If you’ve recently had a baby, you’re probably no stranger to sleepless nights and tired days. There are plenty of old stereotypes surrounding the lack of sleep you usually get when you’re a new parent.
But, it doesn’t have to be as awful as some of the old horror stories might want you to believe. You can establish a sleep routine for yourself (and your baby!) that can work for you and help you get the rest you deserve.
Getting sleep with a newborn baby isn’t always easy. In fact, the average hours of sleep for a new mom are usually around two hours less each night until the baby is around 5 month’s old. It’s hard to get them into a routine right away.
Many times, a baby can’t tell the difference between night and day, so when you want to get several hours of rest at night, they aren’t aware that it isn’t daytime. Newborns also frequently get hungry and need feedings throughout the night.
So, if your baby needs your attention through the night, how can you ever get some rest? There are things you can do to start a sleep routine for your baby and get some more shut-eye for yourself in the process.
Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to settle into a routine. What works for one new mom or dad may not work the same way for you. So, this guide offers different suggestions and tools you can use to get more sleep with a new baby in the home.
This guide will cover the importance of developing a sleep routine with your baby. The sooner you’re able to establish the routine, the easier it can be to transition your baby into several hours of solid sleeping per night.
There are tips and tricks you can use to help your baby adjust from daytime to nighttime. On top of that, you can use some resources to lull yourself into sleep as well. It’s important that new parents get enough rest so they are able to properly take care of the baby during the day.
A little exhaustion might be normal when you’re bringing a newborn into the house. But, you should pay attention to your health and the amount of sleep you’re getting for everyone’s sake.
Because newborns frequently get hungry and can’t tell the difference between night and day, don’t expect them to sleep for long stretches right away. Most newborn babies can sleep around 17 hours per day. But, it’s usually not in the long stretches that you might hope for.
If your baby is being breastfed, you may end up feeding them anywhere from 8-12 times a day. That’s a lot of waking up for a hungry baby. But, after the first few months, the frequent night feedings should start to lessen.
Perhaps the most common piece of advice new moms get after a baby is born is to sleep when the baby sleeps. Since your baby will likely nap frequently during the day, you may not be able to get several hours of sleep at one time.
But, if you can catch a half hour nap here and there when your baby sleeps, it can give you the boost of energy you need. This old piece of advice still stands the test of time because it helps out many new moms and dads who might otherwise feel exhausted.
But, it’s understandable that you might be scared to sleep when the baby sleeps. This can make it difficult to take naps when they do or fall soundly asleep after putting them in their crib at night. That’s why developing a nighttime routine isn’t just important for your baby, it’s important for your peace of mind.
One thing many new parents do to help remedy their fears is try co-sleeping. There are many different opinions about how to sleep with a newborn at night. Unfortunately, many doctors frown on the idea because it could be a health risk to the baby.
Accidents can happen easily whether one person is sleeping with the baby, or both parents are sleeping with the baby. You may roll over, the baby could fall from the bed or off your chest, or they may suffocate from a blanket or pillow.
Obviously, these aren’t things new parents like to think about, but they are the risks involved when it comes to sharing a bed with your newborn. According to Kids Health, bed-sharing with your baby greatly increases the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
It’s a much healthier option to develop a routine for your baby in his/her own space. Room-sharing is a safe practice for newborns, but not bed-sharing. Room-sharing involves placing your baby’s sleeping space in your bedroom.
This can include:
As long as you have a designated safe sleeping space for your baby, room-sharing is a great way for you to feel more comfortable sleeping when your baby does. If they start to cry or fuss, you’re mere feet away, instead of in a different room.
To ease your mind so you can get some sleep, it’s important to follow strict safety guidelines when putting your baby to bed. A safe sleep environment will make it easier for you to fall asleep and will ensure your baby isn’t at risk throughout the night.
Keep these safety tips in mind for the ideal sleeping environment for your newborn:
Some studies have suggested that putting your baby to sleep with a pacifier can also help to reduce the chances of SIDS. Putting your baby to bed with a pacifier in their mouth is safe. But, you should never force it. If an infant keeps pushing the pacifier out, they will be fine without it.
Once you know that you’re following all the right safety precautions for your newborn, you should be able to sleep more soundly yourself.
But, having everything safely in place doesn’t mean your baby will be getting more sleep right away. In order for that to happen, a routine needs to develop.
It’s important to keep in mind that newborns will always follow their own routine. It can take several weeks or even months for them to understand the routine you’re trying to develop for them. But, there are things you can introduce right away that will eventually start to click for them that it’s ‘bedtime.’
Some of these practices will even help them to feel relaxed after waking:
There is no one routine you need to follow to get your baby to go to sleep. For many new parents, it’s a lot of trial-and-error to determine what works for them and their baby.
A lot of it will depend on your baby’s personality, your needs, and circumstances, etc. Eventually, though, you’ll find something that works for both of you.
If you’re not sure what to include in a sleep routine, some of the more common habits new parents try to use include:
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to which of these habits you need to include. It’s totally up to you how you want to arrange your baby’s bedtime routine. But, there are some general ideas you should keep in mind.
Whatever you decide to include in this routine should be calming and relaxing. Your baby needs to learn that nighttime is for sleeping, not stimulation. Loud games, toys that light up or make noises, or loud music probably won’t help your child to fall asleep quickly.
Try to end your routine in the room where your baby will sleep. You can start by giving him a bath in the bathroom. Or, try quietly playing in another room. But, the last step of your routine should either be in their room or yours, if you’re room-sharing.
Finally, don’t get upset if your routine doesn’t go to plan or doesn’t work right away. Feeling stressed about it is normal, but it can also hinder your progress. It’s easy for your baby to pick up on your emotions.
If they sense that you’re stressed out or tense around bedtime, they might start to feel that way too. That can make it even harder for them to fall asleep.
Many new mothers will admit that they aren’t getting as much sleep as they probably need. If your baby just isn’t sleeping a lot or you’re not sleeping when they do, it’s important that you find a solution.
If you’re tired, you’re not going to be able to give your child the care they need. You’re doing a disservice to yourself and your baby.
Also, this is an important time to take care of yourself. Going through pregnancy and labor is no easy task. Your body needs time to heal and recover. One of the best ways to speed up that process is to get enough rest. Even with a newborn, it’s not impossible to get the sleep you need to stay alert and healthy.
Use these tips to help you deal with sleep deprivation and finally get some rest:
For some parents, getting more sleep even when their infant is sound asleep can be difficult. Whether you’re worried about your baby or you just find yourself restless, there are some things you can do to get some shut-eye while your child is sleeping:
Whether your baby sleeps through the night in a few weeks or a few months, there are a few tried-and-tested tips that generally work for most parents.
Using these tips before bed or even in the middle of the night if your baby wakes up can be a big help. They can help you to stay calm and allow your baby to fall back asleep as quickly as possible.
The answer you’ve been looking for is finally here: What’s the best nighttime routine for a baby? Well, it may not be the answer you expected. The truth is, there is no ‘perfect’ bedtime routine for a newborn or an infant. Don’t feel as though you have to follow another parent’s routine just because it worked for them. Every baby is different and will respond differently.
Your routine might include a bath, massage, reading, a bottle, and bed. Another mom might include a song or two and cuddling before bed. The important thing is to find a routine that works for you and your child and to stick with it.
If you’re a new parent and you’ve been feeling sleep deprived, we hope this guide has given you some helpful tips. It’s not always easy to adjust to the sleep schedule of a newborn or put a sleep routine in place right away. But, with consistency and finding what works for you, your baby will be sleeping through the night before you know it.
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