Most moms with a newborn experience and are anxious to progress beyond the agony of sleep deprivation. Early on, often newborns eat frequently, sometimes as often as every two hours. Unless you have a helper who can handle several feedings in a row, you’re unlikely to come close to a “full night” of sleep until baby is closer to 2 to 3 months old.
In the meantime, here are some tips that may help you catch at least some of the elusive zzz’s you once knew so well:
- Make a plan. Many methods exist for helping newborns sleep through the night, so you may want to do research online to see which one best matches your parenting and family style. In addition, your friends and relatives might have suggestions to share. You can use this diverse information to create a roadmap of how you can start sleep-training with your baby. You may have to adjust course over time, but for now, find your starting point.
- Treat nighttime feedings differently. Sleeping through the night will eventually equal perhaps five to six hours of sleep between feedings. Initially, however, your baby will still be waking up at night to eat. Make a concerted effort to treat nighttime feedings differently than daytime feedings. Avoid bright lights and loud noises.
- Be consistent. Give the feeding plan you select enough time to take hold and execute it consistently. It’s not coincidental that it’s called sleep “training.” When trying to help your newborn sleep through the night, you’re teaching your baby a habit, so you need to establish predictability. Newborns have no sense of time, so create a routine that signifies the differences, such as making daytime feedings more active and nighttime feedings calmer, and letting the sun into the nursery windows in the morning and giving baby a warm, calming bath in the evening.
- Don’t get discouraged. You may feel tired and overwhelmed, learning new things about parenting every day. Your baby is learning, too. Stay positive, even when you feel sleep-deprived. Your baby won’t be a newborn for long, and each stage of his or her development will bring new challenges. The best way to undertake each stage is with humor and enthusiasm.
If you try several methods and nothing seems to work, consult with your pediatrician. Some babies who don’t sleep through the night may be suffering from acid reflux or other conditions that can be addressed if properly identified. Don’t be too shy to ask for help when needed. Giving your newborn the best opportunity to sleep through the night is bound to pay-off as well with some much needed rest for you!