Newborn Sleep: What to Expect
When I was pregnant with my first, my grandmother said to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you labor doesn’t hurt because it does”. Many thanks, grandmother, but absolutely no one told me that. One thing I did hear often was, “Sleep while you can!” and “You’ll never sleep again!” You’ve probably heard this, too. Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place if you want to debunk that myth. You will sleep again!
Setting expectations, debunking myths, and wrapping our heads around something that is quite daunting…the first few weeks of sleep with a newborn.
Written by Moms on Call Consultant Sydney Smith, BSN, RN
When I was pregnant with my first, my grandmother said to me, “Don’t let anyone tell you labor doesn’t hurt because it does”. Many thanks, Grandmother, but absolutely no one told me that. One thing I did hear often was, “Sleep while you can!” and “You’ll never sleep again!” You’ve probably heard this, too. Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place if you want to debunk that myth. You will sleep again!
The First 2 Weeks
Here is a quick breakdown of what the day-to-day routine looks like during the first 2 weeks, before we progress into schedules.
- Feed on demand every 2-3 hours
- From the start of one feeding to the start of the next!
- We are feeding for 30-45 minutes ‘start to finish’. Including burping (for both breast and bottle-fed babies).
- Try and spend about 2-3 minutes burping (do it ¾ of the way through the feeding and at the end).
- Keeping the baby awake for feedings can be the most challenging part!
- Scratch the bottoms of their feet.
- Undress them down to the diaper.
- You can also wipe their heads with a cool washcloth to help them stay awake for the feeding.
- Extend tons of grace – you are both just getting the hang of this!
- Those first two weeks are a transition period for the entire family.
- You’ve got this!
- Then if the baby is healthy and gaining weight, we can adjust to the 2-4 Week Typical Day Schedule found in the Moms on Call Resources.
- Babies with GI reflux are considered “healthy” as long as they are gaining weight.
In those first few weeks, we are keeping track of wet/dirty diapers, feeds, and, well, just about everything! The brand new Moms on Call Scheduler 2.0 app is the perfect tool for busy parents ready to calm the chaos.
Teenagers are very complicated (so I hear…thank goodness we are DECADES away from that stage), but newborns are pretty simple. Exhausting but simple. Typically, full bellies lead to good sleep. For more information on feeding, read this blog post about feeding guidelines for the first six months.
Eating and sleeping…you too, mama!
While we’re on this topic of eating and sleeping, that’s what mommy needs to be doing, too. Be sure to drink lots of water, eat and rest. Your body just completed a huge marathon of pregnancy and delivery. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your baby.
Parents are eager to give tips! Here are mine.
Tip # 1 Consistency is key.
From the beginning, implement sleep associations. The sound machine is on, swaddled tight, lights out, and in the crib. Your baby’s crib should be less than 5 years old with a new mattress, mattress cover, and tight-fitted crib sheet. That tells the baby it’s time to rest. Still, my kiddo’s eyelids get heavy when the sound machine turns on. You can start this from day one. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing more wonderful than holding a sleeping baby. Enjoy every single minute! When you’re ready to get them into a routine, shoot for 2 naps a day in the crib.
Tip #2 Don’t stare at the monitor!
This seems like a silly tip, but video monitors have turned us into stalkers. Don’t stare at the monitor until their eyes close. If they need you, they’ll tell you. I wasted SO much time staring at the monitor with my first. We didn’t have a monitor in my youngest’s room until he could roll over. I slept SO much better. Read this blog post about getting back to sleep after a feeding.
This goes for daytime sleep, too! If it weren’t for these fancy things, we wouldn’t know if the baby was awake and quiet in their crib or sound asleep without opening the door to look in on them. During this time, if they are asleep, great. Awake and content, looking around, working their way back to sleep…also great. As for Mama, rest, read, have a snack, watch trash tv, or stare at the wall. Whatever you want!!
Tip #3 Try your very best not to compare!
I have to say that I fell into the trap many warned me of with baby number 2. A second boy, born 3 weeks to the day from exactly 2 years apart. Same season (waddled through yet another Christmas!), everything was the same – except for my boys! Number 2 was a pound and a half bigger than my first. Breastfeeding was seamless; where It was filled with hurdles and added stress the first go around.
Number 2 was “easier,” but as month 2 turned to 3, he wasn’t sleeping well at night as big brother did. How could this be!? He’s in the same swaddle, crib, and even pajamas as my first, and he weighs more! It’s because they are different. He’s not a repeat. He’s a baby! So, what did I do? Reread every word of the MOC book. Made sure everything was in place, and after a few nights, we were rocking and rolling. Were tears shed? – Sure! Is my baby the jolliest baby since his big brother? – Absolutely.
Moms on Call provides simple, sensible parenting resources to sleep, feed, laugh, and love birth through toddlerhood. If you are looking for additional support, MOC Certified Consultants are here for you.
View all of Moms on Call’s safety product recommendations on our Products We Love and Toddler Toys & Safety pages. Our Online Video Courses and books are also great resources with safety tips throughout!