Everyone expects long nights with a newborn, but baby sleep issues that continue strain any parent. Gentle, respectful strategies can help you both get better sleep.
Sweet Dreams Benefit Everybody
Positive, respectful parenting doesn't exclude a good night's sleep. You can begin establishing healthy sleep habits in your baby's first few weeks. You can do this if you're cosleeping and using a family bed, or if you prefer your baby to be in his or her own bed.
I recommend having your baby in your room to make breastfeeding, nighttime changes, and nighttime elimination communication easier any baby care option your family is using. Beyond that, use the sleep solutions that work well for your family.
Routine is the Place to Start
A regular routine is the best way to start your baby learning good sleep habits. In fact, a regular routine can help people of any age wind down and go to sleep at night.
You can easily create a routine for your baby. Keep it simple – here's an example:
- Walk around the block together
- Have a breastfeed and cuddle
- Give baby a bath
- Read a short board book
- Swaddle baby, rock, and sing
- Tuck baby in!
Even if this routine doesn't seem to “work” at first, it's still a good idea to repeat it. Your baby gets used to the routine and comes to understand that it's time to wind down and go to sleep.
By spacing baby's nursing session out from when you actually put your baby down to bed, you help your baby learn to drift off without you. Nursing to sleep is wonderfully sweet (I recommend it for a daily nap for you, and for night feeds), but you'll probably appreciate being able to put your baby down alone for naps and before you're ready for bed at night 😉
Family Bed and Baby Sleep
How have people gotten to sleep with their babies throughout time? The answer to both questions is often “sharing sleep” as Dr. William Sears coins the term.
Bringing your baby to bed with you is a natural way to help both of you feel secure at night. It usually means that you get a good night's sleep and so does baby.
Other cultures in the past and present usually slept/sleep with their babies. They know the benefits of sharing sleep with their babies and do what is natural and instinctive.
It's important to share sleep safely with your baby. There are various family bed arrangements that help your family sleep comfortably and safely. Many modern parents enjoy the benefits of a co-sleeper attached to their bed to feel comfortable with sharing sleep.(Hint: Would you like practical, no-nonsense, really-help-you-get-more sleep tips on handling nap time and bedtime with your little one? Check out the baby sleep crib sheet - no crib required - and get better sleep tonight. Get it here.)