The phrase “I slept like a baby” is very misleading. People usually use it to imply that they slept soundly the whole night through. Whoever started this phrase clearly never had babies or was just being the worst sort of tease. When my brother would go camping with scouts, his scout master would say, “I slept like a baby. I was up every two hours crying.” That's much more accurate, because do newborns ever sleep?!
Yes, all newborns do is eat, poop, and sleep, but their sleeping is all over the place. A few hours here, a few hours there, and unfortunately they may be more alert in the nighttime. This is because they have no light differentiation in the womb, and during the day you’re lulling them to sleep with your movement. So, yeah, good luck with that. Just kidding! Here are a four tips to get your baby to adjust to sleeping at night and get in the groove of a schedule.
Daytime Means Daytime
When your baby wakes at a more humane awake time, throw open those curtains and turn on the lights. Let them know the sun has risen and it’s time to stay awake. Don’t talk in whispers and try to help them adjust to daytime noises. This is especially helpful when they do naps because regular noises will be less likely to wake them up.
Nighttime Means Nighttime
There are many different philosophies on sleep training, but the one thing all parents can do is make sure to provide bedtime vibes. When getting them ready for bed, use soft or little light, speak in quieter voices, have a sound machine on etc. This also goes for nighttime feeds and diaper changes. Don’t go flipping on the bright bedroom light and start blasting music. (Why you would do that I don’t know, but don’t do it!)
In addition to creating those bedtime vibes, make a set routine of how your bedtime will go. Maybe you have them drink their bottle, brush their teeth (if they have them), read a book, sing a song, and kiss them goodnight. Maybe some nights you throw a bath in there and a couple books? Create consistency so your baby think, “Oh yeah, I go to sleep after they sing this song.” It works. My dad would sing the same songs to me every night, and now when I sing those songs to my babies I’m out like a light. Create muscle memory with those bedtime vibes. You can also do similar routines with nap time. Eat a snack, read a book, and then zzzz.
Cue Into Baby’s Schedule
Your baby may already be on a schedule without you forcing one on them. If you’re trying to get them to nap at 10 am and 2 pm, but they’re like, “Hey, I’ve been napping on my own in your arms at 11 am and 3 pm for the last couple of weeks. I’m going to stick with that,” just stick with that. For sure try and get them to sleep in their own bed and not your arms for every nap, but notice if there are times of day that they are just naturally sleeping and eating, and don’t try and switch it around too much. If you have to change it around to go with the flow of life, do it. But don’t force a new schedule when your babe already has one. There is much less fighting when you include them in the decision making.
Newborns do not sleep like adults, and they are not built to sleep like adults. So the next time someone asks you if they’re sleeping through the night yet, don’t feel shame that they aren’t. Honestly though, I don’t even sleep through the night when I don’t have a newborn. Who else wakes up at least once to go pee? In other words, don’t put unrealistic pressure on yourself, and be happy when you all are getting decent amounts of rest here and there. It will get better. I promise!
For more newborn tips go to babycubby.com.