After major sleep challenges with big sister, I was determined to start working on healthy sleep habits from the start with number two. What I knew after the birth of our second was that I begin to struggle with mental health after just a few days of poor quality sleep, so it was really important self-care for me to prioritize independent sleep for a really young baby.
In some ways this concerned me because I knew that newborns didn't have the ability to sooth themselves if they get overtired or overstimulated. However, I also knew that their brain and body want to link sleep cycles and I trusted that I could help this sweet baby girl stack the building blocks for healthy sleep. One at a time. Step by step.
In the hospital after Baby Sister's birth, we had a few all-night milk parties where I didn't sleep more than 3 hours each night. I made sure that when we arrived home we started working to shift her midnight fiesta time to a more convenient hour. Soon, she learned to cluster feed from 8-10pm and there was a lot more solid sleep happening at night so I could get the rest I was needing. Making magical mommy juice is no joke! New mamas need lots of quality rest for that job, not to mention healing the body after birth.-
I was surprised myself, but it's true: The Newborn Plan actually works!! Most people resign themselves to the fact that all babies are terrible sleepers, but that does not have to be your reality. Newborns are also incredible learners, and implementing a plan with patience and compassion worked better than I could have dreamed! Now when exhausted parents contact me at 7, 9, or even 22 months of powering through the challenges of parenting on a few hours of interrupted sleep each night I wish we could get in a time machine and head back in time to implement healthy sleep habits from the start.
Newborn Sleep Tip: Night vs. Day
Babies have been on their own agenda in the womb and would happily continue that after they arrive earthside. It will help if you can teach them about day and night with these cues:
DAY - Starts at 7 or 8am and that's when we eat and have fun activity time between naps.
Keep babies involved in fun activities for 30-60 minutes after waking.
Allow them to sleep in lighter clothes, and looser swaddle or sleep sack.
If nap is going over 2 hours, open curtains and help them to wake up for their next meal.
NIGHT - Starts at 7 or 8pm and that's when we sleep, sleep, sleep, eat, and sleep some more.
Keep babies in dim light, no talking or stimulation when diaper changing or feeding.
Bundle babies up in warm sleepers and tight womb-like swaddles.
If they ate full meals every 3-4 hours during the day, no need to wake babies up every 2 hours. Let them - and you! - get the healthy sleep growing bodies and minds need!
Learn more about my sleep packages for newborns on my website. It makes a great gift for expecting families.
"The Newborn Plan totally works, we continue to be blown away by our daughter's predictable and wonderful sleep habits. By following the sleep plan we were able to teach her to sleep without needing to nurse and instead helped her find a way to soothe herself to sleep. She overcame a tiresome sleep schedule where she would wake often with uncomfortable reflux and gas. She quickly showed us that eating upon waking was much better for her digestion and mood. Now at three months old she only wakes to eat once per night and has a regular daytime napping schedule. Our well-rested baby is so happy! We remain ever so thankful for your guidance, Kristine!" N.L., Idaho