By Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns
Newborns need up to eighteen hours of sleep each day, and new babies love to sleep! So why then do so many parents struggle with their new baby’s sleep? Here are the top three things that can disrupt your baby’s natural sleep patterns, thus creating unnecessary stress for you during those irreplaceable early months of life. Avoid these common mistakes and protect your new baby’s sleep–and yours.
1. Mistaking sleep noises for waking up
New parents are very observant and responsive to their babies. They respond quickly to any sign of waking up and scoop the baby up for a diaper change, cuddle, and feeding, sometimes going through this routine every hour throughout the night. The hidden problem here is that newborns are noisy sleepers! They grunt, coo, squeak and moan in their sleep. So, therefore, many times parents quickly respond with a diaper change and feeding, when their baby was sound asleep and is jarred awake by all the hubbub and activity!
The solution: Listen carefully when your baby makes noises during sleep. If Baby really is waking up and hungry—feed your newborn, of course. However, if these are sleeping noises—let your baby sleep!
2. Missing the signs of tiredness
A newborn’s sleep needs are powerfully driven by instinct. When your infant is tired, he wants to sleep–but can only fall asleep if the conditions are right. If not, your baby will be unhappy; he’ll shut down the outside world by crying until he finally falls asleep.
The solution: Study your newborn to learn the ways he signals tiredness. Some of these cues are expected, such as yawning and fussing. Others are more subtle, such as losing interest in people and toys, or prolonged eye blinks. Once you learn your baby’s signals you can put him to sleep as soon as you see them. Then your newborn will fall asleep easier and sleep blissfully.
3. Listening to bad advice on a new baby’s sleep
When you have a new baby everyone you know becomes an advisor. People will impart their opinions and advice, whether you want it or not. The most frustrating aspect of this is that much of the advice is wrong, outdated and sometimes even dangerous.
The solution: Read, read, read! Just as you learn about any other new topic in your life, you should study hard as you embark on the monumental task of raising a human being. Why leave this critically important job to chance? The more you know about a new baby’s sleep, the more you will be able to discount the bad advice thrown your way, and the more confident and relaxed you will be in your new role as a parent.
— Elizabeth Pantley is a mother of four, grandmother, and author of the bestselling book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Newborns plus 8 other books in the No-Cry Solution Series, which helps Moms and Dads through all key stages of parenting.