Newborns with their tiny tummies need to feed every few hours, and that means you, Mom, are going with little sleep for the first few months.
Forcing a schedule on babies may not be the best solution, according to Discovery Fit & Health: “Babies don’t tell time with clocks; they’re governed solely by their needs to be fed, changed, and comforted.” In fact, adds the trusted website Ask Dr. Sears, sleep training through the “cry it out” method might even do long-term damage: “This can lead to children developing unhealthy attitudes toward sleep. Worse, they learn that they can’t depend on parents to meet their nighttime needs.”
The ultimate goals for nights with your newborn should be:
- Create a sleep-inducing environment that allows sleep to overtake the baby naturally.
- Meet your baby’s nutritional and emotional needs.
- Get some rest yourself!
Sounds like conflicting objectives? Not really. Here are some tips to help you adjust:
- Be realistic. Avoid preset notions of what your baby’s nighttime schedule should be (try not to be jealous/annoyed with moms who gush about how their infants sleep through the night) and you can deal with this adjustment with less frustration and expectations.
- Follow your baby’s lead. Ask Dr. Sears says that babies “know intuitively how much nursing they need for nourishment and comfort.” Understand that your baby wakes to feed because he really needs it to thrive.
- Rest as much as you can. Newborns nap as much as 16 to 17 hours a day, albeit not in one long stretch. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Resist the urge to clean the house or catch up on chores. Your priority should be to make up for the lost night hours and regain your energy.
- Ask for help. Dad can handle one of the baby’s feedings and bond with him at the same time. If you breastfeed, it might be a good idea to get your child used to one feeding via bottle that Dad gives.
- Set the night mood. To help your baby learn good sleep habits, teach them the difference between night and day. At night, keep the house or room dim, make feedings quiet, and limit talking and activity. That way, he will realize that night is for resting and day is for socialization and play.
And if all else fails, remember that this, too, shall pass! Infancy passes in a heartbeat and pretty soon you’ll have an active toddler who falls asleep on his own. Enjoy what you can for now and take heart.