The first night you bring your baby home from the hospital is overwhelming. You feel joyous that your sweet baby is finally in your arms. You love them more than you could have ever imagined. You are also beyond tired and need a good nights rest! There are a few easy steps you can take to ensure that you get the sleep you need as a new parent! Newborns are not made to sleep like adults. A newborn who sleeps through the night is incredibly rare and according to some doctors is not even recommended. But, there are definitely things you can do to improve your newborns sleep!
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Let your baby sleep during the day
Everyone has seen an exhausted mother desperately trying to keep their newborn awake during the day in an attempt to make sure they sleep at night. However, this approach is all wrong! Sleep begets sleep! If a baby becomes overtired it is much harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. A baby should have regular naps throughout the day. You can follow the chart below to see how much sleep your child should be getting throughout the day. If you ensure your child gets the right amount of sleep during the day, it will be much easier to put them to sleep at night and they will likely sleep much longer.
|Age:||Amount of Sleep during the Day:||Amount of Sleep at Night:|
|Newborn||8-9 hours||9 hours|
|1 Month||8-9 hours||9 hours|
|3 Months||6-7 hours||10 hours|
|6 Months||5-6 hours||10 hours|
|9 Months||3-4 hours||11 hours|
|12 Months||3-4 hours||11 hours|
|18 Months||2-3 hours||11 hours|
Swaddling is the MOST important thing you can do to help your child sleep. I have heard parents say ‘my baby hates to be swaddled’. This is likely because you aren’t swaddling correctly. You can watch thousands of Youtube videos to show you exactly how to swaddle. You can also ask your pediatrician for help. I was never the best at swaddling so I always used the velcro swaddle blankets. However, a single swaddle just doesn’t cut it sometimes. We swaddled our daughter with a swaddle blanket first (You can see one here) and then we used a velcro swaddle over the blanket (You can see one here). Your swaddle needs to be snug. If your baby is able to undo her swaddle or get her arms out, it is not tight enough. We also swaddled our daughter during naps but we only used a single swaddle during the day.
The womb is a very loud place! Babies are accustom to constant noise. The familiar sound of white noise can be very soothing for your newborn. Most sound machines have a few different options for noise and you can play around with which sound works best for your baby. The one I have can be found here but there are numerous options on the market right now. There are also several apps that you can download for white noise.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
There are a few reasons to develop a nighttime routine. The first is to help sleep deprived parents remember everything they need to do for bedtime! When you are tired it is easy to forget the little things. Routines become habitual which will prevent you from forgetting the essential steps you need to take to help your baby sleep. In addition, children thrive on routines. If you start a bedtime routine from day one, your baby will eventually begin to pick up on the bedtime ques allowing her to fall asleep easier.
Put Your Baby in her Own Room from Day One
This is a controversial topic and you should talk to your pediatrician about whether or not this is the best method for you and your baby. I knew that there was no way I would be able to sleep if my daughter was in the same room as me. She is a very noisy sleeper and if she would have been right next to me, I would have been up all night. I wanted to be sure that when she was sleeping, I was sleeping. I also heard horror stories about the struggles parents have trying to get their child to transition into sleeping in their own room. By having my daughter sleep in her own room from day one, I never had to deal with the dreaded transition.
Invest in a Snuza and Video Monitor
In the social work field, I hear about SIDS far more than I would like to. If you are a nervous mom, like I was, sleeping without these two baby products will be nearly impossible. The Snuza allowed me to be comforted that if something were to happen, I would be alerted immediately. Without it, I would have been waking up all night to check and make sure she was still breathing. You can find the Snuza here. Even with the Snuza, I would still wake up in an occasional panic and the video monitor allowed me to see my daughter and make sure she was ok, without having to run into her room to check on her. The video monitor we have is no longer for sale so I don’t have a link to provide to you but you can easily find a variety of video monitors on Amazon, Target or Babies R Us. It is important to look for a monitor that has a clear picture and sound. I also wanted a monitor that could connect to two cameras and have a split screen. I have always planned on having more than one child so I wanted a monitor that would allow me to see both children at the same time.
These methods will help you and your baby sleep better however, you will inevitably still have moments of exhaustion (especially around the 4 month sleep regression) but just remember, even this shall pass!