Because I am expecting again in June, I find myself thinking a lot (again!) lately about newborn sleep habits and those first few months of life and so I thought I would share something for all you expectant and newborn Mommas.
The NUMBER ONE most important thing you can do from that very first night at home is……
I know some of you did it in your head!
The very best thing you can do to begin instilling healthy sleep habits is:
TO TRY TO PREVENT THEM FROM FALLING ASLEEP WHILE NURSING/FEEDING, WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Don’t get me wrong; I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, and having that special bond with your babe. What we do suggest is that you nurse them when they first wake, and then they will likely “play” a little bit (also known as staring at things and pooping) and then go back off to sleep. If you do nurse/feed them again before they conk out – just try to wake them a wee bit before you lay them down.
We want them to associate nursing with care-giving, having their needs met, bonding with you, being loved, and so on…but not necessarily associate nursing with sleep.
Trust me..breaking a suck-to-sleep association later on is not easy, and babies that do form that association tend to wake up after a single sleep cycle (20 to 30 minutes) so can have incredibly broken sleep and short naps. Why? Because they are no longer sucking and so they wake to look for it, thinking it’s the only way they can sleep. This also creates the nurse all night (rather than out of need) phenomenon.
For me, this meant that the VERY MINUTE I tried to hop in the shower after having a quick snack while he slept, mine would inevitably wake. There were a LOT of no showering days in those first 6 months and this time, I am committed to instilling healthy sleep habits from the start, so I can shower more than once every two or three days.
Here’s to newborns and Mommas who shower and don’t look (or smell) like zombies! Woo!