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  • Learning Day and Night
    Assuming you will be coming home from the hospital within 2–4 days of giving birth, you will notice that your little dreamer has his days and nights all mixed up. It is very normal for your baby to not fall asleep for the night until 1 or 2 a.m. And to make matters even worse, those hours before your baby finally conks out for the night are usually filled with a fussing, crying, acting hungry but won't eat, acting tired but won't sleep, colicky baby. In the morning, your baby will most likely sleep in, and sleep great all. day. long. And you will probably be too exhausted to care. Babies do this because they have their days and nights mixed up. Most babies figure out the difference between night and day by six weeks. Oftentimes, babies need a little extra help figuring this out, and I am sure no one would complain if their baby figured this out a little sooner. Here are my top tips for helping a baby learn and adjust to the true night and day as soon as possible! One of the best ways to help anyone adjust to night and day is with light and darkness. Keep it dark during the night [KF1] and light during the day. Once your baby is adjusted to his days and nights, I suggest using blackout curtains or something similar to keep his room dark during nap times. Darkness helps to increase melatonin and melatonin helps us sleep. You may notice your baby taking some long naps during the day. This is happening because this is your baby's nighttime sleep. The more we can disrupt the daytime sleep into regular naps, the sooner the longest stretch of sleep will occur at night. Pick a consistent time to start your day (i.e., 8 a.m.) and wake your baby at this time every morning. ​ Do not allow any nap to exceed 2 hours. If your baby has slept for 2 hours, wake him up, feed him, and engage him for 45–60 minutes, and then put him back to bed. As your baby figures out his nights and days, you can expect one longer stretch of 4–6 hours of sleep at night. Take note that the bedtime will gradually move earlier, and can move as early as 5 p.m.
  • Wake Periods
    Wake periods are the timed periods between when your baby wakes from one sleep cycle until they fall asleep for the next sleep cycle. Newborns can have between 5–7 wake periods during a 24-hour period. Which means newborns are often taking 4–6 naps per day. Here are some guidelines for wake periods with your newborns: The shortest wake period is usually the first one of the day, and the longest one/s fall/s at the end of the day. Wake periods for a newborn are generally around 60 minutes, but can vary from 30–90 minutes. These times are to give you a general idea of what to expect. Until 4–5 months of age, your baby is probably taking 4–5 naps during the day that may range in length from 30–90 minutes. This is completely normal. We time newborn wake periods by the sleepy cues the baby gives us instead of by the clock. The above times listed are to give you an idea of when your baby will need to sleep again. We look for the signs that our baby is ready to sleep and then we help him sleep. See Sleepy Cues below. If the wake period is one hour, that means we have one hour to get our baby asleep from when he woke up, not one hour until we start getting him ready to sleep.
  • Sleepy Cues
    Your newborn baby will tell you when he is ready to sleep. If you can catch his cues and respond quickly, you can avoid an overtired baby who has trouble soothing to sleep, wakes sooner, and cries more. Following cues for sleep are more important than following a specific wake period length. Sleep Cues Include: Slower movements Decreased activity Quieter or less vocal Weaker or slower sucking Calmer Disinterested in surroundings Less focused eyes Eyelids drooping Yawning The following signs are cues that you are entering the overtired zone and you need to get baby to bed pronto! ​ Rubbing his eyes Irritable, cranky, or fussing
  • Eat, Play, Sleep Schedule"
    An eat, play, sleep schedule is a great way to help your baby prevent or break a sucking/feeding and sleeping association. A sleep association is when your baby needs a certain condition to fall asleep and stay asleep. You can imagine that having a baby who always needs to be sucking and eating to fall and stay asleep would make it hard to get the rest you need. I understand the fear that if your baby is hungry when he goes to sleep he will not sleep as long. We seem to think that if we can feed our babies right before sleeping that they will sleep longer. Unfortunately, babies tend to respond exactly opposite. By feeding them to sleep, they will usually take shorter naps and wake more frequently at night. ​ When your baby wakes up, whether in the morning or from a nap, feed them first thing. If you are waking your baby up from a long nap and they are still drowsy, try to massage them (hands, feet, face, legs, etc.) to help them stay awake while you feed them. You will feed your baby before he goes to bed for the night. Do your best to nurse/feed at the beginning of the bedtime routine and then soothe your baby to sleep. Remember that since wake periods are around an hour, and naps will be no longer than 2 hours, you will be feeding your baby at least every 3.5 hours, but probably closer to 2 or 2.5 hours.
  • Morning Wake Up
    The morning wakeup should be the first part of your baby's schedule to start to be consistent. Often, when babies are still learning the difference between night and day, they will sleep late into the morning. I would encourage you to pick a wakeup time and wake your baby every day at this time. This will help him get on a consistent schedule sooner and help him learn the difference between morning and night faster. An ideal wakeup time for babies is between 6–8 a.m. Remember that the first wake period is often the shortest. You may wake your baby at 7 a.m. and then have him back to sleep by 7:40 a.m.
  • Newborn Naps
    Newborn nap schedules are pretty unpredictable until around 5 months. Below you will learn what is normal and how to help your baby lengthen out naps as soon as possible. Newborn naps are usually 30–90 minutes. However, any time a nap is 2 hours the baby should be woken up to avoid getting too much daytime sleep, which will disrupt nighttime sleep. Newborns should be taking 4–5, and possible even 6 naps a day. Starting an eat, play, sleep schedule will help lengthen out naps.
  • Soothing a Newborn
    Swaddle: Most babies prefer to be swaddled until around 4 months. There are a lot of different swaddles out there and any of them will work. Some babies will fight the swaddle but actually end up sleeping longer when swaddled. I encourage you to keep swaddling your baby. If you feel that your baby is one of the 1% who really doesn't like to be swaddled, I would still suggest the Zipadee Zip, or Merlin SleepSuit, or another sleep item that helps your baby feel secure. Keep in mind that because newborns like to be secure they will often sleep better in items that cradle them as opposed to laying flat in a crib. Every baby is different, but many of my clients report that items like the dockatot or rock 'n play have facilitated better sleep for their babies. Motion: Motion is a great way to help your baby soothe to sleep. Ideally, once your baby has fallen asleep with motion, the motion would stop while they are sleeping. Some babies prefer motion while they sleep as well. Swinging Rocking Rock ‘n play Bouncing on an exercise ball Walking, swaying, etc. Riding in the car White Noise: You can imagine that living in the womb was not the quietest environment. Even though babies sleep in a deep sleep state, white noise can help soothe them to sleep and keep them asleep longer. Choose white noise that is fairly loud, continuous, and boring. I like this one because it has a natural fan sound in it. Binky: Sucking can be a great way to soothe a baby. Don't be afraid to use the binky to help your baby sleep as a newborn. A newborn needs to be soothed, and the binky is a great tool for a newborn. Eventually the binky can hinder sleep, but in the beginning, it can really help! Nursing: Some babies love to be soothed to sleep by nursing. While this is not my preferred method, it is still an option for a newborn! Instead of thinking of this nursing session as a feeding session, it is considered soothing nursing. Once your baby gets older, he will be more flexible in the ways he can be soothed. I do not encourage giving bottles to soothe your baby to sleep. If you have to feed your baby a bottle when he wakes up and you are finding that he needs (aka nothing else is working and he is very upset) another bottle to soothe to sleep, he may be staying awake too long. Try to soothe him to sleep much earlier so that he doesn't get so upset and need that bottle.
  • Nighttime Feedings
    It is normal for newborn babies to need to eat frequently (every 2–3 hours) when they first arrive here. By 6 weeks, your baby should be able to sleep 4–6 hours without waking. The length at night between feedings will gradually increase. Talk to your pediatrician to decide if you need to wake your baby or if you can let him sleep at night. Once you have the green light to stop waking your baby to feed at night, I recommended only feeding 3 times a night. Usually the longest sleep period happens at the beginning of the night. Usually between 3–5 months, babies will go from three to two feedings, and some babies will only need one!
  • Nighttime Wakings
    If your baby wakes at night, go to him and soothe him. Newborns do not have the ability to self-soothe yet and need your help soothing back to sleep. After discussing how often to feed your baby at night with your pediatrician, you are welcome to follow his guidelines, and you do not need to feed your baby every time he wakes.
  • Be Flexible
    Remember that newborn babies are unpredictable. Their needs may change from day to day, as well as their schedule. There may be days (usually toward the afternoon and evening) where your baby is very fussy, takes short naps, and acts like he wants to eat frequently. Go with the flow and give your baby what he needs. Remember that babies will outgrow this fussy period. Usually fussiness peaks between 6–8 weeks. At the same time, many babies get so fussy at the end of the day because they are overtired and need to sleep. Make sure your wake periods are an appropriate length, and consider putting your baby to bed even earlier. Some babies this young can easily go to bed as early as 5 p.m. and sleep until 7 a.m. Above all be flexible with your newborn and his needs. Remember there is no such thing as a 'bad habit' for a newborn. Anything you do to soothe your newborn now, can be unlearned later, if needed.
  • Multiple Newborns
    One newborn is hard, and more than one is a zoo. As soon as you can get both babies eating and sleeping at the same time, your life will be that much easier. However, please remember that it does take some time for any baby to be on a consistent nap schedule (5–6 months, actually), and getting two babies on the same schedule can be a bit crazy in the beginning. Here are some pointers to get you headed in the right direction with your newborns. I exclusively use the term twins, but know that the same principles apply if you have twins, triplets, quadruplets, or more! When discussing baby sleep milestones, we always refer to the adjusted age. The adjusted age is calculated from the due date, or when the baby would have been 40 weeks. Even though 38 weeks is considered full term for twins, we still calculate the adjusted age at 40 weeks. The first step to helping your babies synchronize their schedules is to feed them at the same time. If you feed one, feed the other one. You can do this simultaneously or one right after the other. Feed them during the day and night at the same time. The second step is to help them sleep at the same times and be awake at the same times. The best way to begin this is to start in the morning. Once one baby wakes up, wake the other baby within 15 minutes. Feed them both, play with them both, and then soothe them to sleep at the same time. This also means that if one baby wakes after only a short nap you will need to wake the other baby within 15 minutes if you are unable to soothe the first baby back to sleep within 15 minutes. When you are soothing your babies to sleep, one baby may fall asleep first, and you will focus on soothing the other baby to sleep. Do not worry as much about getting them to fall asleep within 15 minutes of each other as you are about waking them up within 15 minutes of each other. If they wake up at the same time they will naturally need to sleep around the same time as their schedules synchronize up. With twins, you may find that you just don’t have enough hands! Don’t be afraid to use lots of baby products to help soothe your babies. Swings, binkies, Rock ‘n’ Plays, etc. are all designed to help newborns sleep! Use them! Once your babies are 16 weeks (adjusted) we can work to eliminate sleep aids and get them sleeping great on their own. The goal for the first 16 weeks is to survive, and your baby may need a lot of help sleeping, and that is okay. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes baby items aren’t enough and you will need to reach out to family members, close friends, or even the neighbor you barely know to get through those first few months. At one point, I was a mom of three children, all two years old and under. There is no way I could have done it without help! My eyes tear up just thinking about all the wonderful earthly angels who helped me. I had neighborhood grandmas over to hold two sleeping babies, I had family and friends stock my freezer with freezer meals, I had friends and family taking my oldest on play dates and outings, I was given the gift of cleaning, my mother came every single Wednesday to help me do laundry, prep meals, and clean, my mother-in-law stayed for 5 weeks when the twins first arrived. I had a plethora of help and it was still hard. The only thing I wish I would have had was myself as a sleep consultant! People love twins, let them be involved, let them hold your babies so you can go take a nap or a shower or eat a hot meal! You, nor they, will regret it.
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