We don't encourage any type of sleep coaching until a baby is at least 5 months old. There are however some excellent foundations that can be established with your newborn from day one to enable them to enjoy a wonderful start to their important sleep development and journey.
We must preface this that our encouragement is always for parents to enjoy their newborns and not worry about this notion of 'bad habits'. Newborns need and want lots of touch, attention, nurturing and support. While many new parents will stress about sleep, we really urge you not to worry about a schedule for newborns (see our other valuable posts about this) and just focus on these foundations.
Our Newborn Foundations program is based on these building blocks so if you do want more support we are then able to work closely with you for 30 days to provide nurturing support and great sleep education.
Foundation 1: Sometimes provide your baby with opportunities to fall asleep without props.
An ideal opportunity is the first nap of the day as this tends to be a time newborns are more sleepy and able to fall asleep more easily. Sleep is developmental so this is just about giving perhaps one opportunity a day and in their own bed.
Foundation 2: Get full feeds by using Eat > Play > Sleep pattern.
This also enables a separation of feeding and sleep so that our babies are able to find sleep without feeding to sleep. Important to note however that as we always say, if people choose to feed to sleep then go for it. We support people finding what makes them happy as families and going for what works best for them. What we find is that babies that have alternative internal strategies to find their own way to sleep tend to find deeper and longer sleep and create some wonderful sleep skills.
Foundation 3: Let go of the belief you need to follow a daily schedule
There is a difference between a schedule and a routine. Certainly we encourage routine but having this idea of each day having set times for what event will happen at what time creates such a challenging landscape that can really set parents up to feel like failures. It’s an unfair expectation on babies too. It’s completely normal for each day and each night to be completely different with newborns.
Foundation 4: Awake Times
We are always harping on about this it’s even more more important for newborns as their capacity to deal with over tiredness is limited and can create major challenges with them finding sleep.
Birth to 10 weeks = 45 – 60 mins awake time 10 weeks to 3.5 months = 1.5 hours awake time
3.5 to 5 months = 2 hours awake time
Foundation 5: 12 Hour Day/Night blocks
You select what works for your family but often newborns bedtime is a bit later so perhaps you might be looking at something like 8pm-8am as the night block. The difference between Day and Night is that Day feeds are in the bright light with engagement and followed by ‘play/activity’ and an appropriate awake time before going back to sleep. Night means feeds are in low light, quiet without engagement and baby then goes back to bed after the feed.
Foundation 6: Consistent bedtime routine
A routine can be established from the start and remember this is a routine not a schedule. This is a series of events that occur in the same order and in the same way before each day nap and before bedtime in the evening. A routine provides powerful sleep cues and associations for your baby.
Foundation 7: Avoid Over Stimulation
Newborns can become over stimulated very quickly. Everything is new, loud, bright and fast for them. It’s great to slow things down, take your time, don’t feel you have to pack lots in each day and take the time where you can to get to know your baby. Keep things in their sleep space very simple and dark to avoid ongoing stimulation as they try to sleep.