Bringing home a newborn can be overwhelming. Whether you are a first time parent or repeat, it’s exhausting. So many emotions combined with a lack of sleep can really take a toll on parents. I often get calls from desperate mothers on how they are ready to do sleep training ASAP. The thing is, your newborn can’t and shouldn’t go through any form of sleep training at such a young age. Those first few months (0-4), your baby does not produce melatonin (a calming hormone that helps control his awake and sleep windows), so they will need assistance in falling asleep and staying asleep.
Sleep is necessary for newborns (and really anyone), as they work on their immune system, growth, and memory. Newborns shouldn’t be awake for more than 1-1.5 hours at a time, as being awake for too long can overstimulate your child. That is why for those first few months while your newborn relies on you for EVERYTHING, I always tell parents do whatever you need to do to get your child sleeping. There is no such thing as creating a “bad habit” at this age. You want to take advantage and rely on all of those sleep crutches to assist your baby in falling asleep and staying asleep.
Dr. Karp’s 5 S’s:
Dr. Harvey Karp, author of Happiest Baby on the Block, developed the “5 S’s” method, which helps your newborn sleep. Try to use one (or all) of these methods in helping your newborn to fall and stay asleep as needed.
3. Side lying
Your newborn will also wake often in the middle of the night. Research suggests that these frequent wake ups are essential for their survival, as they are a signal for a need to be met - for feeds, help in regulating their temperature, and regulating their breathing.
1 month – 3-4x a night
2 months – 2-3x a night
3 months – 1-2x a night
And remember, while these days and nights seem never ending, try to enjoy it all as much as you can because when your child gets older, it is recommended to remove these crutches and teach your child how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) without your assistance.