New Mama

How to Help Your Baby Develop Good Sleep Habits

At best, most newborns don’t sleep more than two to three hours at a time, day or night. A newborn’s nutritional needs and developmental maturity won’t be ready for a full five to seven hour stretch for a while. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start helping your baby develop good sleep habits. By creating a healthy, safe sleep environment and planting the seeds of good sleep habits, you’ll plant roots for a lifetime of high-quality sleep.

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A Safe Sleep Environment

Even if you set up the nursery long before your baby arrived, it’s a good idea to give everything a last check to make sure all safety measures are in place. A baby-safe sleep environment include:

  • A crib, bassinet, or playpen that meets all current safety guidelines including no head or footboard with decorative cutouts and slats that are no more than 1 ⅜ inches apart.

  • A location that’s away from windows or cords that could be reached by your baby.

  • No toys, blankets, and crib bumpers as they pose a suffocation hazard. Extra layers, as well as sleep sacks or sleep blankets, should provide the warmth your baby needs.

  • A mattress with a snug fit that’s low enough that your baby cannot crawl or fall out of the crib. You’ll have to keep an eye on it and lower the mattress as he grows.

While baby monitors aren't a necessity, they do offer peace of mind and give you some extra freedom while your baby sleeps. Be sure the cord is kept well away from the crib.

The Start of Healthy Sleep Habits

Unfortunately, babies don’t normally have a regular sleep cycle until they are about six months old. However, healthy sleep habits can begin even before your baby is able to sleep through the night. Try to:

  • Keep nighttime feedings and diaper changes quiet and dark. Nighttime feedings should be all business so that your baby is wakened as little as possible.

  • Develop a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines can start as soon as your baby comes home from the hospital. As your baby’s nervous system develops, a regular routine will help trigger the release of sleep hormones. Some classic bedtime activities include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or rocking in a rocking chair.

  • Play and stimulate your baby’s senses during the day. As your baby stays awake longer during the day, he’ll start to sleep for longer stretches at night. It also helps to start establishing those developing circadian rhythms, the natural cycles the body uses to time the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Lay your baby down when he’s drowsy, not asleep. Your baby will learn how to self-soothe as he gets used to falling asleep on his own. This can also cut down on nighttime waking as he’ll learn to put himself back to sleep as he gets older.

  • Don’t jump to soothe. Some babies fuss a little before bed to let out some pent-up tension. Let your baby fuss for a few minutes before going in to soothe him. If he continues to fuss, make sure to keep the room dark and quiet so as not to overstimulate your baby when you soothe him.

Stacey L. Nash is a Seattle area writer for Tuck.com whose insomnia led her to research all aspects of sleep. With a degree in communications from the University of Puget Sound, she helps put sleep into the forefront of the health and wellness conversation. When not researching and writing about sleep, she spends time with her husband and four children on their heavily-wooded, twelve-acre piece of heaven.

Five New Year’s Resolutions for New Moms

New Years Resolutions 2016

As 2016 quickly approaches, you may be considering what your resolutions are for the coming year. If you’ve become a mom for the first time this year, your life has probably changed a good deal along with your priorities. Here are a few ideas for New Year’s Resolutions that can apply to most new moms.

1) Get Connected: Despite the many joys of being a new mom, sometimes it can be somewhat isolating. Those first few months with a new baby you will likely find yourself at home a fair amount of the time catering to the ever present needs of your precious little one. Many moms even find themselves struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety which is not uncommon as your hormones adjust after pregnancy. Getting connected to other new moms in your community can be a lifesaver during this time period. Try attending a breastfeeding support group or checking out websites like Meetup.com for local mommy groups in your area. Connecting with other moms will not only get you out of the house but will give you a support network as you learn the ropes of being a new parent.

2) Put down your phone: As a society, we have become obsessed with our smart phones. From Facebook and Instagram, to email, shopping and games, there isn’t anything you can’t do on your iPhone. If you often find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed while playing with your baby, or checking your email at stoplights, it may be time to begin practicing some self-discipline with your electronics. Although your little one may be too young to realize they don’t have your full attention, these are moments you won’t be able to get back someday while the internet will always be there to entertain you.

3) Prioritize self-care: Often one of the first things to go when you become a mom is remembering to take time out to care for yourself. Although having a baby is an around the clock job, it’s important to work together with your partner so that you can make time to take care of your own needs. Whether it’s taking a bubble bath or nap, sneaking out for a yoga class, going to the dentist or meeting a friend for lunch, your physical and emotional wellbeing should still be a priority when you have a baby.

4) Nurture your marriage: Finding time for your partner when you have a new baby can be challenging. You’re both exhausted from the sleep deprivation and you are trying to manage all of life’s responsibilities in addition to caring for your new babe. Making time for one another can often feel like the last thing you have time to add to your plate. It doesn’t have to be a date night to count towards this resolution. Think of little ways you can show each other you care in your everyday life. Leave a love note unexpectedly, plan an in-home date night, pick up a favorite treat to share after baby goes to bed, or offer simple words of affirmation to let your husband know you love him. Happy parents are the foundation for a happy family.

5) Get organized: Life can sometimes feel a little out of control after adding a new baby to the mix. Responsibilities and chores you were once always on top of may be piling up around you now despite your best efforts. Give yourself some grace to let things slide after a new baby but if it’s beginning to add stress to your life, it might be time to get organized. Whether it’s more efficiently delegating chores in your household, putting together a family budget spreadsheet or setting aside specific times each week to take care of necessary tasks, being more organized can help you and your family feel calmer amidst an eventful time of life. 

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Whatever your New Year’s resolutions are this year, be sure to acknowledge all the remarkable things you’ve done in the past year. If you’ve become a mom for the first time, take a minute to realize the amazing journey your body has undergone through pregnancy and childbirth. Recognize the truly selfless nature of motherhood as you give of yourself every day and night to care for and nourish your baby. So as you take out a pen and paper (or your iPhone) to jot down those goals for the coming year, remember to make your own well-being a priority as well. Your family will function at its best when mom is happy and healthy. For all of your questions about pregnancy, natural birth or caring for a new baby, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and a tour of our Birth Center.