You and Your Newborn: How to Sleep Well and Promote Healthy Sleeping Habits

How To Sleep Well With Newborn

Several weeks ago, we wrote about how to get better sleep while pregnant. The article went into detail about the physical, hormonal and emotional changes you go through while pregnant and how it all affects your sleep routine. If you like you can check it out here.

Today we’re switching gears ever so slightly. We’re still on the topic of getting great sleep, but this article emphasizes sleeping well once baby’s already arrived. In addition, we cover how to promote healthy sleeping habits for your newborn.

Many of the same sleep rules apply here as they did for getting to sleep while pregnant. For example, regular daytime exercise, meditation, avoiding no-no’s, maintaining good hygiene and sleeping on comfortable bedding all facilitate sounder sleep. One variable that changes post-pregnancy, though, is the biggest issue you’ll have to contend with when it comes to catching ZZZ’s: Getting your newborn baby to sleep, too. 

Tips for Getting Better Sleep With Your Newborn

Anyone who’s now on the other side of their pregnancy understands that getting sleep is easier said than done with a newborn at your side. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, though. We spoke with two experts about the ever difficult task of getting your baby to fall asleep, which will inevitably help you sleep better, too. Below are some of their tips.

Create a Safe and Calm Environment

A calm sleep environment means minimal sounds, minimal lights and a comfortable room temperature. All of the above will promote better sleep for both you and your newborn.

It’s also important to consider your child’s safety.

“SIDS safety guidelines recommend all parents keep their baby in their room in the first months for close monitoring,” notes Heidi Holvoet, a sleep parenting consultant at Baby Sleep Advice and award-winning author. “That can be through a safe co-sleeping arrangement, a bedside crib or a standalone crib. A safe sleeping place is not only important to prevent injuries, it also automatically makes a baby feel safe and better sleep is a direct consequence.”

Also realize that if you know your newborn is safe, you will sleep much better.

Don’t Expect Consolidated Sleep

“In the first several weeks, new moms should not expect much consolidated sleep,” says Ancy Lewis, a certified sleep coach who founded the company Sleeping Little Dreamers.  “The goal is to meet the babies needs, establish milk supply if breastfeeding, and bond with the baby.

For a while, and especially in the first few months, your little family may sleep at odd hours. However, the important fact to remember is that you’re actually getting sleep. It’s just not all happening at once. In time, a more normal sleeping pattern will present itself.

Allow for a Natural Sleep Pattern

“For a newborn baby to sleep optimally, and to prepare for good sleeping skills later on, allowing her natural sleep patterns to develop freely is important,” says Holvoet. “That means not trying to fit a tiny new baby into some sort of schedule in those first weeks. If you manage to follow her lead, which will be based on feeding needs first and foremost, you will find that you arrive at a nice regularity for both.”

In other words: Don’t try to force a sleeping pattern on your newborn. Go with the flow and you’ll both be better off.

Tips for Developing Healthy Sleeping Habits in Infants

There are ways you can promote healthy sleeping habits in your infant. Lewis breaks it down.

1. Put Baby to Sleep “Drowsy, but Awake” at Least Once a Day.

This means you should not have the infant already asleep when you put her in her crib.

“Sleep is a learned skill,” says Lewis. “By putting a child down ‘drowsy but awake,’ there is an opportunity for a child to develop some self-soothing skills.

2. Avoid Feeding Baby at Every Single Cry

Feeding your baby every time he awakes in the night crying may make him dependent on the bottle or breast.

“Understanding a baby’s different needs by his cries will take some time,” notes Lewis. “Keeping a log of a baby’s eating and sleeping times can help show patterns of when a child is truly hungry.”

She also says it’s important to check with your pediatrician to make sure your newborn is getting enough nutrients.

“If this is the case, moms can offer other soothing techniques other than feeding at every cry,” she says.

3. Create a Routine

“Developing a routine of naps, awake time and outside time can help infants start to fall into a pattern,” explains Lewis. “Routines are very soothing for babies and help them get an understanding of what to expect.”

Do note that, because of the nature of newborns, you should be flexible when it comes to a routine. As your baby gets older, you can become more structured and consistent with her regimen.

This page was last updated on 06/2017
What do you need help with?