by Brandi (Kansas)
My daughter, and firstborn, is three weeks old and I have been reading your newsletters about getting babies to sleep and developing good sleep habits.
I saw that the ‘peaceful sleep method' said to not nurse babies to sleep, ect. I was wondering if that applied to newborns?
Right now Aliyah likes to nurse almost all the time (it seems anyway), and she usually always nurses herself to sleep. I can then usually place her on the bed (she sleeps with us) and she'll sleep till she's ready for her next feeding, usually about 2 hours or so.
Should I be doing something different to start developing a good sleep pattern now? Would you recommend me trying to get her to sleep by herself at this point?
I want to make every transition for her as gentle as possible and would like to plan ahead and not have to ‘retrain' something that I have messed up now.
This is a good question and I'm glad you sent it in.
Babies up to three months old really do need very frequent feedings and some babies even need to nurse at night for longer than that. You can judge and decide if you want to keep nursing through the night for longer.
I personally have always nursed through the night longer – I've always had my babies in bed with me, so it hasn't been a problem. Generally I've night weaned when I was ready to have baby start staying in their own bed for the entire night.
So that's up to you.(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.)
It can be very hard to keep a newborn awake after nursing. I think the best tactic with your little one right now is to start thinking about a good sleep routine now, and perhaps start to work on it – a fresh diaper, pajamas, and song, or whatever you'd like to make your routine.
You can try and keep her awake at the end of her feeding so you can lay her down drowsy, but she just may not be able to stay awake! Newborns are so sleepy, and like you said your daughter does, they tend to just wake to nurse, then go back to sleep for a bit.
I wouldn't worry about it too much now, and in a couple of months you can start gently encouraging her to be more awake at the end of a nursing session, maybe by moving her final nursing before bed a little earlier, then getting her changed and ready for bed.
But with a little newborn, I would mostly just work on getting her to sleep consistently at night (nursing and going right back to bed – not being up at night), then worry about other sleep habits when she's a little bigger and the newborn sleepy period is finished.
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