Need some tips on handling newborn sleep (or lack thereof?) Here’s a few things that worked with our two boys! (& hopefully will work again with our third!)
I can’t believe that in just a few short months, I will have a newborn baby! While I’m excited to snuggle my newest little love, I am prepping for the newborn sleep cycle that is coming my way. Here are a few tips on handling newborn sleep (from a third time mama!)
1.) Establish a Nighttime Routine
We tried our best to establish a clear nighttime routine early on. With our first, we sort of played it by ear (re: we had no idea what we were doing), and didn’t get into a bath, story, massage, jammies routine until he was a couple of months old. The second time around we naturally fell into an early nighttime routine because of his big brother.
When C was just a few weeks old, we started to do bath time together with the boys. A would be in the big tub and C in the infant tub. It helped reaffirm a natural addition to A’s already established nighttime routine. For C, it provided him a routine early on in his newborn weeks that he didn’t even go through any phase of “witching hour” or any excessive crying in the evening! The duo-bedtime routine also helped both my husband and I ease into tackling bedtime with a newborn and a toddler.
We really lucked out that both of the kids transitioned well into having a structure for bedtime. I think the fact that we were able to establish a routine helped both kids distinguish their naps from nighttime sleep, even as babies. It also helped me as a mom establish a baseline of time to “sleep when baby sleeps,” or schedule my nighttime routine as necessary to either get some alone time with my husband or to get “extra” ZZZs.
2.) Use A White Noise Machine
I am a HUGE fan of the Marpac Dohm sound machine. Even as an adult, I find it a good aid in blocking out noise and letting myself succumb to my need for sleep! A loved it as a baby and we bought another when we were prepping for C’s arrival. It helped with noise-blocking, as the boys’ rooms are right next to one another; and it also helped to create a soothing environment, similar to being in the womb for my newborn babies.
While I’ve read that it may sometimes become a sleep crutch, we haven’t experienced that in our home. There’s been many times where D or I forgot to turn the sound machine on and we’ve had no hiccups in either of the babes’ sleep being affected by not using the sound machine. So, for us, it’s been a great sleep-aid through and through!
3.) Follow Your Baby’s Cues
There are so many tips about newborn sleep everywhere on GOOGLE and all the internets. However, I’ve learned that you just need to follow your baby’s cues. Don’t force trying to keep your newborn awake if they need time to figure out their day/night schedules. Don’t dream feed or swaddle if isn’t working for your baby. No, seriously, neither of my babies took to dream feeds and neither liked being swaddled either! C actually did really great sleeping in the crib from early on (2 weeks), but A didn’t transition to sleeping in his crib until a few months old.
Every baby is so unique and their needs are so different even between siblings! I’m hedging my bets that our newest lil’ babe will show us his own preferences for sleep and structure too!
4.) Relax, Try Out Different Things, & Give Yourself Grace
As a first-time mom, I was super regimented about sleep cycles and schedules. I was adamant and would stress myself out about missing nap time at home. While it helped with A being a routine loving baby, looking back, I wish I would’ve given myself more grace and slack. I remember feeling inadequate if A’s naps turned into 30 min cat naps or being hyper sensitive about his wake times and not being able to rest at all myself. I questioned different things; unsure about the things I tried to do to help myself and A through the newborn sleep phase.
Naturally, as a second-time mom, I became (by default) a bit more relaxed and less rigid about sleep schedules. We had a toddler to keep up with and sometimes the baby’s nap schedules and such were on the go! And what do you know, at the end of the day, both kids still slept the same amount of hours at the newborn stage and beyond. I was able to trust my mama instinct as to what would or wouldn’t work and C’s newborn sleep days are a fond, distant memory of normal fourth trimester needs.
5.) Prepare for the Unknown
We were very lucky that neither of our boys were colicky babies. But, we know from our 4+ years of parenting to prepare for the unknown. I don’t take it for granted that we’ve never dealt with colic or excessive crying. And I’ve done my research on it as best as I can, as a mom who hasn’t experienced it first-hand.
Colic is usually when a healthy baby cries for more than 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, for over 3 weeks. It usually starts in the first few weeks of life. Babies may experience increased crying in the evening and at night. Research indicates that the type of bacteria in the infant’s digestive system may determine whether a child is colicky. This suggests a role for probiotics to help support a balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract of colicky infants. In particular, the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri has been clinically shown in multiple studies to reducing crying time in colicky infants. Comforting probiotics are a great way to improve the good bacteria in baby’s digestive system.
I’m so glad that I’m stocked up on Gerber’s Soothe drops that contain L. reuteri, a comforting probiotic that is safe for infants and similar to those found in breastmilk. Gerber Soothe products can effectively help babies to reduce crying time. I’m glad I have the Gerber Soothe Infant formula on hand too, because both A and C had a couple of weeks in their newborn days where they needed formula in addition to my breastmilk to meet their needs.
Do you have any more tips for newborn sleep?
If you want to learn more, Gerber has different experts available (Registered Dietitians, Certified Lactation Consultant and Certified Baby Sleep Consultant) to answer any questions: 1-800-203-4565.