Editor’s Note: Our friend, Brooke Nalle is a leading Sleep Consultant in the New York City area, helping parents and individuals get much-needed, healthy rest. She’s graciously allowed us to share this article, originally posted on her site, www.sleepyonhudson.com.
I didn’t think about “baby sleep” until I was a few days home from the hospital with my newborn son. He would fall asleep in my arms, I would put him down in the crib, and then I would walk out feeling maternal, accomplished, as well as bruised and battered. He would promptly wake up moments later, and the routine would repeat.
My equally-naive husband would look at me imploring me to tell him what we should do. For the first time in 9 months and change, I didn’t have an answer. You see during pregnancy, I prepared for, well you know, being pregnant, and then next for childbirth, and then in the hospital with a little help, I prepared for feeding my baby. I was not prepared for infant sleep.
Flash forward: I have been a mother for 16 years and have had a thriving sleep consulting practice for 10 years. I am now very well prepared to tell you about how to expect sleep in the first few months with an infant.
Here is what not to expect with a newborn …
- Your baby will give you any sense of predictability. This comes down the road closer to 8-12 weeks. They will sleep deeply in a loud brightly lit room but then will be wide awake in your dark, library quiet, bedroom.
- Your baby will go to bed at 7 pm and sleep until 7 am. Most infants prefer to follow your clock and go to bed on the later side, 10 pm or later. They will eat a few times at night, possibly be awake and gassy, and then crash and go back to bed just when the regular world is getting up. It is a wacky schedule for the first 8 weeks or so.
- Your baby will sleep in his gorgeous nursery. A lot of parents end up using a closer to the bed safe sleep option such as a bassinet. She will eventually get there!
- Quiet sleep — infant sleep is loud. They cry out, snore, snort, cough, burp, and more. As their nasal passages develop and grow, their breathing quiets.
- The cool gadget that worked for your friend might not be the right thing for your infant. You will eventually learn and discover the tips and tricks that work for you and the best soothing moves and products for your baby.
Here is what you can expect with a newborn …
- As bad as it might get, as tired as you might be, it gets better. It changes. Divide and conquer. Have your partner take one shift and you the next. Try to lock in an uninterrupted block of sleep.
- You will do better if you give in and embrace the unpredictability. If your baby decides that he is going to take his 3-hour nap at 2 pm, make the most of it, nap too, watch a show, take a break.
- A true chance to pause your life and get to know your infant. A newborn forces you to take a break and focus on the most primal pieces of life. During this time, you learn how to best work with, to best be with each other. This is crucial because as you cross the 12-week marker — the end of the 4th trimester — you can begin to shape a better schedule, longer naps, and a consistent bedtime. You will be your newborn’s best advocate and most qualified to help him go in the right ‘sleep.’