Top 5 Newborn Survival Tips

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There's nothing like the fresh beauty of a brand new baby – until the sleep deprivation hits -  and then there's nothing like a three-hour chunk of sleep! The newborn stage can be legit insanity. I myself had several nights where I was so sleep deprived, I had nightmares that people were going to take my newborn baby away because I was going crazy! Even when I woke up, my husband had a hard time convincing me it wasn't true- I was practically delirious. And it wasn't any easier with the second, since not only was she also a "bad sleeper", but I also had a 1.5 year old to run after all day long.

So, trust me when I say, I feel your pain.  If you feel like you're about to unravel, I'm here to help. From my own experience and my training as a certified baby sleep consultant, here are my

Top Five Newborn Survival Tips:

1. Swaddle!

I know you think your baby hates it because she fights it and squirms and gets out of it, but trust me when I say that 99.5% of all newborn babies will settle more easily and sleep longer with a good swaddle. Make sure to do it when they are calm, not already fussy, and make it nice and tight around their arms so that they can't get out (but not too tight around the chest that it restricts their breathing- obviously- and not around the hips). Timing and technique really do make the difference! Keep trying to find the swaddle that works for you. (I absolutely love this weighted one from Nested Bean. Use this link to get free shipping in the USA.) Once they are swaddled well, then add the other soothing techniques you know, like rocking, shushing, bouncing, etc.

No, this is not actually how you should swaddle! :)

No, this is not actually how you should swaddle! :)


2. Follow Wake Times.

A wake time is the time between when a baby wakes up and when they need to go back to sleep again. This time is very short in the newborn stage – only a maximum of 60 minutes in the first month and working its way up to 80 minutes by the end of the second month. You can add about 5 minutes to their wake-time each week and stay on track. Most parents miss this window and babe gets overtired, meaning he/she will have stress hormones raging through his/her body, making it very difficult to get them back to sleep again. Be vigilant about not keeping babe up too long, and start your nap routine/settling to sleep 15 minutes BEFORE the end of the awake time. 

3. Focus on Full Feeds.

A problem we often see is that a newborn starts taking "snack" feeds and falling asleep while eating, instead of nursing long enough on both sides (or finishing a bottle). Once breast-feeding is well-established in the first few weeks, aim to space feeds out 2 1/2 to 3 hours so that babe can get a nice full feed in, and then take a good long nap. Also, nurse upon waking, instead of right before naptime. This will help you avoid the Dreaded Overtired Cycle, which is when baby is too tired to eat well and then too hungry to sleep well. This is hard to fix and much easier to prevent. (But don't worry if you're in this cycle already- we can fix it! Call me for help!)

4. Make Dad King Soother.

My real-life husband was the KING of bouncing and soothing our first love.

My real-life husband was the KING of bouncing and soothing our first love.

Mom, trust me when I say you CANNOT do this alone! Give Dad (or other significant person) your full confidence and let him figure out the best ways to soothe and calm your baby. As soon as he takes over, go take care of yourself (not the house, work, or others) right away. Many dads turn out to be total baby whisperers- they just needed their chance to shine! ☀️

With my newborn clients, I focus on teaching moms AND dads my best soothing techniques so that dad can feel confident and capable. It often goes even better when dad is involved, especially with breastfed babies, because can't smell mom's milk.

5. Reach Out for Help.

If only all newborns slept like this all the time!

If only all newborns slept like this all the time!

Whether it's lactation support, friends cooking meals, a babysitter or a house cleaner, the newborn phase is not a time to skimp on your budget or let your pride keep you from asking for help wherever you can. Adjusting to this new baby life you're now responsible for is hard enough without having to worry about your meals, housework, employment, and more, all on 4 fragmented hours of sleep. #Dontmomalone 

Hang in there, Mamma! You're doing an amazing thing keeping this tiny human alive 24-7. Give yourself lots of grace, and don't be afraid to contact us for help! Click here to book your free consultation.

****Special offer for my newborn parent readers: Email me directly about your newborn's sleep and I'll send you my 2 best newborn sleep handouts, "Top 5 Newborn Sleep Myths" AND "Tired Signs and Wake-Times," absolutely free! *******


Lindsey McGonegal