Hush little baby. Shhhhh. Go to sleep, go to sleeeeeep. Zzzzzz.
How many ways can we say it, right? Newborns just are not expert sleepers in the beginning. It takes about 3-4 months for them to start to get a sleep routine. During that time, parents want some Zzzzzzs too!
So how do you maximize sleep with a newborn?
Tag Team – During those early days, you and your partner may need to tag team the baby’s care. Meaning when baby is hungry, you both show up to duty. Partner, you can change the diaper, and get baby ready to eat. Mom, you run to the bathroom, grab some water and your phone, and get settled in for feeding. At that point you can decide if the partner goes back to bed or waits to help rock and shush baby back to sleep.
Taking shifts – Some parents find it easier to take shifts. This works especially well if the birthing parent is pumping, or if you are formula feeding. One parent can take a 4 hour slot and do all the baby care, then switch to the other parent. This gives you both a longer stretches to catch some Zzzzzzs.
Sleep when baby sleeps – This is much easier said than done since babies usually wake every 2-3 hours during the first 6 weeks. And then there’s the feeding, changing, rocking that needs done on the same schedule. Some parents feel they just get the baby down and it’s time to start all over. Sleeping when baby sleeps may mean the dishes and laundry wait so you can catch up on those Zzzzzzs. A mom of 3 told me she created a nest in the corner of her couch. Diapers, wipes, extra onsies, phone charger, snacks, and water were all within easy reach. If baby fell asleep, she went to sleep too, not leaving her nest until she had to pee. Those little naps were what got her through.
Day vs night confusion – Some babies have their days and nights mixed up and are wide awake when the sun goes down. They sleep like champions during the day and parents start to feel a little anxious about the night ahead. The regular noises and light levels in your house during the day will help baby learn is daytime. At night, keeping the lights and noise to minimum help baby learn it’s time to keep sleeping.
Sleep shaping – Creating a bedtime routine, even in the early weeks, can help your baby fall into a good sleep rhythm. So feeding, bathing, story time, and snuggling all create a routine for baby to follow and then grow into. Following a pattern as early as possible, makes it easier when the real sleep training starts between 4-6 months.
Postpartum doula – If you need to catch up on those Zzzzzzs, hiring a postpartum doula can help. Whether daytime or nighttime support, our postpartum doulas are there to help maximize your sleep. So if baby need extra burping, holding, and swaddling, your doula take care of that while you go back to bed. Let us know if you want to chat about support!
And may you capture all the Zzzzzzs you need as you grow into parenthood.