If you haven’t had a good night’s sleep yet since becoming a mama, you are not alone. The vast majority of first time mamas are wrestling with our sleep. We’re waking at odd hours of the night by a needy, hungry baby, then fighting sleeplessness when our newborn finally allows us some decent shut-eye.
I don’t have all the answers and I’m not a baby whisperer whatsoever, but I know how it feels to be so sleep deprived that even coffee doesn’t wire you out of your sleepy haze. I want to help you get back to a somewhat normal sleep cycle so that you can better enjoy the moments with your new little one.
I was super hesitant to even hit publish on this post. Mainly because all babies are different and no two are the same, and honestly if this sleep schedule doesn’t work for your newborn I don’t want you to totally hate me or think that there is no hope for sleep. From a mama of one and one on the way, I promise sleep will find its way back to you.
To be honest, I don’t know if it was my persistent attitude to finally be able to sleep or whether it was pure (heavenly) luck, but my daughter began sleeping through the night since she was between 2.5 – 3.5 months old. (I was so sleepy I couldn’t remember exactly). I read books, scrolled through blog posts, searched Pinterest, asked my nursing friends, and put pieces of each puzzle together from different resources to find a sleep routine that worked for my newborn.
Of course, when your baby is one week old, even one month old, they’re just getting the hang of eating and sleeping. So, getting your newborn on some type of routine at this stage isn’t necessary. Once your baby hits the one month mark, I would start implementing a routine and sticking to it as best as you can!
Our Newborn Sleep Schedule
1. Develop a nighttime routine.
Find what works for your baby. If something doesn’t work, alter your approach. Go a completely different route. When you find something that works for your baby, stick to it. Don’t give up on it. Once your newborn gets the hang of it, go through the same routine, at the same time, every single night. Consistency pays off! Just because your newborn slept most of the night for a couple of nights in a row doesn’t mean they understand the difference between night and day quite yet.
When your baby seems to be getting sleepy, rubbing his/her face and eyes, and yawning often, this is when you’ll want to start the routine.
Here’s what my baby’s nighttime routine looked like for us (and still does for the most part today):
- Unswaddle/undress baby around 6:30-7PM. We did this every night at almost the same time. This allows your baby to get a little bit uncomfortable. Eventually, they’ll be able to recognize that it’s the start of bedtime and it’s time to wind down. When your baby is only a few weeks old, feel free to start the routine a little later, around 8:30-9PM so that he/she has a better chance of sleeping later into the night.
- Bathtime. For the first couple weeks of your baby’s life, “bath time” means washing your baby with a damp washcloth. After our daughter lost her umbilical cord stump, we started baths in her baby bath tub. Proceed by drying your baby and applying lotion.
- We gave baths every other day or so (babies don’t need baths every day, it tends to dry their skin out). On the non-bath days, we washed our daughter with soapy, wet washcloth or baby wipe. We continued by drying her, then applying lotion like we did on bath night.
- Dress baby and feed while rocking. This is where you can incorporate a bedtime story if you’d like. When your baby looks like she is just about to fall asleep, lay her down. Let her fall asleep on her own.
- Give dream feed between 10-11PM to “fill baby up” for the night.
2. Lay your baby down while she is awake.
This is something that really helped my baby learn the transition from day to night. I noticed as my baby aged (around the two/three month mark), she got into the hang of the routine I established for her. This is when you want to implement good habits into your routine and keep it consistent from day to day.
3. Baby sleeps in her own bed. No co-sleeping.
*Disclaimer: I know co-sleeping is a very controversial topic. It always has been. I am just outlining what worked for us and how it could possibly work for you too. I am not agreeing, nor disagreeing with co-sleeping.*
Now that our daughter is nearly 2 years old, we do let her cuddle with us at night, some nights she fall asleep with us. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! Again, just outlining what helped us when setting up a newborn sleep schedule. 🙂
When our daughter was a brand spankin’ new, she slept in a Rock n’ Play Bassinet next to our bed. The Rock n’ Play was an absolute life saver. I loved that she could sleep alone, yet be right next to our bed. It gave me a huge sense of relief. Not to mention, she loved it just as much as I did!
I was really nervous to put her in her crib right away, by herself, in a room that I wasn’t in. (You’ll get all the feels when you become a new mama.) We made sure she was in her own space for multiple reasons. She could sleep on her own time without any interventions and very little distractions. I felt this was the safest sleeping method and it made me feel the most comfortable.
4. Keep the Routine Consistent.
With a consistent routine every night, your baby will eventually be able to recognize when it’s nighttime. I didn’t break our routine for anything. If we were out and about during the day, I made sure we were home before or at 7PM. I know I’ve said it before, but consistency is key for a successful newborn sleep routine.
5. Embrace the Dream Feed.
Whether you are a breastfeeding or bottle-feeding mom, the dream feed can be super beneficial to your sleep pattern. Between 10-11PM, we slightly “woke” our newborn into one last feed to “top her off,” so to say. This essentially filled her up to hold her over until morning and allowed her to sleep longer in between feeds. The dream feed really helped us get our daughter to sleep much longer at night. Sometimes, I woke up panicked that something was wrong because she was sleeping for hours upon hours! It’s just the right amount she needed to sleep later into the morning hours.
That’s it, mamas! Like I said before, I am no expert in baby sleep cycles. I can’t emphasize enough to simply listen to your instincts and to implement a routine that works for you and your baby.
Your baby may still go through spurts where he or she doesn’t sleep well or experiences nights of restlessness. When our daughter went through certain phases or had sore gums from teeth popping through, she had a harder time staying asleep for the night. Don’t become discouraged! Even when your newborn goes through these “rough” phases, stick to the routine. It will help them continue to recognize when nighttime arrives and will allow them to easily return to their normal sleep when they transition phases.
Keep your mental and physical strength during these transition periods, mama! Make sure your baby is getting her vital rest (or as much as possible). And sleep when baby sleeps! You got this mama.
What sleeping tips worked for your newborn? Comment them below!