Top 5 Infant Sleep Tips For New Parents
There are so many emotions that go along with having a newborn: excitement, joy, sadness, overwhelming feelings, insecurities, and EXHAUSTION!
If you have a little one in your arms or if you are expecting, then you have probably read every book on the planet, googled and Youtube’d (that’s a verb, right???) all the latest tricks, gadgets, and products to help you and your babe get more sleep! Some of the most common questions we get from parents we work with are around sleep.
Why won’t my baby take longer naps? Why isn’t my baby sleeping longer at night? Why is my baby waking up so early?
Our experienced Sleep Consultants have seen it all and they are sharing their Top 5 Infant Sleep Tips for New Parents, so everyone can get a little more rest!
1. “Full Feeds”
Ensuring that your baby is getting full feed and is going to sleep with a full tummy will help maximize their sleep time. If your baby doesn’t get a full feed or is falling asleep during their feed they will get in the habit of snacking all day long.
For bottle-fed babies, you want to make sure that your little one is getting 2-3 oz each feeding every 2-3 hours.
An easy way to calculate if you want to be a bit more precise would be to take your baby’s weight and multiply it by 2 and 2.5 oz and that is what they will need in 24 hours. Example: baby weighs 8 lbs. Multiply 8x2= 16 and 8x2.5= 20. Your baby will need 16-20 oz in a 24-hour period. If your baby eats every 3 hours, they will need approx. 2-2.5 oz.
For breastfed babies, it can be a little trickier to calculate as it is often difficult to know how much your baby is getting at each nursing session. You will need to make sure that your baby is awake, sucking effectively, and not falling asleep. Make sure that you are nursing completely on one side before moving to the next to ensure that they are getting the hindmilk which is fattier in calories. If you are having any issues with nursing and you are experiencing any pain after the baby has gotten on your breast, seeing a lactation consultant is recommended to ensure breastfeeding success.
We recommend waking your newborn up from their daytime naps at the 3-hour mark to ensure that they are getting their calories during the day so that they won’t be waking up more frequently during the night, due to hunger.
At night (with permission from the baby’s pediatrician), I recommend letting them sleep as long as they can. You do not have to wake them up However, they will most likely wake up every 2-4 hours during the early weeks.
2. Sleep Leads to Sleep
Your baby will naturally start falling asleep every 45-60 minutes upon waking for the first 3 months. For the first month, your baby might not even make it to the 45-minute mark. They might even fall asleep after waking up from a nap during a feed. But you will want to do everything possible to make sure they stay awake to eat. After eating, they might go right back to sleep, or they might stay awake for a few more minutes before going back to sleep.
If you try to keep them up and stretch them past their appropriate wake window (45-60 minutes), they might get overtired and have a hard time going back to sleep which could start a cycle of being over-tired through the daytime which can carry over through the night. If you keep your newborn up during the day, they will not sleep longer at night.
No sleep during the day results in very little sleep at night.
3. Swaddling is a MUST Newborns are accustomed to being in the womb where it is nice and snuggly and there is very little extra wiggle room. The swaddle helps mimic the womb, a familiar place for them plus it helps diminish their startle reflex which doesn’t go away until between 3-6 months.
Hospital blankets and muslin swaddle blankets are easy for babies to wiggle out of unless you are a pro at swaddling with them and once baby is out, they are more than likely going to wake up so a swaddle such as the Miracle Blanket or one with velcro is a better bet!
Use the swaddle every time you put your baby down to sleep and you will want to continue using the swaddle until baby begins to roll over or around 4-5 months old.
4. The beautiful sound of a sound machine
Babies are accustomed to hearing your heartbeat and the fluids throughout your body in the womb. They are used to constant sounds, and they love it. To help your baby sleep and stay asleep, use a sound machine to mimic this constant, comforting noise.
Any machine that plays constant, white noise (no waves, ocean noises, or rain!) will do but a tip is to get one that is also portable and easy to use!
5. Indirect Sunlight
Exposing your baby to mild (and indirect) sunlight is beneficial and essential in many ways. First and foremost, sunlight gives them sufficient Vitamin D levels which helps their body to absorb calcium, keep them healthy and aid in optional growth and development.
Sunlight also helps set your baby’s circadian rhythm so that baby learns to stay awake during the day and sleep soundly at night. It also enhances the production of serotonin, the “happy hormone” which helps regulate sleep & digestion.
Just 10-15 minutes can be sufficient and between 7 am and 10 am is a perfect time. The hour before sunset may also be beneficial, babies often get fussy around this time, and being outdoors can help relieve some of that. If you can’t get out open a window indoors that can stream sunlight in and place the baby in the room with natural sunlight.
Note: If you have a premature baby, consult with your physician before doing so as they need a stable body temperature.