Routines That Build Consistency
Newborns & Consistency
Newborns go through a series of growth spurts, leaps, and milestones during the early days and weeks of life. Anticipating the baby’s next move is almost like a Jedi mind trick. Babies love to do 3 things- eat, sleep, poop…that’s it! Once feedings are down to a science with amount, method, and frequencies, the poop will come. Which leaves the sleep to figure out. When babies feel safe and secure, they will rest. When babies are overstimulated, tired, overfed, underfed, or gassy…they will have difficulty settling down. It’s part of our role as caretakers to provide a safe space for peaceful sleep and create routines that build consistency in sleeping and thriving.
Creating Bedtime Routines & Consistency
Creating healthy bedtime routines has benefits beyond the baby. Wholesome bedtime routines, create serenity in the home that promotes peace and rest for the entire family. Routines are wonderful for your older newborns of 6 weeks and older. Before the 6-week milestone, keep notice of the baby’s natural patterns, because they are there! This will be helpful when beginning to start a more consistent routine in the everyday. When thinking about a routine, know that at a minimum it will take 3 days to completely implement and begin to see the positive results from your efforts. These days may feel like an eternity, and then BOOM! Success. So how do we do it?
- Make sure the baby is well-fed and has had the majority of their feeds in those daytime hours. An evening feed or two will be expected.
- Decide on a “light switch” that lets the baby know that it is time for their long slumber.
- Keep the environment ready for sleep. Have white noise going, have the room dimly lit, have the temperature set, and keep voices low and interactions to a minimum.
- Give the baby a nice “top off” feed. This most likely won’t be a full feeding session, but instead baby’s “warm glass of milk” before bed.
- Swaddle (if the baby is under the age of 3 months and/or not rolling)
- Place the baby in your desired sleeping space.
- Give the baby time to get acclimated to their sleeping space. Pat, rub, rock, and resist the urge to pick the baby up unless the baby needs/wants you.
- As the baby dozes off,
- It may take 20-30 minutes the first day or two for the baby to fall asleep as a new routine is being put in place. As days 3-5 come you may notice that the time gets shorter and shorter until the whole process from start to sleep is completed within minutes.
Recognizing Sleep Patterns and Sleep Cues
A sleepy baby will give ample time and cues that they are ready for their siesta. In building consistency with routines, we as parents tend to miss these cues, and then have an overstimulated, overtired baby. Sleep patterns in a newborn are frequent and a mix of short and long naps. In total, 16-20 hours a day of sleep is expected in a newborn 0-3 months old. Pay attention to the times of the day that the baby is taking their long naps and their cat naps. As the baby ages, the cat naps fall off, and the long nap becomes longer.
Overnight, you will see that the 2-3 hour stretches will become 5-6 hours, then 6+ hours. “Sleeping through the night” for a baby under 6 weeks old is 3-4 hours. For babies 6 weeks+, “sleeping through the night” is roughly 6 hours and more. Age, development, feedings, and environment all play a part in the longevity of sleeping.
Sleeping cues are sure-fire ways to know that your baby is desiring sleep are:
- Long gazes, staring at anything or nothing
- Long blinks
- Glassy glossy eyes
- Redness around the brows and eyes
- Rubbing of the eyes
- Beginning to be verbal (fussiness, but not crying)
(Crying is a sign that the baby is now overtired. At this point, your baby will need assistance to calm and regulate their body)
Sleep begets sleep, and routines that happen in the day can flow into the overnight in a seamless and healthy way. Patience and consistency are important when beginning any new routine. Be willing to assess and navigate any shifts and changes as life occurs. Illnesses, visitations, vacations, appointments, etc may divert the routine, but shouldn’t be so impactful that it throws everything out the window. Let us assist you in setting up routines that build consistency in sleep!