DSC00974You’ve just brought your baby home from the hospital, you get in the door and you think “ok, now what?”  If it’s your first child, you have no idea what to expect and you are basically learning as you go.  But don’t worry!  You can never spoil an infant, so this is a wonderful chance to hold, cuddle, and bond with your baby.  Respond to your child’s needs and try to get as much rest as possible!  It helps to set realistic expectations when it comes to your newborn’s sleep so that you can plan ahead and get the rest you need as well.  Keep these 5 things in mind when dealing with your newborn’s sleep.

Sleep is Very Unorganized
Your child’s biological sleep rhythms don’t exist yet, so there are no patterns as to when and how long your baby will sleep for.  Most newborns will sleep 15-18 hours a day, in 2-4 hour stretches.

Day/Night Confusion
Newborns often have day/night confusion, which means that they sleep for longer periods during the day, and have longer awake periods at night.  If your child is experiencing day/night confusion, keep some lights on and make some noise during the day, and keep it as dark and quiet as possible at night.  Keep the lights dim and avoid talking to your baby during night feedings.  You don’t want your child thinking it’s time to play!

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Short Wakeful Periods
During the day, your baby will only have short wakeful periods – around 1 to 2 hours only.  Keep this timeframe in mind so that you can incorporate a soothing routine to help them relax and promote sleep.

Cannot Create Bad Habits
At this point you cannot create any bad habits, so do whatever it takes to soothe your baby to sleep.  Some soothing techniques you can try are gentle rocking, swaddling, cuddling, baby massage, singing, baby swings, and sucking (nursing or pacifier).

Taking Care of YOU
Looking after a newborn is the equivalent of working 3 full-time jobs with very little sleep, and it’s exhausting. Take every opportunity to get some rest yourself, and although you’ve probably heard it a million times, it really does help to sleep when the baby sleeps so that you can recharge for the next shift.  Don’t be shy about asking friends and family to help out while you go pamper yourself, or take a nap.  If you don’t get the rest you need, your body’s immune system will struggle to fight off illness, your fine motor skills will suffer and simple tasks like climbing the stairs becomes dangerous, and you’ll be crankier and at a greater risk for postpartum depression.  Don’t wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honour, and do yourself and your family a favour by looking after your needs too.

If you would like one-on-one guidance on establishing healthy sleep habits for your infant, visit http://www.babyzzz.ca/sleep-solutions/ for more information on how we can work together and the services I offer.