How to Set Good Newborn Sleep Habits
Updated: Jan 11
Congratulations on the arrival of your new bundle of joy! As a new parent, you may be wondering how to get your newborn to sleep through the night. Here are a few tips to help your newborn (and you!) get some much-needed rest:
1. Create a sleep-friendly environment: Keep the room dark and quiet, and maintain a comfortable temperature. Consider using a white noise machine or a fan to create a soothing background noise.
2. Establish a bedtime routine: A bedtime routine can help signal to your newborn that it's time to sleep. This might include a warm bath, a gentle massage, or reading a bedtime story. Try to keep the routine consistent each night.
3. Watch wake windows and make sure you're putting your newborn to sleep before they start showing more obvious signs of tiredness. For more on wake windows, see this Instagram post.
Signs of tiredness, starting from less obvious to more obvious signs, include:
fussing >> whining >> crying >> screaming
glazed stare >> looking away >> turning head away >> back arching
waving arms and legs >> jerking limb movements
pulling up knees (this could also be due to gas, though)
seeking comfort by sucking or feeding
If your baby gets overtired, she will have a hard time falling asleep. They may fight sleep or be extremely fussy, even though they haven't slept in many hours. If this is you, check out this Instagram post for more information about how to help your baby get back into a good sleep pattern.
4. Swaddle your newborn: Swaddling can help your newborn feel secure and comfortable, which can make it easier for them to fall asleep. Just be sure to use a light blanket and make sure your newborn's face is not covered. We also really like these swaddles for ease of re-swaddling at 2 a.m.!
5. Introduce a pacifier, carefully: The main concern when introducing a pacifier is that the more frequently you use a pacifier, the more you will limit how much you're breastfeeding, which will cause your breastmilk supply to decline. With that being said, there is a place for the smart use of a pacifier in the newborn stage. It's recommended to use it only after a full feeding, and if your baby wakes after 1 or more hours of sleep and is acting hungry, to nurse on demand. (For more about cluster feeding, see this blog).
6. Be patient: It's common for newborns to wake up frequently during the night to feed. This is completely normal, and it's important to feed your newborn when they are hungry. Be patient and try to stay as calm as possible – the more relaxed you are, the easier it will be for your newborn to fall back asleep.
Remember, every baby is different, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your newborn. Some newborns are high sleep needs, while others have low sleep needs. Some will nap for hours and sleep through the night at 12 weeks, while others may not sleep longer than a 3-hour stretch until 4 months (that was my experience).
Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and try to get as much rest as you can when your newborn is sleeping. Many couples take shifts or come up with a structure so that mom and dad get larger chunks of sleep, intermittently. I still remember how amazing I felt after I got a solid 4-hours of sleep - I felt like a new woman! With some patience and persistence, you'll ALL be sleeping through the night (for some nights, at least 😉).