First, my disclaimer- I am not a sleep expert by any means. However, I have had three babies who are all good sleepers and I do think it has to do with the sleep strategies I have put in place from day 1. So here is my wisdom, taken from experience and countless books and articles regarding sleep. Since it’s a lot to take in, I’m going to do it in multiple posts, broken down by months.
Terms to Know-
- E.A.S.Y- Eat, Awake/Activity, Sleep, You Time
- Swaddle- The way you wrap a baby to prevent the Moro Reflex that WILL wake them if they are not properly swaddled (up to months 4-5)
Items You Need-
With a brand new baby, any type of schedule is difficult to put into place. My advice for the first month is to keep EASY in mind but don’t worry if the baby won’t stay awake after eating. The Optimal Sleep Time for the first month is no more than 40 minutes, and usually a lot less. Try for stimulation but babies need A LOT of sleep so let that baby sleep! *** It is important to realize there is a difference between real sleep and comfort sleep. Let me explain. A real sleep will happen anywhere. The baby is tired and needs sleep. A comfort sleep happens when the baby is comfortable, in your arms for example. They doze because they are content. When it’s awake time and the baby is sleeping in your arms, make sure to put the baby down and see if she stays asleep. That’s how you’ll know the difference.***
During the day– When you want the baby to sleep, I recommend a light swaddle such as the Aden and Anais blankets. I use the crib from the start for at least 1 to 2 naps which I think is helpful later on. For some reason, moms can be scared to use the crib so I recommend starting during the day when you’re awake so you start to feel more comfortable.
At night, from now until around week 10– Swaddle that baby tightly using the Summer Swaddles (I tried soooooo many and these were the best). I recommend putting the baby down for the night in a flat bassinet, pack and play or co-sleeper in your room. Then when she wakes for the middle of the night feedings, keep the lights very, very dim, change her, feed her (keep talking to a minimum) and put her in the Rock and Play, motion on. Set both the motion and the sound machine for 45 minutes. Yes, even if she’s still awake. You are starting right away to teach her to fall asleep drowsy.
It is not an easy month. You will be sleep deprived. And cranky. And more in love than you thought possible (even if it’s not your first!). If you take only one thing away from this article and by far the most important sleep advice for this month- DO NOT GIVE UP ON THE SWADDLE! The Moro Reflex is a very real thing and all babies have it. You must find a swaddle that works for you and your baby to extend a deep, restful sleep for you both.
*ALWAYS PUT A BABY TO SLEEP ON THEIR BACK*
All advice above is solely my personal opinion based on my experience. Always consult a medical professional with any medical concerns.