The other night I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on a mom-Facebook group I’m a part of. It was a lot of fun answering moms’ questions and a reminder of all the sleep issues moms are dealing with daily: nap length, nap transitions, night wakings, boob-addicted babies, pacifier-addicted babies, moms who worry their babies will sleep with them until college, the list goes on!
Towards the end of the chat, one of the moms asked me if there were things she could do early in her newborn’s life to encourage good sleep habits early.
I was SO HAPPY she asked this question.
The answer was a resounding YES THERE IS!
And I can’t stress this enough so I’m going to put it in pretty fonts, a different colour and make it a different size from the other words. Ready?
IF YOU START RIGHT NOW
(LIKE RIGHT, RIGHT NOW)
YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT SLEEPER.
Of course, there are extenuating circumstances (illness, colic, a move, life events etc.) but if you have a baby that mostly does what you need it to, then you have a great opportunity to teach them great habits.
“Teach a baby” you say, “that’s crazy” But trust this crazy person. I know what I’m talking about. Don’t think of it as ‘teaching’ rather, set baby up to understand sleep cues and understand that new parts of his or her life aren’t scary. You’re setting them up for success.
If you have a newborn, read on! If you don’t, it’s ok! These are great sleep foundations to introduce with to a baby of any age. Try implementing these skills right now. They’re easy, gentle, and will make a world of difference.
What you can start doing now
Here’s what I did early and often:
Get your routine on
I chose a few soothing activities before my kids went to bed. For bed, we did the Triple B: boob, bath and book (then bed)
Don’t break your back rocking and bouncing (it hurts)
Try to put baby to bed awake. I know, that sounds crazy but keep trying. They may surprise you! If they don’t sleep, bounce and rock but just keep trying not to.
Don’t be afraid of your crib.
It doesn’t bite. Put the baby in the place you want him or her to sleep eventually. So many parents I talk to spend hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars on very pretty cribs only then to become terribly afraid of them. Go ahead! Put that baby in the crib while you put away laundry, or putter around in the room. Just get them in there. Maybe pop them in there for 1 nap a day and then, 2 naps a day etc. You get the picture.
Call in a sub: named Dad.
Dads are awesome! Send dad in at night if it’s not time to feed baby. Dads are great and Dads don’t have the boobs babies want so it can sometimes make it easier to calm baby if the boobs aren’t near by. (This was so true with my first. She could smell me around the corner!). Not breastfeeding? Then definitely get dad in there for a night feeding and get some rest.
Pretend you’re a second-time mom
Your newborn is not going to sleep through the night. Nothing I tell you here will make that happen (I mean it CAN happen! Both of my girls were sleeping through at 6 weeks but that’s not always the case). So you should take naps, rest, ask your family to help and do less around the house. This is something I didn’t learn until my second baby. So if this is your first baby, pretend it’s your second and get rest when she rests.
Learn about our newborn program from Baby’s Best Sleep
Good luck out there newborn moms. I’ve got you. In case you’re really stuck, my newborn program is a thorough and detailed version of the advice above (imagine this, but with a lot more direct advice and instruction). You also have me for a full consultation and email support as well–which is always helpful. You can check it out here.