Newborn Sleep – Laying the foundation for a good sleeper

Listen as I discuss with the sleeping specialists of Parenting Practice Co how to lay the foundation for a good sleeper. We will discuss things that you can start from early weeks that will translate to good sleep hygiene.

Episode Transcript:

Hi, welcome back to first breaths to first steps today, our podcast, we are blessed to have Paige Le Gault and Lindsay Burchfield from parenting practice co. They are sleep specialists, and we really thought we would put out some information about newborn sleep. I know that , that newborn time that people are just extremely tired.

They are overwhelmed. There’s a lot going on. I thought that I would take the portion of talking about newborn development and then Lindsay and Paige are going to talk a little bit about the five tips that they recommend for newborn sleep. The things that we should structure that environment upon and just good tips and tricks.

Welcome you guys. I appreciate you joining me today. Thank you for having us. Yes. And just for listeners, these ladies have a great routine that they have set up, it’s called the farm. So you should look it up parenting practice co deals with not only sleep issues, but also behavioral modification in children as well.

But really today, we’re going to focus on that sleep part and focus on. Specifically the newborn sleep period. Sleep develops rapidly during the first few years of life. It’s a highly dynamic process, always changing. At birth infants, really lack that established circadian rhythm. So they tend to sleep across multiple intervals throughout the day and night. And that’s why parents tend to be kind of tired. Sleeping spurts of two to three hours and then up for a bit. And then again, and so it can be a little bit disruptive. There’s studies out there that will look at infant sleep and cognition and note that there was a positive association between sleep memory, language, executive function, and overall development in infants. And so it’s important that we get good sleep and that we start our sleep process with a routine, with a game plan, things that parents can do.

There’s also been additional studies that support the positive role of infant sleep and physical growth as well. So looking at weight, height, head circumference, and all of those parameters that we’re checking at those well visits.

About 10 to 12 weeks of age, typically see the first signs of a circadian rhythm, beginning to develop and marked increase with the ease of sleep. Versus the very initial first few days. I would like Paige and Lindsay to comment on what their tips are. And we’ll jump in and out in this kind of rapid fire question answer sort of thing. As far as answering certain questions about sleep from the onset.

What do you guys feel like are your five tips that you would give a new parent, a newborn parent, anyone who has questions about initially? How do we get and how do we organize sleep?

Yeah. Thanks again, Bev, for having us, I think both Paige and I love this topic because we truly believe. That sleep is a priority for parents. It should be one of those top priorities that going into parenthood, you’re really focusing your time and energy on. And because of that, we have, as you mentioned, developed what we call the sleep farm, which is a 12 week plan for parents to kind of walk them through that fourth trimester. So that their children kind of learn the skill of sleep from very early on.

We’re excited to talk about this topic and just wanted to make. How thankful we are for you to have us here, because we truly believe in the priority of sleep. But when it comes to our tips and tricks regarding newborn sleep, I think the first thing that I always like to talk about is over tiredness and making sure that we are watching awake windows for our newborns. Over tiredness in newborns is really something that if you let it get out of control, can impact your experience with your newborn and your newborn in a very negative fashion. Over tiredness is a very hard thing to manage in that newborn phase. It leads to. Fussiness and crying. A lot of times it can lead to hours and hours of them not sleeping, potentially struggling with feeding. You want to be on top of over tiredness and these first few months of life. And the best way to do that is through watching what we call awake windows. So if you’re not familiar with this, it’s essentially the amount of time that. Child or a baby can be awake and tolerate being awake before, needing to go back to sleep again.

And in the first, really six weeks of life, that particular awake window is only 40 to 45 minutes in length. A lot of parents don’t know that it’s that small, right. Or that short. And in those early weeks, it can be hard to stay on top of. If you are breastfeeding, for example, you might be breastfeeding for 20, 30 minutes and all of a sudden you’re into a feed and then you’re back to sleep. But it really is just so critical that we’re making sure we’re watching those times getting those babies back down to sleep because we’re able to essentially be able to work that sleep pressure off. So that child is not getting tired and kind of being afflicted by all the. Kind of symptomatic situations that come from, from over tiredness in the newborn stage.

Right. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s really important to set that stage for parents to know that those newborns may sleep, you know, fourteen, seventeen, eighteen hours a day. Out of 24 hours, which is a lot. And people are like, really, because I, you know, all they hear is how disorganized that time is, but really know that we may only be awake for a very short amount of time and that that’s normal.

Very normal. Yeah. In fact, that’s really what you would want to see. Sleep is one of those things where the more rested you are, the more easily it is for you to sleep kind of sleep brings on sleep, which is a funny thing because people are oftentimes like, Ugh, that doesn’t make sense, but in, in newborns, that we’re staying on top of their wake window. We’re getting them to sleep really. That is something that’s going to help with the gaining that over tiredness a lot. And you would expect to see long, a lot of hours of sleep in a 24 hour period early on in. I think there’s a lot of parents that are like, well, how am I going to know? You know, what are, what are these cues?

What are things that you tell your clients? Like, how am I going to know my newborn is tired or that I haven’t kept them up too late. I mean, a lot of times hindsight is 2020, right. We look back and we’re like, oh yeah, it was probably the time. Right before they started crying right before they started getting fussy or whiny. What are, what are things that you tell parents to look out for? Because sometimes I think they can be subtle, but I also like to encourage newborn parents. I’m like, you will know, you will begin to learn that almost like you learn what different cries mean, but I think that you will start to pick up like, That might’ve been when they were more tired.

Yeah. That’s a great, great question, Bev. We hear that a lot. How do we know when they’re hungry versus when they’re tired? And what we suggest is when baby wakes up from a good nap, so 30 to 45 minutes, at least they’re going to be hungry. So what are they queuing for? How are those cues looking once babies fed.

Start watching the clock and around the 40 minute mark of awake time, you should start seeing those first cues. They can be so subtle, such as their eyebrows, turning red or bags under their eyes or quick yawn that no one saw coming. And then usually there’s another cue pretty quickly, and that could be hiccuping or a big stretch arms going up or rubbing their eyes, something like that. And then the last two is they’re pissed. They are crying. We’ve missed the boat. It’s probably right at an hour mark at this point in their wake window. And you got to get them down pretty quickly. So I like parents to start to observe baby at the end of their awake window, take actual notes because they can get new cues daily when they’re that little. And then once you see cue 1 hop into your nap routine, and then cue 2, they should be laying down in their safe sleep space. Getting ready to go to.

Right. We’ve done a whole podcast on safe sleep space. And I think that really is something that you want to reiterate during this newborn time, when you’re physically doing the work, you want a space where there is nothing, but basically your safe mattress in a crib or bassinet with a fitted sheet and your baby, that’s it. It’s good that we reiterate that and really put some importance on that because I think it’s really easy to use a lot of props or have kind of some crutches. You just, just don’t do it from the get-go and then you won’t have to break that habit later. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Lindsay, what do you think is the next tip that you guys would offer?

I think that the next tip that I would offer is the concept of eat, play, and then sleep. Just going back to what you were talking about, Bev. And the newborn phase, it’s very easy for baby to need a little bit of assistance and going down to sleep. Paige. And I always say that the goal of newborn sleep is to give your child an opportunity here and there to try to fall asleep on their own. But it’s not really. Not really likely that your newborn is going to fall asleep on their own all the time. That is something that comes as some of their circadian rhythm starts to establish cognitive development, all of those things. But one thing that we can do is to make sure that we’re trying to space and put a little space between the eating and the sleeping experience, what page and I find. We as children age, and parents start to reach out to us at all those older ages. That the number one association we see is a feeding to sleep association, meaning that the parent or the mom and dad are using either the breast or the bottle for the child to fall asleep for naps and for bedtime. So every sleep experience is essentially initiated with the use of feeding.

A good way to get ahead of that in the early in the early days is to follow this, eat, play, sleep routine. Meaning that after your child wakes up, let’s say in the morning, they’re going to wake up for the morning and you’re going to feed them after they leave. After the feed is done, you’re going to do some type of play with them.

Obviously in those early days, it might be a short amount, but even just two to five minutes of tummy time, for example, and then you will put them down to sleep. Not using that breast or bottle to get them to fall asleep. And so if you follow this particular process throughout the day it can really help to delineate between those two experiences.

The other thing too is following:. Eat, play sleep can be a really great way. Focusing on ensuring your child is getting good, nice, full feeds at those feedings. What we often find too, with those children that have those sleep associations, primarily those that may be nursing to sleep. And a lot of times we have these snack and snoozers.

You’re just snacking a lot throughout the day. Leading to not those nice full feeds affecting sleep and everything like that. I think that he plays sleep. If you follow that from the beginning can be a really nice way of setting yourself up for allowing your child to learn the skill of falling asleep on their own without that association.

I agree. I think that. Even from the medical standpoint, it’s a really good idea. Especially if you have kids that are maybe having a lot of reflux or feeding discomfort, because it’s difficult to put that child that has that discomfort down right away like that. Sometimes not always the best option when we’re coaching clinically about, Hey, your kid has some reflex, we’ve got a lot of spit-up. We kind of want you to feed and keep them upright for awhile. And that can be very helpful before you put them down. Parents get worried about, oh, my baby’s going to spit up and I’m putting, laying them down flat to sleep on their back. And I’m like, well, you know, if we do feeding. A nice chunk of awake activity time, and then putting down to sleep. We avoid that whole issue.

And considering play as that 10 minute holding that. You can do those hand-in-hand so we’re eliminating the discomfort for their tummies or the reflux. And then we’re also getting that play checked off of our list. I think that sometimes it can feel very overwhelming when you have 45 minutes to complete these tasks, you lay baby down and they spit up. Oh, no. Do we have to start all over? So that can be very tricky for new moms who are still having brain fog and all that. Just combine the play while you’re holding them. So their tummies can settle. Absolutely. And too, it is kind of nice too. Give that space of time, but it’s allowing that environment for them to learn how to settle themselves for sleep.

Exactly what Lindsey was saying that we’re really kind of differentiating between feeding and sleeping. Absolutely. Yeah. Paige, what would you say would be your third? So our third tip piggybacks off of the eat, play, sleep routine, and it would be a nighttime routine from the get go, you want to set a good bedtime routine. This is going to be so helpful when you’re tired and you want to make sure every. It’s done. So our quick newborn bedtime routine should be 20 to 30 minutes at the most. And it’s just going to be the same every single night. You’ll give baby a bath or you can wipe them down with a warm washcloth or just the parts that are dirty, their neck, their hands. There diaper area, jammies, swaddle, and then feed with breast or bottle, whatever your family’s doing. And then once baby is done feeding, we’ll lay them down in their safe sleep space and we’ll help them to fall asleep. They can be drowsy. They can be totally asleep at this stage either is fine. And you’re going to be with them hopefully going to sleep as well. Rubbing their tummy, patting their tummy, holding their hand, shushing them, things like that. Once they’re in the bassinet to make them feel safe and secure, they can still smell you. They have the warmth of your hand and your touch, and just really settle them into the bassinet. Lindsay and I hear this all the time. They hate their bassinet. They hate the crib. They cry as soon as I lower them down. How do I get them to sleep off of my chest or out of my arms so that I can also sleep as well.

We have a few tips for that. Once this routine is complete, you can lay baby down and you’re going to want to lay baby down feet legs, but back here, That order so that they don’t get startled and jolt awake. And then once baby’s in the crib really offer lots of love and support so that they know you’re still there. If you lay them down and you walk away right away, they are going to look for you. They love mama’s close. They need to smell you and hear you and feel you. So just put your hand on them and offer some touch and some voice until they are really out. And this can take. 10 to 20 minutes. It just depends on the baby.

And then my favorite tip would be to make sure that they’re warm. If baby is cold, they’re not wearing the proper jammies or swaddle and they leave your warm chest. Of course, they’re going to wake up. Sometimes you could warm up the bassinet with a warm water bottle while you’re feeding and then take it out, test it with your hand to make sure it’s not too hot and then lay baby down. Or you could also use a heating pad on the lowest setting. Doesn’t need to be super hot, just slightly warm. We don’t want to burn baby, but that will help them relax in their sleeping environment. And it’s, it’s really magical. I love that.

Looking at that routine. I always say to new parents in particular, just that’s my realm, my, my field of interest, right? With first rest of first steps that you really do want to take that time to get into the habit of feeding, being awake, putting to sleep, and that, that will pay off tenfold. But realize in the first couple of days, Nothing is perfect. Good sleepers are made. They’re not born that way. So if you get two to three cycles of man, I had a great feeding. My baby had some wake time and then we went down to sleep. That’s a victory, right? Not every single chunk of time is going to look that way. And especially early on. Setting kind of some realistic expectations, but it’s a goal to aim for right. It’s time really well-spent to get into that, but at nighttime, with that routine, That’s one of the exceptions that you may be feeding and then they go to sleep as long as that’s at the end of that routine. That that is an okay practice. Cause sometimes people get really confused about, well it’s bed time, but you want me to keep them awake before I put them down and I’m like, Hmm, not at nighttime. Outlining that. Yeah, I think we say in the newborn phase, there’s a very high likelihood they’ll be falling asleep during their feeds. They can tolerate then a much that amount of awake time. Right? So naturally they’re going to fall asleep at the breast. They’re going to fall asleep at the bottle. I just want my clients. We always say don’t let don’t get worked up about it. It’s okay. Right. It’s all right. They’re little. They’re very, very little like it’s, it’s, it’s absolutely fine. Obviously, like you said, Bev, if you have small victories where they stay awake and you’re able to fall asleep, please sleep in those early, early weeks, total victory. But if that’s not happening right away, don’t worry about it. There’s plenty of time to continue to establish healthy sleep habits and independence.

Exactly Lindsey. What would you say is your fourth tip? Yeah, the fourth tip is environment, right. I think we’ve talked a little bit about having a safe sleep space, but I think setting up your the space and environment to facilitate healthy sleep is also important one of the things that you touched on Bev was that in the early days of a baby’s life, they have no sets are Katie and rhythm, right. They don’t know day from night. And so we have to help set that through the way that we set our, our environments.

One of the tips and tricks that we have is suggesting that parents created. 12 hours a day and 12 hours of night for their, for their baby. Meaning that during the day, the baby is out in light, getting exposure to a little bit of sunlight and a healthy way of possible around noises, those types of things. And then at night in those 12 hours, right? They’re in a space that is dark and quiet. We don’t have electronics and blue light everywhere. You know, mom, isn’t nursing with herself. Those kinds of things where it’s really a calm, dark area in which baby knows this is the time to sleep. We want to make sure that we keep our sleep space boring, right we don’t want to bunch of distracting things in there, like mobiles or those cute little electronics, you know, that have the fish floating around and things like that. That’s the other thing is you wanna make sure that you’re mimicking the day or day and night and that you keep the sleep stays fairly before.

Following all of those safety tips that we’ve talked about, independencies from flat surface fitted sheet, nothing else in there. Because environment can really be a wonderful way to cue baby. And the more consistent you can stay with it, the more likely they are to kind of adapt today and tonight. And that is just as you get older as well, it’s going to always be one of those things that they’re used to and expecting kind of, sort of this, those week sleep expense.

I always explain that bedtime routine is kind of that transition from that active lively daytime environment to kind of calm and quiet. If you can feed by nightlight, do it. Not a lot of singing and queuing, feed your baby, get your business done in their safe sleep space. Right. So I think that really helps to.

Combat that issue of my baby has nights and days mixed up. If we create that environment, as far as during the day lively, it’s not sterile. We don’t live in a Ziploc bag. We don’t live in a vacuum. You know, let the doorbell ring. The TV might be on the toddlers, playing with somebody else. People are talking, allow that to happen. But at night, have a clear distinction that. Things are more calm. They’re half the volume, half the light. We’re really trying to damper all of that sensory input. What we see, what we hear, all of those things. We’re trying to bring it down a bit. I love that. So page bring us home with the last tip that you would recommend.

Our last tip is our biggest tip for any age range and it’s consistency. And this means. Once you decide the path that you’re going down, you need to continue going down the next day, over and over and over. If you have a hard afternoon, witching hour lasted six hours and you are feeling very beat. Do something for yourself that evening, get back in the game the next day and try again. That’s going to be the biggest key for this. It’s mostly you learning new habits to keep baby on track. And once you see some progress or those tiny wins that we talked about, you’ll feel more confident and it will become easier. But consistency is the name of the game. If you change your plan every day, baby is going to be fussy and irritable, and they’re never going to know what’s coming next and it’s going to be rough.

Yep. Agree. More consistency is king. That’s what I always say. And I always tell my clients, you will be annoyed by the amount of times I say, stay consistent. In the couple of weeks we work together. But it’s true. It’s, it’s what will lead you down a path to success? Right. I think having worked personally with Lindsay and her family, I’m sure you’ve probably heard me say, you know, it’s four to seven days to make or break a habit. Just continue. It’s a really short amount of time when you look at the grand scheme of things, but if you can stay consistent, your baby is really smart. They will do. What you want them to do. If you decide what your routine should look like, I think you have a much better chance if you’re doing the same things at the same time, in the same order to help that maybe kind of learn to settle like, oh, finally, I’m having my bath I get to go to bed. It’s it’s over for sure.

I think Paige, you did mention kind of some things that I’d like to touch on. The witching hour. That’s real. Right I mean, when my youngest was, you know, still kind of a younger individual, I, I think my voicemail on my phone was like, Hey, if it’s between four and seven and it’s not an emergency. We’re losing it over here at the Garrison household. I will not be calling you back. Like things are crazy. I don’t think that all families have that, but I think it’s important for people to understand and especially new parents to understand that we get to the end of the day and that baby is just as exacerbated. As you are, they’re tired. They’ve been touched in queued and fun to read to people in their face and laughing and they’re done. It’s. I also like to explain that, like, okay. So if your husband came next to you at noon and sort of tapping you on the shoulder all day until, seven, eight o’clock by that time, you like, if you touch me again, I’m gonna lose it. So just realize that that baby is probably like I’m at the max of my stimulus. And so there might be some times that maybe aren’t the easiest I do. Love a bedtime routine, because I think it allows you to find out those things that kind of helped to calm your baby, calm your child, and not a lot of stimulus, right? Like they’ve had enough for the day.

The other thing that I wanted to touch upon was just. Inconsistency in that same sentence. I always like to talk about parents being on the same page or partner being on the same page. Because if you work together as a team, it’s so much more easy. If one person has a certain philosophy and someone else has a certain philosophy, it’s not to say that one thing is better than another. Although there’s probably some tips and tricks that both Lindsay and Paige could teach you. But adhere to the same plan be on the same page. If you’re working with these gals as sleep specialists, take what they’re telling you. You both discuss process that, Hey, Paige, this works for me. Hey Lindsay, this doesn’t work for me. Can you give me an alternative that is still safe. That’s still going to achieve the same. Outcome, what can we do that, that works for both of us. I think that’s super important. Yeah, absolutely. And any future clients of ours, we do make sure both parents are on the calls with us. Both parents read over the plans and everybody’s questions are answered because it can go off the rails if someone’s didn’t get the information or agree to do the program. I couldn’t agree more. I’d say any, you know, any individual that’s going to be a caretaker in a child’s life needs to be bought in to the process. Just like Paige said, we oftentimes even include grandma or nanny or other caregivers in their discussion.

So that exactly that everyone’s on the same page because as a page likes to say confusion causes crying. The more we’re all on the same page, more consistent, we are the less confusion. And guess what? Probably less great, which all Paris. Right. And I think people really take for granted your, your babies, they sense how you’re feeling. And so when you have consistency and people have a plan, we tend to be a little bit more relaxed. We have, we have a process. We know what’s going to happen next. When things are chaotic and you’re feeling stressed, your baby sometimes can. Portray that as well. So I can play a role in our sleep as well.

I love the tips that you guys gave this evening. I really appreciate you joining me giving us just five great tips and tricks about newborn sleep and how to get things going from the get-go.

If you found the information in this podcast, helpful, you can click on the link below for a transcript of this current episode. If you are interested in working with me from first breaths to first steps and help coaching you and your new family. You can also click on that link until next time. Be well.

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