When you bring your baby home no one tells you that "sleep like a baby" only lasts a short time. This article will give you 10 tips to help your newborn sleep better.
Disclaimer: Please note that it can be dangerous for a new newborn baby (just a few weeks old) to sleep all night. They really do need to eat at least every 3 hours in those early days so they can grow well and thrive. It is also safest to place baby on his back to sleep, to guard against SIDS.
1. Short Wake-time
The first week or so, your newborn baby will most likely hardly be awake, but after the first week or two, the #1 key with your newborn is to keep wake times very short, at first. You should soothe your baby for sleep after just 1-2 hours of wake time TOPS.
An overtired baby will have more trouble settling down and going to sleep and staying asleep.
To help mimic the feeling of the womb, it helps to swaddle your newborn baby. This basically means to wrap him up in a blanket like a little burrito. This helps him feel safe and secure and also helps him stay asleep during any or more reflex startle reflex moments. It is said that those reflexes are similar to how we have the feeling we are falling while falling asleep.
3. Days bright / Nights dark
Although you might be tempted to keep things quiet and darker for your newborn to nap well, it might prolong the day/night confusion that almost all newborns will have. Day/Night confusion can last up to 6 weeks. Keep days bright and upbeat and nights, dark and boring, and it will help your newborn sort out her days and nights faster.
4. Limit naps
If he is taking longer to sort out days and nights (or you are having a very rough time keeping up with him being up all night), you can further speed up the process by limiting naps to no longer than 3 hours during the day.
5. Post-feeding routine
To help your newborn baby sort out day and night sleeping even more, you may want to develop a play routine after she eats during the day. Keep her awake 30 minutes after feeding by playing, singing, bathing, etc.
Sometimes it helps to have your newborn in the room with you for quick access for middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. This also can help give him more comfort being close by as he will be able to hear and smell you. For safety reasons, you should use a co-sleeper, sleep positioner or bassinet.
7. Angle the mattress
For babies who spit up a lot or have reflux, it helps to angle the mattress when he sleeps, so baby is not flat on his back. You'll want to angle the mattress so his feet are lower than his head, so his stomach contents can stay put. Please note that the mattress should still remain flat at all times, just at an incline. Check with a knowledgeable health care provider to make sure that what you do is best and safest for your child.
8. White Noise
White noise is made up of the sounds like a fan whirring, vacuum cleaner, hair-dryer, etc. It helps a newborn sleep because inside mom's womb was all white noise. The sound of her blood flow, heart beating, etc.
9. Wear baby
For particularly fussy babies or just for parent's convenience and snuggling, it helps to "wear" baby using a sling. They get very folded up in a sling, but again, it mimics the womb and babies love it!
As I said earlier, mom's movements lulled baby to sleep while in the womb, so I also recommend trying a swing, but don't be surprised if your newborn only likes it at high speeds.
Unfortunately, some of these tips do create sleep associations, but during the first weeks, you really do what you can to survive. Obviously, it never hurts to try to put your baby down to sleep without any of these "tricks, but sometimes that it just doesn't work for all of us.
Nicole Johnson is a sleep coach and the owner of The Baby Sleep Site (TM) http://www.babysleepsite.com specializing in baby sleep products and consulting services. She also works with Babble Soft http://www.babblesoft.com, a premier baby software company, in order to further help new parents. Nicole is a wife and the mother of two boys. With a B.A. degree from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Ohio State University, Nicole has also received an honorary degree in "Surviving Sleep Deprivation," thanks to her son's "no sleep" curriculum. She has become an expert on infant and toddler sleep and has made it her mission to help other parents solve their child's sleep problems, too.