Hello Mada Followers!
I’m Jessica, a pediatric sleep coach, confidence builder and child development enthusiast over at Sleep Happy Consulting. My purpose is to build confidence in sleep-deprived mothers and equip them with the tools to create confident healthy sleepers for life. I have been working with Mada since Temple was 6 weeks old. Mada invited me to share my tips on all.things.newborn.sleep!
But first, you may be wondering what in the world a sleep coach is? Here at Sleep Happy, I help sleep-deprived mothers create age-appropriate sleep routines for their babies so they are both confident and rested! Parents today are bombarded with messages and opinions on sleep. I serve parents who aim to follow their baby’s lead to build their baby’s confidence in calming their OWN bodies for sleep consistently. I help consolidate all of the overwhelming information, narrow the focus on your child’s individual needs (not the unicorn facebook baby you saw yesterday changed into 9 different outfits while staying asleep), and equip you with tools whether inside my online community for moms of newborns, The Sleep Happy Society, or in one-on-one coaching.
While there is an overwhelming amount of information on newborn sleep, I want to narrow it down and keep it to just a few tips on this post to encourage you and not to overwhelm.
Bonding and Feeding are the primary goals, everything else can wait.
However, I thought it would be helpful to start with the number one question I receive from moms of newborns, “Am I creating bad habits by doing _____?”
NO! (as long as the habit or position is safe)
Why? Because newborns need your help adjusting to this new world by providing the sensory input newborns need to calm and organize their bodies. Balancing all.the.things coming at you in this stage + getting the SLEEP that baby (and let’s not forget) Mom need can take time and grace. I want mothers to use their energy on these things and not have that worry every step of the way that they are doing something wrong or “bad.” So let’s repeat… “There are no bad habits/sleep associations in the newborn stage, as long as they are safe.”
Now that we marked that off the list, let’s get to the next question…
“How long can I do ______ without creating a bad habit or sleep association?”
It will depend on the particular pattern you have in place. Is it a pattern that baby is accustomed to a specific position, specific person, specific sensory input, or calming routine that is going to be hard to sustain after 12 weeks? If yes, then my general rule of thumb is to start transitioning out of this habit around 10-12 weeks at the latest. Consider what is working, what your baby needs, and what will happen when baby is 12 weeks… Will your help be leaving? Will baby be sleeping at daycare (what are there restrictions/limitations)? Do you have to take care of older children? Return to work? Will your baby be too big for the bassinet, etc?
For example, if your newborn has been sleeping on you 100% of the time, I recommend working to help the baby get more comfortable in the flat position for a few sleep sessions. You can tackle this goal by increasing tummy time and floor time during play. Or switching to napping in the stroller instead of on you, and slowly introducing flat sleeping while you are still able to use a swaddle to help with the transition from body sleeping to flat sleeping. Pro Tip: Nap 1 historically the easiest naps to get babies down so I always recommend testing out new things during Nap 1… new sleep spaces, new positions, reducing sensory input (vibration or swaddles), etc. Recreating how it feels to sleep on a human is very difficult. Think about the pressure, the heartbeat, the warmth, the elevation and how to translate that into a safe crib environment to set baby up for success. And don’t forget new routines take practice. Give yourself and baby time AND grace as you both learn new routines. This is much easier to teach at 12 weeks than 10 months. Trust me!
For newborns with reflux or other tummy troubles and cannot be in the flat position, I recommend speaking with your health care provider and investigating the safest option that leads to the most sleep for your little one (and you).
Now that we have gotten that worry out of the way, let’s talk about the most helpful tip…
Getting to know your baby…
As you bond and work to establish feeding you are also reading your newborn’s cues. Learning your baby’s hunger cue, getting tired cue, and I am almost overtired cue can be life-changing in the development of future daily routines.
Why? Babies are born with the ability to communicate their needs to survive. Babies can manipulate their voice to communicate as well as their body language to tell you they are uncomfortable, sleepy, hungry, overstimulated, bored, need a snuggle, gassy, and more. If babies do not feel like their communication is being heard, they can begin to communicate less. While this sounds simple, deciphering newborn communication can be tricky, frustrating, and it can take time. As moms, we all have those really hard days where we just wish our little one had the words to tell us what they need.
However, it can be done if you know what to look for! Knowing what your baby is telling you is such a confidence boost. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because this is how you and your baby get to know each other.
How do I go about learning what my baby is communicating? Here is what I encourage parents in my practice to do:
- Pause: Remember crying is your baby’s language.
- Listen: What do you think the cry means?
- Observe: What is your baby doing? What else is going on?
- Respond: Based on what you hear and see, evaluate and respond.
Create a dedicated notebook to make notes on your baby’s cues so you and other caregivers can begin to see the pattern of your baby’s own communication. With my oldest child, I sat with the cue list and a pen on the table by the couch so that I could make notes. The notepad is especially helpful when you have a case where you interpreted the cue as hunger, but then the baby refused the feed. You can make a note of that exact cue, baby’s response and what you did next. For example, it might have been a tired cue instead of hunger and when you moved to your calming routine your little one fell asleep. That way you will have the notes to remind you of the pattern the next day.
Megan, mom of 3.5 week old said “I realized after reviewing the cue analysis lesson inside The Sleep Happy Society for Newborns, that the ‘flailing arms and clawing at her” body language my baby was doing every day meant she was sleepy. I didn’t realize that before studying the cues.”
Download your free Cue Analysis Guide to put with your Cue Notebook HERE!
If you have more questions coming to mind and would like to learn more, here are a few options:
- Check out my online community: The Sleep Happy Society for Newborns is where I teach The h.o.p.e. Method, my 4 step method to guide you in creating the foundation for healthy sleep habits without the overload. Through my online membership, I offer lessons that educate you on that sleep actually looks like via short videos (because moms of newborns have no time), downloads (tools you can screenshot or print to have at your fingertips), as well as a community to come and ask your questions in an encouraging environment. Take my free class to learn more!
- Learn more about my one-on-one coaching: I offer one-on-one support with moms of birth to 6 year-olds through home visits, phone consultations, and real-time text support plans that add a personal touch and accountability to the tailored sleep plans we create together so families reach their sleep goals fast. Click Here for a list of my services!
- Come visit and chat with me over on Instagram at @sleephappy
Not quite sure which service is best for you or want to learn how a sleep coach can help you, let’s chat? Schedule a FREE 15 Min Call
Sleep Happy Everyone!
Mada’s Newborn Tips
I wanted to share a few days of Bobbie’s schedule starting around 4-5 weeks old. These schedules are just to give you an idea of how a day goes for us and how different each one can be. Remember, as newborn “schedule” is not perfect, and I NEVER STRESS about Bobbie’s. I do try to keep a rough routine of her sleep and let her nap on her own for at least two naps during the day so that I can focus on time with Temple and have my hands free.
The main things I focus on to set Bobbie up for good sleep habits are the following:
- I don’t stress about where she takes her naps during the day, but I do make sure that during the day, she nurses at least every 3 hours. So, if she has been napping for three hours during the day, I wake her! I know some say “Never wake a sleeping baby,” but with a newborn (0-12 weeks) I find that for my breastmilk supply, I need to feed her at least every 3 hours during the day + I want to get those calories in her during the day so that at night I don’t have to wake her and she can have a longer sleep stretch.
- Bobbie’s wake time during the day is only around an hour to an hour and a half at most. I notice if she is up for more than an hour and a half that she gets overtired, and it makes it harder to get her down for a good nap. If you set up these wake time habits, then you will more easily pick up on your baby’s cues, and she will show you signs right around that 60-90 minute mark that she is tired and will likely more easily go down for her naps.
- Jessica taught me with Temple that the first nap is typically your most successful nap (as she touched on above.) I always put Bobbie down for her first nap of day swaddled in her crib or bassinet. I put her down very tired but not fully asleep. This first nap is typically the best nap of the day and holds true for Bobbie. On most days, we wake around 7:30 am, and she shows signs that she is tired right around 8:30 am. I then swaddle her and walk around the room with her for a few minutes as her eyes get heavier and then lay her down in her crib. She typically naps for at least two hours during this nap. I CHERISH and take full advantage of this big first nap and try to do my morning pumping session and get ready for the day. You do need to note that an entire sleep cycle is 45 minutes, so if your baby only naps for 45-minutes, then that’s totally fine and is considered a full nap! As the naps go on through our day (as you will see below), Bobbie’s naps aren’t as long, which is fine and normal!
- Set up your sleep environment to be the same for at least two naps of the day or as many as you can! For us, that looks like this…
- Turn lights off. We keep this Himalayan salt lamp on.
- Turn sound machine on. You can even you this on-the-go sound machine for naps in other rooms, at others homes, etc.
- change the diaper and swaddle
- rock and walk around the room until her eyes become heavy then lay down in crib! I recommend trying 1-2 naps a day with laying baby down drowsy but awake. This way, they get used to being put down somewhat awake and recognize their surroundings.
- Here is a list of the sleep products we are loving:
- Ollie Swaddle
- Snuggle Me Lounger- this is not approved for safe sleeping. I only let Bobbie nap in her snuggle me if I am watching.
- Sound Machine
- On-The-Go Sound Machine
- Bibs Pacifiers
- Solly Wrap– I wear this around the house and Bobbie absolutely loves it. I prefer the carrier below when outside when it’s hot cause it has more airflow. Check out my IG highlights “Baby Wrap Demo” to see how I use mine.
- Baby Bjorn Mini Carrier– I love this for walks in the neighborhood. Bobbie falls asleep so quickly when in it!
- Lastly, do not stress about the length of their naps and being a crazy person about their schedule in the NB stage. I am someone who loves a good routine, so healthy sleep habits help keep me sane, and I can tell Bobbie is a much happier baby when I keep a rough schedule. Again, the main things I focus on are keeping her wake time no longer than 90-minutes during the day so that she isn’t overtired, feeding her during the day at least every 3 hours, trying to get her to nap on her own at least 1-2x a day, and putting her down for these naps when she is drowsy but not fully asleep.
Below I’ve included four sleep schedules that I tracked of Bobbie around 5-weeks-old to give you an idea of what our days look like. Try not to compare your baby to mine. This is my second child, and what works for us at this time!
Bobbie’s Sleep Schedule 1 (5-weeks-old)
- 7:30am: Wake up for the day. Nurse and wake time.
- 8:30-11am: First nap of the day in Snuggle Me lounger in the crib.
- 11-12pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 12-1pm: Nap in Ollie swaddle in the crib.
- 1pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 2:40pm: Down for nap in Ollie swaddle in crib. She wouldn’t stay down, and I tried off and on till 3:30pm before giving up on this nap. She ended up napping on my chest in the living room.
- 4:30-6pm: Nap in Ollie swaddle in crib.
- 6-7:30pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 7:30pm: Put her down in crib in her Ollie swaddle. She kept waking and stirring, so I didn’t get her down for night till about 9pm.
- 9-1:10am: Slept in crib in Ollie swaddle.
- 1:10am: Nurse, Swaddled, and put her back down in crib.
- 1:30-4am: slept in her crib.
- 4am: changed diaper, nursed, reswaddle, and back in crib.
Bobbie’s Sleep Schedule 2
- 8am-: Wake up and nurse.
- 9-10:15am: Down for nap one in the crib. I went on a run, so when she woke up, Caleb gave her a 4 oz bottle with breast milk for her feeding.
- 10:15-11:30am: Bottle and wake time.
- 11:30-12:45pm: Nap in Snuggle me on the couch.
- 12:45-2:30pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 2:30-4:00pm: Nap in Solly wrap while I cooked our dinner, and Temple napped.
- 4:00-5:30pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 5:30-6:15pm: Family walk to the park and napped in my Baby Bjorn carrier.
- 6:15-8:30pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 8:30-10pm: Slept on my chest while we watched TV in bed.
- 10-1:40am: Slept in Ollie swaddle in her crib.
- 1:40-2:15am: Nurse, reswaddle, and put back down in crib.
- 2:15-5:00am: Slept in crib.
- 5-7:30am: Woke up, nursed, and put in bassinet by my bedside.
Bobbie’s Sleep Schedule 3
- 7:50-8:45am: Wake up for the day, nurse, wake time.
- 8:45-10:40am: First nap of the day in Ollie swaddle in crib.
- 10:40-12:00pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 12-1:10pm: Nap in crib.
- 1:10-2:30pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 2:30-4:10pm: Nap in crib.
- 4:10-5: Nurse and wake time
- 5-6:30pm: Slept in Baby Bjorn carrier for our walk.
- 6:30-8pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 8pm-11pm: slept, nursed, and hung out with us in the bedroom.
- 11-2am: Slept in crib.
- 2-8am: Woke up, nursed, and up in bassinet by bedside.
Bobbie’s Sleep Schedule 4
- 8am-9:10: Wake up for day, nurse, wake time.
- 9:10-12pm: First nap of day in her crib with Ollie swaddle. I had to wake her up to nurse cause she was still napping at noon.
- 12-1:10pm: Wake time and nurse.
- 1:10-2pm: Nap in crib.
- 2-3:50pm: Nurse and wake time.
- 3:50-6:30pm: we went on a drive and to a park. I put her in her Baby Bjorn carrier at the park, and she napped some.
- 6:30-7:45pm: Got back home, and she nursed and had wake time.
- 8pm-1:50am: Slept in crib. I woke her up at 10:30pm for a dream feed cause my breasts were full but put her right back down.
- 1:50-2:10am: Nurse in rocking chair, reswaddled, and put her back down in crib.
- 2:10-5am: Slept in crib.
- 5am-7:30am: Woke and nursed and back in crib.