Many feelings come with a new baby: excitement, hope, love, and—of course—exhaustion. It’s hard to imagine that caring for a tiny being who sleeps most of the time can be so tiring 🙃
Parents of newborns inevitably wonder when they can expect to get some rest. While the newborn phase is brief, the days (and nights) can be very long in the beginning.
4 tips to help you cope
- Don’t worry about forming bad habits. It’s absolutely fine to rock, cuddle, or feed your newborn to sleep. Despite what people may say, babies can’t form habits during their first two months of life. Your priority should be tending to your newborn’s needs.
- Try some tools to ease adjustment. Many babies do better when swaddled and white noise can be helpful, too. Pacifiers also can be calming, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving your baby one at naptime and bedtime to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If your baby is nursing, wait to offer a pacifier until breastfeeding is well established, the AAP advises. This typically happens around the 3 to 4 weeks of life.
- Set reasonable expectations. Consistent sleep patterns won’t develop for a few months. For now, your newborn’s sleep is likely to be erratic. The good news is, most new babies can sleep through anything, so don’t worry about tip-toeing around. If you’re committed to finding a routine, organize your day around your baby’s feeding schedule, not their sleeping schedule. Wake your baby to eat every 3 hours unless otherwise directed by your child’s pediatrician.
- Honor their need for sleep. Most newborns can tolerate being awake for just 45 to 60 minutes before they need to sleep again. While you may want to play, try to resist 😉 They’ll be happier and better able to learn about the world when they’re well rested. If your newborn is very fussy, particularly late in the day, and you don’t think hunger, gassiness, or a dirty diaper is to blame, they’re probably tired. Do your best to get them to a dark, quiet space. Then cuddle, bounce, or swaddle and rock them until they’re calm and ready to sleep again.
Remember, this phase goes quickly! You’ll all be sleeping through the night soon.
Learn more about the research
Hauck, F. R., Omojokun, O. O., & Siadaty, M. S. (2005). Do pacifiers reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome? A meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 116(5), e716-e723.
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