4 Tips to Help Establish Good Sleeping Habits with Your Newborn Baby

  1. Establish an eat, wake, sleep cycle early.

 

Remember that things with newborns take time. Just because it’s impossible to keep your 2-week-old awake while she nurses, does not mean it will be impossible to keep her awake during a feed in 2-3 weeks. Initially, it’s helpful to at least try to focus some energy on establishing an eat, wake, sleep cycle. Help your newborn try to stay as awake as possible during their feeding, and then keep them awake a bit longer until you see a yawn or other tired sign, which is when you will get them to fall asleep for a nap. If you try to put some energy towards helping your newborn somewhat disassociate feeding and sleeping, it will be one less habit to break when the time comes to sleep train baby.

 

  1. Learn your newborn’s sleep cues.

 

This can be tricky as not all newborns exhibit sleep cues, and when they do, they can go from awake to asleep very quickly.  A sleep cue can be something as simple as a unique kind of cry or yelp, a certain rhythmic head motion, or a glassy-eyed stare.  Keep in mind, too, to look for these cues about 35-50 minutes after a newborn wakes. Very young babies often want to sleep frequently.

 

  1. Establish an environment that is conducive to sleep.

 

Even though your 5-week-old baby seems to sleep anywhere, it’s very helpful to get them used to a healthy sleeping environment in the initial weeks of life. All that’s really needed is a crib or Pack n’ Play, loud white noise, and a very dark room. Even if you help your child fall asleep by bouncing or rocking, giving them at least some opportunities to practice sleeping in an appropriate sleep environment can help the shift to sleep training be less shocking later down the line.

 

  1. Relax

 

The most important thing to remember is that needing to sleep train can simply not be prevented. Newborns do not just come out of their mother’s bodies knowing how to fall asleep unassisted. As such, parents develop ways to help their babies fall asleep, and whether it’s co-sleeping and nursing throughout the night, using a swing, or sleeping in a carrier, any assistance that a newborn gets to fall asleep is interchangeable, and all of these habits are equally difficult to break. So, if you cannot prevent the need to sleep train, do the best you can during those intense newborn weeks to do what you need to do in order to get the sleep you need. Then worry about breaking the inevitable habits you have formed later down the line, when it’s more developmentally appropriate for your child to fall asleep unassisted. In other words, relax during those early weeks, and try not to worry too much about creating habits. Do what you can to foster positive sleep habits, but most importantly, take advantage of bonding with your baby.

By |2017-04-13T12:58:17+00:00March 30th, 2016|Categories: Getting Baby to Sleep Longer, Newborn, Sleep Training, Videos|10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jessie March 30, 2016 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    My baby is due any day, and even though it will be #3, this is a great reminder. Thanks!

    • Natalie April 24, 2016 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Congrats and good luck with the delivery!!

  2. Irene April 23, 2016 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Hi Natalie – your tips make sense, but at how many weeks/ months do you typically suggest starting to sleep train? Is there an age that babies are better able to self soothe and be able to be sleep trained, or any age where they’re too young to learn self soothing?

    • Natalie April 24, 2016 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Irene, I wouldn’t start before 16 weeks of age. Generally any age after 4 months produces pretty consistent results, and I wouldn’t mess around with training before 4 months or any age your pediatrician says your baby is too young to train.

  3. Ivy May 9, 2016 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    My daughter is 7 weeks today and we are starting to sleep train her for naps. Is that too young? For our survival, we did everything we shouldn’t to get her to sleep to the point where she never really learned to sleep or nap in her crib. She mainly sleeps on my chest or my husband’s. Few times, she’ll nap in the mamaroo or Fischer price rocker but her best sleeps are on us. I am starting to disassociate nursing and sleeping but when these sleep training for naps fail she gets so upset that once I pick her up, she wants to nurse for a few seconds for comfort then falls asleep very quickly in my arms or in bed. When these sleep training for naps fail, what do I do then?

    • Natalie May 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      I would stop all training 😉 She’s not really ready to be totally successful, and, it’s not really a great idea to train piecemeal. Once shes older, around 4 months, you can train her then and remove all the associations at once and it’ll be a lot painful then it’ll be if you do it right now.

  4. Joanne September 13, 2016 at 11:55 am - Reply

    This post is exactly what I needed to hear! Just had my second and was wondering his very same thing! thanks!

  5. Mariah September 14, 2016 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    This is the first article on sleep training my newborn that has actually been helpful. Thank you!!

  6. Lindsey April 4, 2017 at 4:41 am - Reply

    Thanks so much Natalie! We have done the training with you for our first, Daphné, at 20 months, and it’s been sleep for the whole family ever since!!! Now, expecting our second Aug 2017, I’m reading everything you have on the blog. I tell every mama I can about you!

    • Natalie April 4, 2017 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Thank you, Lindsey!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 Congratulations on the pregnancy <3

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