How To Keep Your Newborn Baby Well Rested, Every Day

Help your new baby get all the sleep they need during the first four months

Newborn sleep can be chaotic and unpredictable; what works one day might not work the next. It’s frustrating and many parents can’t wait to start implementing more of a routine but I don’t suggest sleep training before your baby is four months of age (calculated from the estimated due date). Because simply put, up until that age your baby is not ready and may still need your help to fall asleep. There are however a few things you can do now to help him get the rest he needs that will help create great sleep habits for the future. 

The First Two Months

For these first few months, baby’s schedule will be unorganized; there is no rhyme or reason to his sleep and his biological sleep rhythms haven’t matured yet. Don’t be discouraged and do not worry aboutspoiling him or creating bad habits. Right now you only need to make sure that your baby is well rested and well fed. Keeping safe sleep in mind like the ABC’s of safe sleep; Alone, on their Back’s in their Crib (or bassinet), do what you need to in order to help him sleep.   

Day/night confusion

Make sure that he gets a lot of sunlight during the day and then keep it dark at night. It won't do too much right now (because he isn’t producing melatonin—our sleep hormone—on his own yet), but it’s a great habit to get into. This will help in the next few weeks, when nighttime sleep becomes more organized. When he wakes in the night for a feed, to be changed or for soothing, keep the room as dark as possible, keep it quiet and keep interaction to a minimum. Encourage your baby and help him to go back to sleep. 

Short intervals of wakefulness

Newborn babies sleep a lot—they can sleep 14-18+ hours and it is going to come in varying chunks throughout the day and night. A newborn can have a wake time of between 30-90 minutes before needing sleep. You may think it’s a good idea to keep a baby awake during the day so that he sleeps better at night—this will not work; an overtired baby has a harder time falling and staying asleep.

A lot of babies at this age will fall asleep anywhere—on you, in the bassinet, in the stroller, etc—and others will need your help by swaying them, humming to them etc., and that is okay. There are no rules at this age.

Two To Four Months

At this age, your baby is more aware of his surroundings. You might notice he is more social and smiles often. You will notice that he doesn’t just close his eyes and go to sleep—he will actually try to stay awake and take more in so he will need your help. The good news is that daytime and nighttime sleep becomes more organized around this age.

Introduce the crib

If your baby has been sleeping in a bassinet then at this stage we want to start to introduce the crib. It is important for your baby to have a consistent sleeping place, a place of his own (think about how much you love your own bed). You might want him to sleep in a bassinet beside your bed for bedtime, but try to offer his naps in the crib. Some families move the crib into the master bedroom and that is an excellent choice as well. Now is a great time to get away from using the swing, bouncy seats and strollers as a place to sleep. As you approach that four month mark and baby’s biological clock matures, motion sleep will not be as restorative as motionless sleep. You might start to see an increase in night wakings, short naps and early morning rising.

Soothing routine

If he can't put himself to sleep, then we will need to help him. A great way to help is with a soothing routine, a routine of similar activities each night will cue his brain that sleep will follow. What can you do as part of your soothing routine? You can read a book, sing a song, nurse, bottle feed, rock in the chair, sway with him or combine a number of these.

At this age, you are building a foundation for healthy sleep and that takes practice and consistency. Longer stretches of sleep in the night will come. Once your baby is four-months-old then you can work at extending the naps and that will help to smooth out the nights.

Take a deep breath, follow your instincts and take the pressure off. You are doing a great job mama.

Jamie Contarini is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton. Proud mama of two boys. Jamie realized that her interest in helping change some of her son’s sleep habits actually turned into a passion and she happily joined the Good Night team with her mission being to help families succeed as she did. When she is not working, Jamie enjoys family time with her husband, sons and golden retriever. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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