Advice from the new mom and new baby sleep expert
As many moms will tell you – it is a blur those first few months after your baby is born. Up all night, trying to figure out cues for when they want to eat, sleep or burp and how to simply get a nap in at sometime in someplace.
We asked Meredith Kinney who is a certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and owner of Well Rested Family, her expert advice for families with new babies at home, who are struggling to make the transition back to a good night’s sleep.
With the help from these tips, we hope you will be on your way to a more restful night – for you and baby!
- Keep a sleep and feeding log. When you are home with a newborn, and sleep deprived yourself, days start to blend together. The log will give you an accurate account of the baby’s day, and you can begin to look for patterns in behavior. Share it with others who are helping to provide care so they can keep the baby on the same schedule.
- At 0-4 months spoil your newborn! Don’t be afraid of creating bad habits during this time. Enjoy your baby. Do what you need to get them to sleep.
- Sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a to do list, ask others who want to help to assist with cleaning, doing dishes or throwing in a load of laundry for you. These are easy to schedule on your InKind Care calendar.
- Ask for help! When you are feeling overwhelmed (which is very likely) understand it’s ok to take a break from the baby for self care. Take a walk, get a coffee, get your nails done. There is no guilt here!
- At four months, you can start making a schedule because at this time huge developmental leaps begin in your baby’s brain to make it possible for them to start learning new skills. Stay flexible because every baby is different, and what worked one week for your baby may need tweaking in the coming weeks.
- Babies thrive on routine and predictability. Going to sleep, waking up and napping at the same time each day helps to keep the baby’s internal clock consistent and will help with quality sleep. During this time your baby will start to know what to expect at certain times of day. The bedtime and naptime routines will cue baby about what’s coming next.
- Typically, scheduled naps don’t come together until your baby is about 6 months old. Try to stick to a basic schedule but don’t stress if the baby is not cooperating, give it some time and watch for those cues.
- Sleepy cues are yawns, tugging at ears or hair, fussiness, lack of interest, and eyes becoming unfocused. Wake windows are the time between the wake in the morning, each nap, and bedtime. They will expand as a baby gets older but generally a 5-6 month old baby should not go longer than 3 hours between sleeps.
- At around 5-6 months, it’s important to begin to cut the feed to sleep association. This will help when the baby is older and does not need to eat in the middle of the night.
- Putting baby down awake will help them learn to put themselves to sleep, and more importantly, back to sleep in the middle of the night without help from you. Start around 5-6 months 1x a day and increase from there.
Most importantly, don’t worry if it’s not clicking for your child right away. There are many developments happening in your baby’s mind. There are experts to help if things seem overwhelming. Never be afraid to ask for support.
About the Expert: Meredith Kinney is the mother of two boys and lives in Hainesport, NJ. Meredith discovered the Gentle Sleep Coaching Program through a friend and thought it was a great way to help fellow moms, and stay connected to her community. The Gentle Sleep Coach Program, developed by Kim West LCSW-C, is the first and most extensive professional sleep coach training and certification program available. The program involves over 80 hours of training with a facultypanel that includes 2 medical doctors, a psychologist, an attorney, lactation counselor, postpartum doulas and a family therapist.
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