Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits with Your Newborn

During the first few months of your baby’s life, you may not get a ton of sleep. Your child will wake up at all hours during the night and you may very quickly become overwhelmed. The sad truth is; most babies are unable to develop regular sleep habits until they are roughly 8 weeks old.

While these first few months will surely be challenging, there are a few tricks that you can use to make life a little easier. Knowing when your baby is tired and when to put them in their crib for a nap is crucial to establishing healthy sleep habits.

Signs that Your Baby is Tired

During the first few weeks, your newborn will only be able to stay awake for a couple of hours at a time. This makes it very important for you to be able to notice the sweet spot. If you keep your child up too long, they will be over-tired and will have difficulties falling asleep, but if you don’t keep them up long enough, they won’t be tired to begin with.

Your baby will show you that they are tired by:

  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Pulling on their ears
  • Developing faint dark circles around the eyes
  • Yawning
  • Having heavy eye lids (trouble keeping eyes open)

If you notice any of these signs, you should put your newborn into their crib. Chances are, they will drift off to sleep within minutes. If you do put them in their crib and they still don’t fall asleep, then take them out after 10 to 15 minutes and wait for more signs before trying again.

Show them the Difference Between Night and Day

One of the most important things about establishing a healthy sleep routine is knowing the difference between night and day. Babies cannot tell the difference, so it’s up to you to establish a routine early on.

In order to do so, you should act differently during the day than you do at night. Play with them and be more “active” during the day. Open the curtains to let the sun come in and have some music playing or the television on during the day. This will create a sense of activeness that shows your baby that it’s okay to be active, louder and more alert during the daytime.

Likewise, during the night you should close the curtains, dim the lights and talk less while feeding them. Try to minimize noise and keep things as calm as possible. With time, this will allow your newborn to figure out that night time is associated with quiet time and daytime is the best time to play and be active.

Don’t Forget About Yourself

One thing most new parents forget to take care of is their own sleep routine. While you won’t be able to get 8 hours of sleep in a row, you still need to get plenty of sleep. As tempting as it seems to do laundry or wash dirty dishes while your little one is asleep, you should use that time to rest.

Sleeping when your child sleeps is the best way to get rest during the first 2 to 3 months. During the night, it’s great to take shifts with the child’s father. Most newborns will be awake for roughly 2 to 3 hours then sleep for 2 to 3 hours. So by taking shifts, you can easily sleep 4 to 6 hours at a time during the night.

Be Cautious of Bad Habits

It’s important to not take “short cuts” during the first few weeks. Rocking your child to sleep every night as a newborn may seem like a great idea at first, but if you get your child into this habit, they will expect it later on as well and may have more difficulties falling asleep on their own as they grow older.

The best way to approach this is to place your child in their crib when they display signs of sleepiness. This gets them used to falling asleep on their own and will certainly make your life a lot easier as they grow older.