5 Sleeping Tips For The First 6 Weeks
I’ve been there. Fresh out of the hospital, holding a newborn that didn’t come with a manual and balancing lack of sleep with extra cups of coffee.
Many call these 6 weeks the “4th trimester”.
This 4th trimester is so focused on the newborn and their needs. My hope is that these tips help set early foundations for good sleeping habits, opening up room for you to care for yourself while meeting baby’s needs.
1. Have baby tank up during the day
In the first few weeks your baby will eat on demand. On average, this will be every 2-3 hours (sometimes more often). Watching for these feeding cues and feeding often during the day will allow for longer stretches of sleep at night.
Over time, if you write down when your baby is feeding/sleeping, you can create a schedule. Until then, you’ll want to wake your baby up from naps during the day in order to feed them every 2-3 hours.
Once your baby returns to their birth weight (and you get the green-light from your pediatrician) you can allow those longer sleep stretches.
2. Avoid feeding baby to sleep
Allowing your baby to fall asleep while feeding can be problematic because they can doze off before they’ve truly filled up. Your baby might also start to use feeding as a crutch to fall asleep (a negative sleep association - see tip 4).
To avoid feeding your baby to sleep, try to separate feeding and sleeping times. One option is to implement an eat/play/sleep schedule so that play time comes between feed and nap time. You can also separate feeding and sleeping with diaper changes or swaddling.
3. Practice crib naps
Yes, you can hold your sleeping baby, use baby wear, have stroller naps, etc. You can’t spoil a newborn, so soak it all in!
But, also try to put your baby down to nap in their crib during the day, when possible. This will allow them to learn to get comfortable falling asleep on their back, and their crib will become a familiar place.
Note: At this age, EVERY crib nap is a success. Even if your baby only sleeps 15 mins in the crib (well done!) just switch them to another method that works to complete the nap like a bassinet, stroller, baby wear, etc.
4. Don’t fear “positive” sleep associations
A sleep association is any action that helps your baby fall asleep.
Negative sleep associations are actions that someone else does to help put baby to sleep. These include:
- Rocking the baby to sleep
- Feeding the baby to sleep
Positive sleep associations are tools that your baby uses to get to sleep. These include:
- A white noise machine to block sound
- Blackout shades to reduce light
- Pacifiers (which is also are proven to reduce the risk of SIDS)
5. Practice small moments of self-care
Getting a baby to sleep through the night requires a well-cared-for parent.
For example, I personally have spent hours with my screaming baby, feeling like nothing I was doing would get him to stop. Then my husband would step in. He was calm, and the baby calmed almost immediately.
Your baby feels your energy and feeds off of it.
So, call on your “tribe” of friends or family members for help so you can practice moments of self-care. This can be as simple as taking a hot shower, getting an uninterrupted nap, or drinking your coffee while it is still hot!
To read more on safe-sleep from the American Academy of Pediatrics please visit their website at: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/safe-sleep/Pages/Safe-Sleep-Recommendations.aspx
Allison works with TotSquad to offer 1:1 sessions for all your sleep related questions!
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Kudos.
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