Have you ever held a sleeping newborn? It's an amazing experience to hold your own little newborn baby while they sleep, it allows you to take the time to study their delicate features, and bond- but you don't want to be doing that in the middle of the night every night while it's been weeks, if not months since you have gotten sleep. Getting rest is essential for new moms, yet it's something that can be so evasive for them. All babies are unique, some are great sleepers naturally, some need a little convincing that sleep should happen, and others seem to avoid sleep all together; never the less, there are a few things that you can do to help your newborn create healthy sleeping habits-
1. Put them in a bassinet or bed next to your own- not only is this recommended for safety reasons (as opposed to bed sharing), but it can help your little learn to sleep independently, while also keeping you close if you are needed.
2. When they wake, don't overly engage them- if it's the middle of the night and your little one wakes up- keep things low key. Don't "chat" with them during that time, keep the lights as low as possible, and get the business of feeding and diaper changing done as quickly as possible. After it's done, place them back in bed. Repeat as needed, but eventually your little one will learn that getting up in the middle of the night is not nearly as engaging as during the day is, and will want to sleep more then wake up.
3. Try a pacifier- if your little one wakes, before you pick them up, try giving them a pacifier and see if that soothes them back to sleep. This can help them learn that night time is for sleeping.
4. Fed them regularly during the day- for most babies, about every three hours is good- but do the best you can to keep them on a regular eating schedule (every 2 hours, 3 hours, etc). If you can do that during the day, they will be more content at night and sleep longer.
5. Try swaddling or not- some babies like to be swaddled others hate it. If your little one isn't sleeping well and they are being swaddled, try dropping the swaddle to see if that helps. If you haven't tried swaddling- give that a try.
6. Keep them warm- you don't want to them to be over heated, but even in the summer, I always try to keep socks on my kids feet. This seems to help them sleep for longer periods of time.
7. Bedtime routine- get a bedtime routine going. Give your little one a bath, read a book- whatever routine you can come up with, do it each night so your little one knows what to expect and understands that this is bedtime.
8. Most importantly, it won't last forever- I know that all moms hear this, but babies grow up so fast! In just 365 days from the time they are born, they will be crawling, working on walking, and beginning to "talk". Another 365 days after that, they will be running, talking in sentences, and growing in their independence. Hang in there, and know that your little one will get this sleep thing, you may not enjoy the sleepless night- but be honored that you get the privilege of walking through those sleepless nights with your little one.