You have this new baby and no ones getting sleep, or at least it’s not good solid sleep. And I’m sure everyone is telling you it’s normal, and it is……. but let me be clear. Yes it’s normal but what if you had the opportunity to help your new baby learn about sleep knowing it will only boost their development.
A baby is born and the first thing they learn when they leave the comfort of your womb is BREATHING. Some babies do just fine learning this life skill without assistance. And they are given an added boost before they are even born as the birth process helps squeeze the extra fluids out.
So, how can you help your baby?
Your energy is important. I don’t mean your physical energy, I’m sure you’re beyond tired.
The energy you feel when bouncing on that yoga ball all night trying to sooth your baby. Or that overly, exhausted, fed up feeling you have when you lay him down after an hour of holding him asleep only to have him wake up in seconds or minutes from being put down.
That energy, the kind that leaves you feeling depleted. It’s normal to feel whatever it is you’re feeling and we want to help.
Reset your energy.
You are his parent. You won’t be perfect at everything but you are still learning about each other and that requires you being taken care of as well.
Take a few deep breaths before having to pick your baby back up. If he’s sleeping on you or in bed with you and starts sending vocal cues like moving, crying, and looks uncomfortable it’s okay to take a few seconds and reset your feelings so they aren’t passed to him.
Talk with your baby. Not baby talk, real talk. Ask him how he’s feeling and what he was dreaming about. Your voice will help sooth him.
Communication is important and he’s learning from you. It starts here in the beginning of life.
How your baby falls asleep is both the crux of the problem—and the solution.
Start a routine that is guaranteed to help him sleep in the future. Which is hard to do when they are newborns and you’re just trying to survive these first few weeks/months.
If you’re holding your baby too sleep then he’s going to seek that when he’s tired. Every time he wakes up from being put to sleep he will seek that same routine to fall back to sleep.
For young babies with no medical issues they can be nicely swaddled. Talking with your baby while you’re wrapping them up will help them feel calm and relaxed. Talk about getting ready for bed and what you’re doing. Go slow, his natural energy field is picking up on how you feel and that is probably adding to the protest of swaddling.
Give them some space.
It’s okay to put your baby down awake and let them be vocal. After all that’s the only way they can communicate right? Validate there feelings, talk with him about it and don’t get overwhelmed by his crying.
When your baby wakes up give him space to listen and look around especially if he’s calm. When you’re ready to pick him up communicate that. “Hi Finn, you look well rested from that nap. I hope you’re ready to eat and snuggle with mommy!”
Understanding what it means to “react” or “respond” to your baby.
Naturally we react to our babies crying by quickly picking them up and doing one or many things like, changing, feeding, burping, swaddling, cuddling etc. And sometimes just holding them soothes them. Your natural reaction is to quickly comfort your baby and sometimes that doesn’t work.
Respond to your baby like you would a young toddler who can’t do something and needs help. If your baby is laying on the floor and lets out this loud angry-like cry, instead of scooping them up right away you should get down on the floor, lay right next to them and talk with him. Minimize what’s around him as too much stuff can be overwhelming.
If you have a really young baby and they start getting upset in there bassinet or swing, help reset what’s around them and respond slowly.
Remember they just came from this semi quiet dark relaxing place where they were floating in warm water freely (or as freely as one baby can be in such a small place). They went through a long hard journey to get here and sometimes they just want to be vocal about it. Sometimes nothing is wrong.
Overcoming the early days of struggle.
To help your baby learn about their own safe sleep habits you need to help implement some things. Our suggestions for babies younger then 10 weeks.
Swaddle- Once you find that perfect swaddle for your baby they will start sleeping better.
Allow floor time- Yes young babies can enjoy some time laying flat with minimum objects in there personal space. They will begin to explore my checking out how there body moves and what those fingers taste like. By doing this they are learning what they can do themselves, imagine how that feels?! And the more they figure out on their own the better they develop.
Routine- You can start a simple routine with your baby such as; change diaper, nurse or bottle feed, then swaddle. Your babies sleep space should be flat with nothing in there bed. A bassinet or crib is ideal, block out all light in there room or sleep area and use a sound machine to help filter out random noises. You can start a time schedule and even add up those ounces per feeding. Young babies have shorter time between each nap cycle. So naturally your baby will seem sleeping all day and even wide awake at night. Start that routine and help him associate his sleep time with a dark peaceful sounding room, he will catch on to that and it will be his new “comfort of sleep”.
Understanding your babies cues.
I love the book “Beginning Well: Empathy from the Very Beginning”.
I don’t agree with it 100% but if I had to recommend a book to new parents, this would be it. Not only does it talk about sleep and your babies development, but it talks about raising your baby from birth to toddler-hood and it’s incredibly insightful. I’m a mom to four kids, oldest is 11 years old and I JUST READ THIS BOOK.
It won’t fix those horrible sleepless nights, but it will make raising a newborn easier.
And the journey has just begun.