Setting a Solid Sleep Foundation with Your Newborn

Rather read the key points from the podcast? No worries! Here they are:

If you’re a parent of a newborn, I want you to take all the pressure of having a good sleeper off your shoulders right now. Your only job is to love and feed your baby. And that can be exhausting right now!

As the days turn to weeks, you may reach a point where you want to ensure you’re setting the stage for a good sleeper. How can you ensure that your little one grows into an infant and toddler who actually looks forward to sleep?

Self-soothing is the number one skill babies need to settle into sleep. Newborns need a lot of soothing from us. Babies are born premature compared to other mammals, and that’s why they enjoy being held, swayed, carried, and rocked. Tuning in to your child and providing that soothing will help them form an attachment and build trust in you. When they trust you, they can trust their environment, become more relaxed, and grow in independence. 

Separate feed and sleep

Again, not a necessity right now, but it’s a good idea. You may hear of “Eat, Play, Sleep.” Some babies may do better with a feeding right before bed, and that’s great. Try not to let them fall asleep. If your baby is falling asleep, wake them gently. Sing a song or read a book between feeding and putting your baby down.

Practice putting your baby down awake

This isn’t always magically going to work. But placing them in their crib and then shushing and rocking them instead of putting your little one down already awake is a good step to gradually help her associate positivity with her crib. Some babies will protest this hard – they want to be fed to sleep. And that’s okay if you do that within the newborn stage. But be open and willing to try new things.

Start a bedtime routine

Babies as young as two months can begin remembering events that are repeated, and a bedtime routine is good to alert their body that it’s time for sleep. I would recommend doing this routine in the same order and in the same room. 

Follow wake windows

Your baby won’t be ready for a set schedule of naps until they’re closer to 4-6 months old. For now, follow wake windows of roughly 40-90 minutes. This is a magic window when your baby will easily fall asleep. If you keep her up past this, she will protest sleep. These aren’t rigid windows – if she’s gazing off, not interested in you, less activity, she may be ready.

So there you have it – 4 steps you can begin implementing today to set the stage for a great sleeper down the road. 

Remember, your newborn craves connection and there’s no such thing as spoiling a newborn. During the first few months, getting to know your baby and providing for their needs is vital. So don’t stress about whether your child is going to be a good sleeper or not – they’re going to be fine!

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I’m Katie

certified pediatric sleep consultant

Fueled by equal parts caffeine and passion, I spend my days helping exhausted mamas get their babies the sleep they need. 

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