This Week’s Question for Batya:
My baby is a few weeks old and I am so nervous of going through the same thing I did with my older son! I don’t know how to start off putting him to sleep etc and I’m a wreck already. Nights aren’t so bad as he can last decent stretches, but every time a naptime or bedtime draw near I actually get nauseous. He only falls asleep after being nursed and in a deep sleep, and I’m so nervous he’ll wake up every time I put him down. Swaddling him with a regular blanket doesn’t really work, but I’m hesitant to use a special swaddling blanket because I don’t want to immobilize him.
Please help me figure out how to start him off right!
Hi Yael -
First and foremost, don’t panic! The most important thing to keep in mind with newborns is the idea of introducing healthy sleep habits to start things off on the right foot. At this age it is completely normal to fall asleep while nursing…that’s what newborns do! (Check out my article on newborn sleep here!) But by trying to space out the feedings and follow the ideas below, it will most definitely steer you in the right direction. Please realize that the ideas below are not a magic formula or solution, but if you can remain as consistent with them as possible you can ensure that you’re able to introduce proper patterns and associations from the start and not let things escalate into such a difficult situation, like you had with your older son.
Newborn Sleep Tips
1) Wake him up every 3 hrs to nurse during the day…even if he’s sleeping! Try your best to ensure he stays awake while eating and if he falls asleep, tickle his toes, undress him a bit etc. This is to ensure he eats well and isn’t hungry before the next 3 hr mark. (*If you’re ever concerned about your newborn’s weight gain or liquid intake, consult with your doctor immediately. A full-term newborn that is gaining healthily and eating well can generally last 3 hours, but not all babies can! Speak to your doctor to decide what is best for your baby…)
2) Swaddle, Swaddle, Swaddle! When it’s time for sleep, ensure you swaddle him, both day and night to help prevent the moro reflex (which is that startle reflex with newborns that actually wakes them up). There are many swaddling blankets available on the market today, but try to find one with velcro that he won’t easily wiggle his way out of.
3) In the night, if he wakes frequently, try to space the feedings by at least 3-4 hrs (assuming he can last that long during the day). Try using other means possible to help him fall back asleep so he doesn’t become accustomed to eating so frequently. If he is truly hungry in the night – obviously feed him, but it’s helpful to try adjusting his body to eat more during the day and less in the night.
4) Try to begin establishing predictable wake time and nap times. It’s kinda difficult when he’s so little, but if he’s napping well during the day he should be able to stay awake for 45 min- 1 hr between naps.
To really see progress with such little babies, you have to be ready to be consistent for a good 3-4 weeks. From there you will have him onto a decent routine and know what his body needs and when. At this point if further issues arise, they’re much easier to tackle already having the proper “sleep foundation” set in place. Sleep Well!