How to get your Newborn on a Good Sleep Schedule from Day One
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The number one thing you crave as a new mom is sleep. All you want to do is sleep. Getting your newborn on a good sleep schedule from the beginning is crucial, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
What the heck to do with a Newborn?
Before having my little girl I asked anybody that had ever had a newborn what the heck to do?
How will I know what to do?
How will I know what they want?
How will I be able to take care of this little human when I have absolutely no experience?
Unfortunately, baby’s don’t come with a guidebook.
I wouldn’t mind if God hid it in the Placenta, haha. I mean, how hard would that be?
A lot of people tell you that your motherly instinct will kick in, and I would have to agree. It really does. You feel connected to this new human you just made and for some reason you know what to do, MOST of the time.
But for those times when you don’t know, you need extra help, especially if you’re not sleeping.
Several of my friends referred me to a book called Babywise. This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a guidebook.
This is one of the very few books about parenting that I keep on my shelf for easy access, AND I put highlights in it.
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I read it cover to cover before my daughter was born. I even made charts!
This helped me feel a little more prepared. I wasn’t as scared because I had a basic formula I could follow.
I’m a planner; I love plans. This book gave me a plan. I easily understood it and it seemed easy to implement. (and it was!)
I recommend this book to every new parent, and not just first time parents, but any parent about to have a baby.
I reread the book before my son was born. (my 2nd child) I had already highlighted all the important stuff, so I just reviewed it. The strategies it teaches worked really well with my daughter, why not do the same for my son?
I will probably read it again when I have a 3rd child.
Babywise teaches you how to put your newborn on a schedule, and a schedule that actually works.
Here are some of the best tips from the book, and what worked for us, to help get your newborn sleeping through the night quickly.
How to Get Your Newborn on a Good Sleep Schedule
A newborn does not have the ability to organize their day. He/She does not know night from day. They only know what is taught and required to adapt to.
You have to teach your baby how to be on a schedule.
Related: Stay at Home Mom Schedule for Mom’s with Young Children
If you feed your baby every 3 hours, then they will start to be hungry every three hours. It’s like clockwork.
If you’re feeding your baby every 30 minutes, they will start to be hungry, or think they are hungry every 30 minutes.
I’m not saying you have to treat your baby like a robot, but they will stick to whatever routine you teach them. They actually thrive off of schedules and prefer them.
The Feed-Wake-Sleep Schedule
When managing our newborn’s schedule we used the eat-play-sleep scheduled as outlined in the book.
They eat, you play with them to make them sleepy and give them love and interaction, then you put them to sleep.
Side Note: don’t get so wrapped up in doing the schedule that it drives you crazy. Be okay with messing it up sometimes and tweaking it how you need it to be. Don’t stress yourself because that doesn’t help anything either.
We were able to get my daughter sleeping through the night by 7 weeks on this schedule.
Which was really good because she was a colicky baby, so if she hadn’t slept in addition to that, I might not have made it out alive.
Related: How to relieve colic in your baby
We did the same strategy for my son, and it worked just as well.
The schedule is easy to implement, but it does take some work.
It is so worth it, though, to have a baby that sleeps through the night, takes naps, and eats on a schedule.
It is Ah. MAZ. ing.
It’s like they become predictable.
I will also say that it’s not about trying to beat a time frame when trying to get them to sleep through the night. It was 7 weeks for our daughter, but 10-12 for our son. Every baby is different, and you have to do what you feel is best for your baby.
Remember, it’s not a contest, and it’s not about time, but it’s about getting proper sleep and being able to get your baby on a good schedule so you get proper sleep as well.
During the feeding time of the schedule you want to make sure your baby is getting the full feeding. Make sure they eat all in one sitting and are filling up.
This causes a ripple effect: A good feeding makes a productive play time which makes a good nap time, which makes a good feeding time.
Good sleep for your newborn effects everything from their growth to their brain function.
A full feeding can be exceptionally hard during the nighttime feedings because you just want to go to bed and the baby doesn’t want to stay awake to finish eating.
You can put them back to bed without finishing their meal, but they’ll just be up sooner. Which is hard on the baby and the mama.
Try your best to always get a full feeding at each feeding.
Characteristics of a full feeding (as stated in the Babywise book)
- A sufficient amount of time feeding, 10-15 minutes per breast or 20-30 minutes of formula
- Hearing the swallowing of milk
- Baby pulling away when satiated
- Burping well after
- Napping well after
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Play time happens after the feedings while the baby is awake.
There are several things you can do during play time with a newborn/baby including:
- Bath Time
Make sure they are also getting some alone time. You could do one of the following activities:
- Infant Seat
- Bouncy Seat
- Tummy Time
- Infant Jungle Gym
- Exersaucer (once able to sit up)
- The Bumbo Seat (once able to sit up)
All of these activities contribute to a newborns/infants development, happiness, and their ability to get proper sleep.
After a proper feeding and play time, your newborn is ready to sleep. As a newborn, your baby will sleep most of the day. As they get older, that will slowly lessen.
These are the averages of sleep time for babies (according the Babywise studies)
- 1-2 Weeks: 17-19 hours with 5-6 naps per day
- 3-4 Weeks: 16-18 hours with 5-6 naps per day
- 5-7 Weeks: 15-18 hours with 4-5 naps per day
- 8-12 Weeks: 14-17 hours with 4-5 naps per day
- 13-16 Weeks: 13-17 hours with 3-4 naps per day
- 17-24 Weeks: 13-16 hours with 3-4 naps per day
- 25-38 Weeks: 13-15 hours with 2-3 naps per day
- 39-52 Weeks: 12-15 hours with 2 naps per day
This helped me a ton raising my kiddos because I knew how much sleep they needed and how important it was to keep their nap schedule. It also gave me validation in my decisions to make them nap. (especially as an anxious mom)
Babywise goes into way more details on how to keep the nap time schedule, when and how long your baby should be sleeping, and a sample schedule for each week.
This is the schedule we generally stuck to for our babies: (0-2 Months)
7:00 am Wake Up for Day- Eat
9:30-10:00 am Eat
12:30-1:00 pm Eat
12:30-1:00 am Eat (Night-time feeding)
Play- Short Play or go right back to sleep
Play- Short Play or go right back to sleep
7:00 am Wake up
Eventually they drop the first midnight feedings and then the second.
You don’t really have to worry about the play and sleep times because if you are feeding them every 3-4 hours, their play time and sleep time will just fall into place, and that’s the easy part!
Honestly, the best tip away from this is if you’re doing full feedings every 3-4 hours, you’ll be able to get them on a good schedule.
Getting Ready for Bed
The book also goes into detail about how you should lay your baby down in the crib while they are still awake and teach them to fall asleep on their own.
We did this a little differently than the book suggests. Neither of my children were able to just lay down and go to sleep without help. (yes, those type of babies do exist, I’ve heard of them).
My daughter liked laying down with an empty bottle (which can be a huge no-no due to gas, but we did it anyway), and she was fine. She wouldn’t take a pacifier. We broke that habit when she was 2 and it was really easy.
She also did not like to be rocked, so we’d put her down with her bottle, awake. At first she’d cry, and we did let her cry, but we didn’t just let her “cry it out”. The book goes into good detail about this, and I like it.
We would lay her down and then check on her every 10-15 minutes if she was crying. We’d talk to her, reassure her we were there and then go away. It took about 3 days and then she was content with her bottle. I definitely believe it was a huge factor in her becoming a good sleeper.
My boy was different. He loved to be rocked, so we rocked him. We didn’t start sleep training until he was about 12 weeks and we did the same method as my daughter. It worked great.
There’s nothing magic about 12 weeks, that’s just what we felt comfortable with.
Another great takeaway from the book, for me, was
“Crying for 10,15, or even 20 minutes will not harm your baby physically or emotionally. Your baby will not lose brain cells, experience a drop in IQ, or have feelings of rejection that will leave him/her manic-depressive at age 30! That is because a few minutes of crying will not undo all the love and care Mom and Dad have displayed day and night.”
Newborns are like drunk roommates, so it’s best to have a handbook. (Just kidding!)
Following this routine and schedule helped both my babies sleep through the night at a young age. It was a life saver for me.
If you can get your babies on a good sleep schedule you are getting more sleep, you have more time for your own self-care, and you are better able to take care of your baby and family.
Both my kids are great sleepers, I mean, they definitely have their moments, but it made my life so much easier as a new mom to get proper sleep weeks after having a baby.
One of best times to read this book is when you’re pregnant. There is a lot of information to go through and it would be nice to have notes to refer to before the baby comes.
Related: The Good, the bad, and the Ugly of Pregnancy
Obviously, you should always do what you feel best for your child. There were times we didn’t stick to the schedule, or I felt like I needed to do something different that day for my baby.
This is where motherly instinct come in handy.
The great thing about the schedule is that it’s easy to hop back on it if you go astray. Which, lets be honest, always happens with babies.
More About the Book, Babywise
This is seriously the number one book I recommend to new parents. It is just so helpful and informative.
It was written by a Pediatrician who specializes in high risk newborns.
You can buy Babywise on Amazon or any bookstore should have it.
Babywise also teaches you:
- What are feeding cues and when to recognize them
- Proper nursing positions
- Ways to keep baby awake during feedings
- Measuring food intake
- The exact schedule for each week of the first year of your baby’s life – This was amazing for me!
- Reviews colic, reflux, and the inconsolable baby
- How to merge feedings
- Understanding your baby’s cries
- Different reasons your baby may be struggling to sleep and how to fix it
- The exceptions
- Bests ways to burp baby
- How your baby is developing, which leads into their next book “On Becoming Pretoddlerwise”
- Common questions answered
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