Being a pregnant woman means that not only is your belly getting bigger, but that you are constantly being approached by family, friends, and strangers alike with unsolicited and, often, inaccurate advice about how to best take care of your soon-to-arrive bundle of joy. When being endlessly bombarded with a sea of unwanted opinions, it will be tempting to let most of the tips and tricks you hear to go in one ear and out the other.
What is one piece of advice that should not be brushed-off and discarded? You should get as much sleep as possible while you can because once baby arrives, those eight consecutive hours of sleep that you get every night will become a thing of the past.
Here are ten things that you probably didn’t know about newborn sleep habits:
1. Newborns need to eat every two hours, even at night.
Did you know that for the first two weeks of your baby’s life you will be waking up every two hours to make sure that your newborn is getting enough to eat?
When babies are first born their stomachs are roughly the size of a cherry and therefore can’t retain very much milk; they need to be fed every two hours to ensure that they are getting enough nutrients and also to help build up Mom’s milk supply.
2. Newborns LOVE being swaddled.
Have you learned how to swaddle your newborn yet? If not, it is recommended that you practice before baby is born. Swaddling, or the act of wrapping baby tightly in a blanket, has been proven to be a powerful technique for getting baby to sleep, and sleep well.
If your newborn won t sleep, then it is likely that they are simply unaccustomed to the freedom of the outside world; mother’s womb is warm, cozy, and confining, and mimicking such an environment will help baby get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
3. Newborns should sleep in the parent’s room, at least at first.
What is the best place for your little one to sleep? Having baby sleep in your room will not only ease your anxiety (is he breathing? was baby crying in sleep?) but also make nighttime feedings much easier.
4. “Never wake a sleeping baby” does NOT apply to newborns.
“He is sleeping so soundly. Should I really wake him?” The answer is: Yes! It is sometimes not only okay to wake a sleeping newborn, but often necessary. It will be tempting to let them sleep, especially when you can’t remember the last time that you got some zzz’s yourself, but they need to eat and it is your job to make sure that they are eating often.
5. A baby sleep positioner should be avoided
A sleep positioner may seem like a great way to keep your little one from tossing and turning, but they should not be put in a crib with a newborn. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA both warn against using an infant sleep positioner by stating that “sleep positioners do not prevent SIDS and in fact can increase the risk of babies suffocating.”
6. Routine, routine, routine!
Have you considered the benefits of having a bedtime routine for baby? Having an established routine will provide baby with a soothing nighttime experience that they will learn to associate with sleep.
7. An infant sleep schedule can help transition them from day sleeping to night sleeping
Newborns like to sleep, but they often sleep during the day and are awake at night. But did you know that this pattern tends to carry-over when baby is born and that it can be a hard habit to break? By establishing a sleep schedule you will be limiting the amount of sleep baby gets during the day and train them to instead sleep at night.
8. Newborns can’t be spoiled, even if baby not sleeping
You have probably heard the term “cry it out”, or “ferberizing” by now, which is a technique that is meant to be used to teach a baby to self-soothe, but newborns are not capable of self-soothing. You are not spoiling your child by attending to their cries; you are establishing trust and security.
9. “Back to sleep” can prevent SIDS
What is one thing that terrifies most new parents? SIDS! What is any easy step that parents can take to prevent SIDS? Put baby to sleep on their back.
10. There will be times when your newborn’s sleep habits will baffle you. There are resources that can help!
Have you worked hard on getting baby to sleep in crib, put them on a newborn sleep schedule, and established a bedtime routine, but they still won’t sleep and you are wondering what you should you do next? The best thing to do in this situation is relax and recognize that you are doing everything you can, and that, yes, sometimes everything isn’t enough.
Would you like help working through those difficult nights when baby just won’t sleep? Try the Baby Sleep Site or perhaps read a mommy blog. There are others who have been through what you are going through, and many resources available to help get your little one to sleep through the night and tips on how to get baby to sleep in crib.
How to Choose the Safest Sleep Position for Baby
What do you think the safest sleep position for your newborn is? You may have heard that a newborn put to sleep on their tummy will sleep through the night, but the only safe position for a newborn is on their back and with nothing else in the crib with them.
Babies under one year should not be put to sleep with blankets or stuffed animals. Putting baby to sleep with a swaddle blanket is okay, but it is important to make sure that it is secured tightly.
Want to know more about safe sleeping habits for your baby? The Safe to Sleep campaign is devoted to teaching parents about the importance of having baby fall asleep on their backs.
Do you know any more secrets about newborn sleep? What do you think is the best way to get baby to sleep?