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Congratulations, new parent! You have now entered one of the most fulfilling and joyous seasons of your adult life…parenthood! As I am sure you have noticed, everything has now changed. Your perspective, schedule, and lifestyle are no longer of the utmost importance as you now have a precious, young new life to be responsible for and make a priority. Since you have brought your miniature bundle of joy home, I am sure there have been many adjustments, and there will be many more to follow as your baby grows and becomes accustomed to life outside of the womb. A newborn baby is the most precious of creatures and their sleep schedules are all different. They are, however, totally adaptable with thorough practice and consistency. Deviations from the routine and sleep schedule make it harder to develop a steady and predictable system that both you and baby will be used to and comfortable with. As long as you establish a concrete routine and it evolves with you, everything will remain peachy and both of you will get the sleep you need and deserve.
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#1: See The Signs That A Newborn Is Tired
When your baby is tired, they obviously will not be able to tell you so verbally. However, when they are getting sleepy, there is many things that they will do as far as body languages and the noises they can produce to clue you in that they are in need of some shuteye! Some of the most apparent indications of a tired baby are yawning, tugging at their own ears and clenching up their fists, and being increasingly fussy. They may also rub their eyes and look away from you with tired eyes and jerky movements of their arms and legs. There is good reason to recognize and act on the signs of a tired baby. When a baby is overtired, research on sleep patterns indicates that it will take them longer to settle down and fall asleep because they get exhausted considerably faster than we do. It will take them a while to become fussy and throw fits out of crankiness, so try the best you can to look for warning signs before it gets to that point so that you can avoid an unnecessary bout of crying and screaming. Notice that baby is tired and do the best you can to get them soundly to sleep as soon and as comfortably as possible.
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#2: Separate Daytime from Nighttime
A critical element in developing a comfortable and effective sleep pattern and schedule for your newborn is making a solid attempt to learn them the difference between day and night very early on. Obviously, we as grown-ups understand that daytime is for being active, engaging in work and play, completing productive activities, and interacting with others. Nighttime is sometimes for play, but predominately for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation to have the ability to recharge and prepare for the next day’s activities and events. During the day when it is light and bright outside and in, engage your baby in as many and as much interactions and playtime as you can, although he will become tired at times. Let there be background noise and opportunities to become energized and fully awake. When night rolls around, he will be tired enough to sleep and sleep long and well. Cut down on the stimulation and turn off or dim the lights so the baby will know loud and clear that it is time to rest, and that more playtime and sunshine will ensue the following day. This helps establish a clear pattern of when is an appropriate time for play, and a good time for sleep will then become even more apparent to your newborn.
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#3: Keep The Separation Between Eating And Sleeping
When a baby is newly born, it is easy for them to create an association between eating and sleeping. When a baby fusses, it often has to do with being tired. A mother’s natural instinct would be to quiet or calm her child with the warm, soothing, satisfying qualities of milk. This usually makes them more tired and they are more apt to sleep after consuming food, as they are calmed down and have the satisfaction of a full belly. When you teach a baby to create the dissociation between eating and sleeping, it will become easier for them to learn how to fall asleep on their own as they mature with the months that age them. This will be a benefit to both you and them, as newborn sleep patterns should be working toward the ultimate goal of your baby successfully sleeping through the night entirely.
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#4: Refrain From Waking To Feed After Two Months
After a baby has reached two months of age, they should be gaining weight at the appropriate and healthy rate. Consulting with your doctor would be a good idea to make sure they are at an ideal weight, but at this point it should no longer be necessary to wake your baby through the night to be fed. Unless your baby is not at a healthy enough weight or has been consistently meeting daytime feedings, you can quit waking your baby for a feed. This will mean that your baby is eating more during the daytime, which is appropriate since that is what the daytime is for. This will also emphasize and create that separation between the different engagements and activities that are appropriate for day and night, respectively. However, just because your child reaches two months doesn’t mean you should just automatically stop feeding them at night. It will most likely take a week or so to wean them off of this expectation of there being a feeding during the night. In a lot of cases, however, if a child is at the appropriate weight and is eating plenty during the day, this should not be too much of a problem. Consulting with your pediatrician before stopping, starting, or implementing anything entirely new or different is the most practical and safest of ideas.
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#5: Practice Patience
The best thing that you can do while attempting to establish a healthy sleep pattern and steady schedule with your newborn baby is to be as patient as possible. If you let your temper get the best of you, it will be too frustrating to create a good pattern. Unnecessary tension will come about and make it more difficult because your moods and baby’s sleep patterns will be all over the place. You should set realistic goals and sensible expectations for both yourself and your baby. You must keep in mind that you are adjusting to being responsible for a new human life, and your newborn is making the drastic acclimation to being exposed to life outside of the womb. Their cocoon of warmth and protection has made a huge transition, so patience is key when you are learning and adapting to them and them to you. If your newborn establishes a pattern and begins to stray from it, you should first try to readapt them. If you cannot seem to get your baby back on track with their sleeping, eating, nap, and rest schedule, there could be something wrong such as illness or a discomfort they are experiencing that you are unaware of. At first, sleep will be sporadic. This is to be expected, and adapting to the unpredictability of the situations and the initial lack of routine is perfectly fine.
As a new parent, there is many adjustments you will make on your own. These will come automatically and instinctually, and a lot of the time your intrinsic feelings will bring out your inner mom and guide you to helping care for you and your baby in the most appropriate manner. Every pair of parents and their child(ren) are different, so not every method will work for every single group. Try the best you can, and if you find a method that works, keep with it and stay consistent. This is a major key to adapting successfully. Assimilating to a new life around and becoming used to the outside world are daunting tasks for mother and child, but nature and natural tendencies have their pull and the routine will be developed if you try your best.
If we missed any beneficial ideas or you have discovered any of your own methods that work like a charm, share them with your fellow new parents in the comments! Together you all can make sleeping patterns for baby a breeze.