Note: The following list is a recap of the questions and topics we covered during Thursday’s HRP Mama’s sleep workshop. I went into further detail at the workshop, so reach out to schedule time if you need more help tailored expressly for your baby and you.
During the first 8 weeks, don’t stress if naps are on the go or while being held. You just want your baby to nap, get her sleep, so she can eat and digest well, and have a happier day in general.
You can and should begin working on getting your baby to take some naps in his/her crib/bassinet. I suggest trying the first nap of the day.
When working on naps, make sure your infant is already fed, burped, and changed and tightly swaddled. A dark room and white noise are essential. You also want to aim for short window of awake time for a young baby. An hour in some cases might be all that she can handle. As she gets closer to 3 months, you can usually stretch to napping every 90 minutes of awake time.
Sometimes it is hard to know if your baby is sleepy or fussy. If the intervals between feedings are usually 2.5 hours or so, and your baby is fussy, try a nap in the carrier or stroller first. Trust me, she will make it clear that she is hungry not tired after 10-15 minutes. If she is sleepy, she will get a booster nap, and wake ready to eat at her regular interval.
Yes, I believe in waking babies to eat during the day (but also am open to extending intervals between feedings if that is what your baby is telling you). If she is sleeping 4 hour past a feeding, then you need to get her up to eat.
If your baby likes to nurse to sleep but wakes every time you transfer her to the bassinet, then try this: nurse and a few minutes before she finishes her feeding, take her off the breast, burp her, change her, swaddle her snuggly and then put her back on the breast to finish the last few moments of her feeding. This way she is really ready for sleep and not about to wake needing a change or a burp.
Babies can be natural self-soothers early on or they grow into it. You can give your baby a nudge anytime after 3 months, if he can find his hands, and suck on them. It tends to go even better when he can roll to his side and stay there.
It is also safe to leave your baby in a crib or bassinet to cry, fuss for 5 minutes. You are giving him some light practice to soothe and yourself a few minutes to send that last email or take a quick shower.
As you baby gets older, his naps should start to improve naturally especially if he is on a good feeding schedule and pattern, has practice sleeping in his crib, and has the opportunity to put himself to sleep on his own. If they are still short at a young age, don’t worry. Sleep matures and daytime melatonin production kicks in officially and consistently by 6 months.
At night, if your baby wakes around 3 or 4am has a big feed and then is up off/on for the rest of the night, you can try to dream feed in advance of that feeding to see if you can skip this big wake up and active digestion period. If it doesn’t work, don’t stress. This is a phase that your baby will out grow, and when you sleep train, you can address it too.