Congrats mama! You just brought home your newest little one and are so happy, yet so exhausted at the same time. Here is my no nonsense newborn sleep checklist that every new parent needs to know, and that I wish I had when I was in your shoes!
The 3 things you need for Newborn Sleep:
This is the must-have for your newborn and you may need different styles based on your little one’s preference. The swaddle serves an important purpose the first 2-3 months of your baby’s life. Babies are born with a very strong Moro reflex. When they are laid on their back for sleep (a must for safe sleep!), their arms may jolt them awake and startle them. We use a swaddle to calm this reflex so they can sleep for slightly longer stretches without being suddenly and frequently woken. Use LittlePeach15 for 15% off the Dreamland Baby swaddle.
Similar to the swaddle, a sound machine helps soothe your baby to sleep, drown out stimulating background noise, and allows them to sleep more soundly. Your baby heard a constant whooshing while they were in your belly, so white noise is the most calming sound for your baby to hear. Not only is white noise great for sleep, it can also be a lifesaver when your baby is super upset. In these instances, turn the volume up or shush in their ear loudly to catch their attention and calm them down. Often, newborns are overstimulated when they are very upset, so you’ll want to focus them in and then calm them down.
Safe Sleep Space
The safest place for your newborn (and up to 12 months old) to sleep is alone, on their back, and in the crib or bassinet- you can remember “ABC!” It is recommended to room-share and place your baby in their own sleep space with nothing but your baby and a pacifier (if wanted).
The 3 Secrets for Helping your Newborn Sleep:
Cuddles, Cuddles, and More Cuddles
When in doubt, cuddle. You cannot spoil a newborn and you both need each other. You waited at LEAST 9 months for this little one, so soak it all and try not to stress about your to-do list, your exhaustion, going back to work, whatever it may be.
Short Wake Windows
The key to actually getting your newborn to sleep is keeping their awake times between naps very short. There is no need to “stretch them,” especially if you find a range that works well for your baby. This time includes feeding time, and your days will feel like all your baby does is eat and sleep, especially in those first few weeks. A few minutes to a newborn is like hours to us- they can become overtired very unexpectedly. Here is a cheat sheet for you to follow along with your baby’s cues!
Practice Makes Progress:
For most babies, you can start practicing some healthy sleep habits for a sleep foundation starting around 8 weeks. Around 6-8 weeks, your baby will start to “wake up” from the sleepy newborn stage and start seeing the world around them! They may smile back at you, which is super cute and exciting. This means that we can start introducing cues and routines, and your baby will learn to follow along. Your baby will also be much more stimulated and interested in what is going on around them, so a dark, calm, and quiet sleep environment- especially for naps- will help! This is when I suggest practicing crib naps. By practice, I mean trying a soothing routine to calm the baby down so you can place them awake in their crib and then use layers of support, such as a hand on their chest, shushing, a little rock with your hand to help them fall asleep in their sleep space. It’s truly all practice in the first few months, but a little practice can go a long way. Remember to take deep breaths, as your baby will begin to match your breathing. You’ve got this! It’s practice, no stress allowed. Baby steps.
I hope these tips can help you navigate sleep with your newest little one. All babies are unique and what works for you may not work for your best friend or neighbor, so try to do what is right for your family, and know that you can ask for help with anything! There's a tribe of mamas out there that have your back!
Little Peach Sleep