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Archive for the ‘newborn’ Category

I am part of a group on Baby Center called Babywise Babies. One of the moms on there had a question about her newborn and how to get her to sleep better. Made me go through a couple of posts that I have written and revisit the newborn stage so I thought I would share some of my experience and thoughts on how to help your newborn sleep better.

1. You need to find the right sleep window for your baby. This it a short window of time that allows your baby to fall asleep faster and easier. If you put your baby down to early he or she might be not tired enough. If you put your baby down too late, your baby might have hit a second wind and have some nervous energy and not be able to relax enough to sleep well.

2. The length of wake time is very important. Most newborns can only handle 30-45 minutes of wake time. Wake time includes the time it takes to feed them as well. So if you wake your baby and nurse for 30 minutes, then you only have about 15 minutes left of wake time at the most.

  • My personal experience: My twin girls had a waketime length of about 40 minutes when they were newborns. It consisted of the following: Nurse, Diaper Change, Immediately Swaddle, Put in Swing or Bouncers, Watch for their eyes to get heavy, Pick up and put them in their crib, AHHH Napping! To a list of schedules I kept with my twins click here.

3. Remember that Newborns can become very overstimulate quickly. It does not take much. They just spent the last 9 months in a quiet, dark environment. All the new lights and sounds can be a bit much for newborns. Try to keep the environment quieter, calmer, not as bright.

  • My personal experience: When my twins where born, my son was only 18 months old. He was full of energy and loud. He was a very good boy, but 18 month old toddlers have a hard time understanding what peaceful and quiet are. In order to keep the babies from getting too over stimulated I kept their bouncers and swings in my master bedroom (which was on the first floor). I kept my blinds shut, but there was still natural light in the room, just not overly bright. I sometimes had quiet classical music playing if Cooper was making a little too much noise and other times I just kept no music on. The babies would hang out in their bouncers or swings swaddled up tight in there. That kept Cooper from messing with them and it also allowed me to sneak in and “peek-in” on them. Once I noticed their eyes getting really heavy, I would carefully pick them up and place them in their cribs. The girls were sleeping in my walk-in closet at the time because I did not want to go up and down the stairs for middle of the night feedings. So I did not have long to walk between their swings and bouncers to my walk-in closet where they slept. I also allowed my girls a pacifier, which I think helped them sleep too.

3. Swaddling is so important for newborns. I cannot stress this enough! The startle reflex that newborns make causes them to jolt themselves awake. They just spent 9 months all balled up tight in your womb and now they are no boundaries and it scares them. Learn how to swaddle good and tight and I promise you that your baby will sleep well.

  • My personal experience: I found the best method for swaddling was to use a modified miracle blanket wrap. See my utube video of how to do this here (I need to upload the video still, I will do this later, so check back soon). I also found that if I finished diaper changing and put the twins in their swings or bouncers without a swaddle, when it came time to place them in their crib for their nap, they would get very fussy and wake up totally as I was trying to swaddle them. Then I had to start the whole nap routine all over again. In order to avoid that this was our waketime routine:
    1. Nurse
    2. Diaper Change
    3. Swaddle Tight
    4. Place in swing or bouncer
    5. Watch for heavy eyes or eyes shutting
    6. Pick up once heavy eyed and place in crib for nap
    I could not reverse #3 and 4 or they would fully wake up.

4. White Noise works. I know that a lot of people don’t want their baby or infant to get use to white noise to sleep because they will become dependent on it. But let me say, white noise does help. It gives the baby some background noise to hear. They just spent 9 months hearing fluid, heart beating, and other things going on inside of you. It was not quiet in there. The white noise is actually calming to babies. The other benefit of white noise is that you don’t have to tip toe and whisper around your house. If you have older children, white noise is essential if you ask me. I did not want to keep telling my toddler to be quiet, he is just being a toddler. With the while noise, I did not worry so much about my toddler’s noise level.

  • My Personal Experience: All 3 of my children sleep with white noise. We have a portable white noise machine in their rooms. It is easy to travel with too. I wrote a review on the two white noise machines I have used here. You can also use a stand up fan or a humidifier to give off white noise. Music can also be used to help drown out the sound by placing some soft quiet music.

5. Room Dimming helps too. You don’t have to go out and by dark out blinds, but make sure the room that you baby sleeps in is dim and not overly bright. I have found with all of my kids that they sleep better in dimmer rooms. Babies go though sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the 45-50 mark, if the baby is semi-aroused and sees light in his or her room, she might wake up and not want to continue sleeping. More on sleep cycles read this post.

  • My Personal Experience: My son Cooper is a very sensitive sleeper. The smallest sound or crack of light could wake him. As a new mom, I did not realize the power of making the room dimmer until one day I tough I would give it a try. He took such better naps from that point on. Cooper was the chronic 45 minute napper and the room dimming really helped. My twins defendant benefited from room dimming too. But now Cooper is 2.5 and my twins are 1 and I find they don’t need it quiet as dark anymore to sleep so I have started to make their rooms a little brighter.

6. Sometimes Babies will fuss in their sleep around 45-50 minutes into their nap. This does not necessarily mean they are hungry and are ready to wake up. Like I mentioned before, babies go through a sleep cycles every 45-50 minutes. At the end of the sleep cycle they are in light sleep and might wake up. Most newborns do not know how to self-sooth at this point and they start to fuss, fidget, and cry. My advice is to leave them alone for a few minutes to see if they can work it out on their own and return to sleep. If you see their fussing, crying, fidgeting getting worse, then you might want to go in your child’s room and help. I offered some advice on my post about the 45 Minute Intruder that you might find helpful.

  • My Personal Experience: With my son I wrote a lot about it on the 45 minute intruder post. With my twins, I learned to go in and put their pacifiers back in their mouths. That seemed to do the trick most of the time. If that did not work, I often would then pat their bellies and rub their heads and that helped to calm them back to sleep. I would do a very slow rhythmic pat. If after several pacifier attempts and patting and they were still not going back to sleep, I would get them up and feed them because I assumed it was a growth spurt.
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If you are anticipating a newborn, I bet you are wondering how you can possibly juggle the needs are two different children. Here is my suggestions:

1. Write your current child’s schedule on paper. Then think about how you can incorporate the needs of your newborn into your older child’s schedule.
2. Write out two schedules: One schedule that is a 3 hour schedule and one that is a 2.5 hour schedule. The 3 hour schedule is the goal and the one you hope to maintain, but you might need to feed more frequently in the beginning and also you might have a few growth spurts where you will need to feed more often. It is helpful to have a game plan for either situation.

Here are the schedules that I kept. I hope you find them helpful.

1-4 week old & 19 Month Old
(3 Hour Schedule)

7:00 Nurse, Followed by one-on-one time with Molly
7:45-10:00 Nap
8:00 Wake Up & Free Play
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Outside Play

10:00 Nurse, Followed by one-on-one time with Anna
10:00- 11:00 IPT
10:45-1:00 Nap
11:00 Structured Learning/ Play
11:30 Free Play
12:00 Lunch
12:30 Read Stories, Potty, Get Ready for Nap

1:00 Nurse, Followed by laying on the floor with Both Girls
1:00-4:00 Nap
1:45-4:00 Nap

4:00 Nurse, Followed by hanging out in bouncers
4:00 Snack & DVD in gameroom on blanket (Modified blanket time)
4:45-7:00 Nap
5:00 One-on-One time with Mommy
5:30 Outside Play/ Play with Daddy if he gets home on time
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Free Play

7:00 Nurse
7:00 Play with Daddy
7:30 Family Play
8:00 Bedtime
8:00 Bedtime Routine
8:30 Bedtime

8:30-10:00 Adult Time with No Kids
10:00 Nurse, Right Back To Bed (treat like a dreamfeed)

This is my 2.5 hour schedule that I used when the girls were about 6 weeks old. I did this for schedule for about 3 weeks when they hit a HUGE growth spurt. I also went back to this schedule a few times during other growth spurt seasons.

Twins: 6-9 weeks old, Cooper: 30 Months Old
(2.5 Hour Schedule)

7:00 Nurse & one-on-one time with Molly
7:50- 9:30 Nap
8:00 Wake & Free Play
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Outside Play

9:30 Nurse & one-on-one time with Anna
9:30-10:30 IPT
10:20- 12:00 Nap
10:30 Structured Learning/ Play
11:00 Free Play

12:00 Nurse (I nursed in the room right next to the kitchen so I could see Cooper) & Hang out in bouncers in kitchen
12:00 Lunch & DVD
12:50- 2:30 Nap
12:50 Get Ready for nap (sort version)
1:00-4:00 Nap

2:30 Nurse & hang out on floor with both girls
3:20- 5:00 Nap
4:00 Snack & One-on-One time with Mommy

5:00 Nurse
5:00 Blanket Time in Game room with DVD (modified blanket time)
5:30 Sibling Play with Mommy in Gameroom
5:50- 7:00 Nap
5:30 Outside Play/ Play with Daddy if he gets home on time
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Free Play

7:00 Nurse
7:00 Play with Daddy
7:30 Family Play
8:00 Bedtime
8:00 Bedtime Routine
8:30 Bedtime

8:30-10:00 Adult Time with No Kids
10:00 Nurse, Right Back To Bed (treat like a dreamfeed)

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I just became the parent of two beautiful twin girls. They were born on April 9th and they are 2.5 weeks old. I also have a 19 month old son. I am a firm believer in teaching a baby how to fall asleep without having to have them fall asleep in your arms. When Cooper was an infant, I would rock him until he was drowsy, that would take sometimes up to 15 minutes of rocking to get him to the drowsy stage. If I did not rock him and just lay him in his crib, he would never go to sleep on his own. He needed my help. In hindsight, I wish I would never have rocked him before he went to sleep. I should have just held him until he started to calm down. Eventually, I could just lay my son down without any rocking, but that did not come until he was a much older baby, probably over 9 months old.

With the twins, I only have one pair of arms to rock a baby. I am also limited on the amount of time I can spend helping the twins go to sleep because I have to worry about my 19 month old. What I have been doing is swaddling the twins real good, putting them in their bouncers and swings, and waiting for their sleepy cues that it is time to go to sleep. Their sleepy cues is less activity and their eyes start to get heavy and dart back and forth under their eye lids. At that point, I pick them up, carry them to their cribs, and lay them down. I sometimes give them a pacifier if are having trouble. Since I started doing this, they go to sleep well on their own.

On occasion, one of the twins just has trouble going to sleep. When that happens, I do the following things:
1. Put a pacifier in their mouths.
if that does not work…
2. Rub their heads or tummies to calm them
if that does not work…
3. Just let them fuss
if that does not work…
Pick them back up and return them to bouncer/ swing until drowsy and then lay them down again

Just let them fuss: I have actually perfered to do this method. As long as the girls are not truly crying, then I will let them fuss and get themselves to calm down. This is teaching them to self-sooth so they will not need much assistance to drift off to sleep. If their fussing turns into true crying, then I usually pick them up and try the bouncer or swing until drowsy.

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As a first time parents, I was desperately trying to figure out what my newborn son needed. What did his cries mean? I came across a great DVD that explains what your newborn’s cries mean- “Dunstant Baby” I rented it from the library. This DVD taught you how to recognize if your baby was crying because he was hungry, tired, had gas, or was board/ need a change. The DVD shows a number of babies make these particular cries so it is very helpful to see the different cries actually produced. My son Cooper definitely made these cries. The most helpful cries were the ones for hunger, tired, and gas. It helped me to follow my son’s lead when it come to feeding him and following his hunger cues. I was on a baby wise feeding schedule, but if my son let out a cry for hunger “neh” I made sure I fed him. It helped me to not over feed him because there would be times he would cry, but it would be for other reasons such as tiredness, and I would just put him down for a nap at that point.

Here is a quick clip of the DVD from utube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ehv5m9gnu0

Here is what Wikipedia writes about the program:

Between 0-3 months, infants make what Dunstan calls sound reflexes.[2] According to Dunstan, we all have reflexes, like sneezes, hiccups, and burps, that all have a recognizable pattern when sound is added to the reflex. There are other reflexes that all babies experience, and when sound is added to these, a distinct, preemptive “cry” will occur before the infant breaks into what Dunstan calls the hysterical cry. Dunstan claims that these preemptive cries can indicate what the infant requires (e.g., food, comfort, sleep, etc.), and they escalate to the hysterical cry if they are not answered. As the infant matures past 3 months in vocalization, the sound reflexes become replaced with more elaborate babbling.

According to Dunstan, the five universal words (or sound reflexes) used by infants are[3]:

Neh—I’m hungry – An infant uses the sound reflex “Neh” to communicate its hunger. The sound is produced when the sucking reflex is triggered, and the tongue is pushed up on the roof of the mouth.
Owh—I’m sleepy – An infant uses the sound reflex “Owh” to communicate that they are tired. The sound is produced much like an audible yawn.
Heh—I’m experiencing discomfort – An infant uses the sound reflex “Heh” to communicate stress, discomfort, or perhaps that it needs a fresh diaper. The sound is produced by a response to a skin reflex, such as feeling sweat or itchiness in the bum.
Eairh—I have lower gas – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eairh” to communicate they have flatulence or an upset stomach. The sound is produced when trapped air from a belch that is unable to release and travels to the stomach where the muscles of the intestine tighten to force the air bubble out. Often, this sound will indicate that a bowel movement is in progress, and the infant will bend its knees, bringing the legs toward the torso. This leg movement assists in the ongoing process.
Eh—I have gas – An infant uses the sound reflex “Eh” to communicate that it needs to be burped. The sound is produced when a large bubble of trapped air is caught in the chest, and the reflex is trying to release this out of the mouth.

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Just like it is good to establish a good bedtime routine, it is just as important to establish a good morning routine. In Kim West’s book Good Night, Sleep Tight she discusses a good part of a morning routine should be a “dramatic wake-up”. A dramatic wake-up should signal to your child that the day has started and it is different than waking in the middle of the night. To establish a “dramatic wake-up” try opening the blinds, turn on the bight over head light, and signing a happy song.

Why is this important? You want your child to know the difference between day and night. This helps to establish the difference clearly. If you have to go into their room during the night, you are are not going to sign a song and turn on a bright light. At night you keep as little stimulation from occurring as possible. The morning is the time to arouse and stimulate your child, helping them to set their natural alarm clocks. This is particularly important with newborns who are very sleepy. Many newborns have their day and nights confused- this helps to distinguish the difference.

It might also be helpful if you allow daddy to do the dramatic wake-up. This gives daddy the one-on-one time with baby and it does not require nursing (if nursing). Daddy can sing and talk to the baby while mommy either readies herself to breastfeed or perhaps is preparing the bottle. If you baby is not starving, you can also include a diaper change and change out of pajamas. Young infants tend to wake in the morning crying from hunger, you might have to delay the diaper change and clothing change until after the feeding. Another suggestion, try feeding your child in a well lit room that is not in the nursery in the morning. This will also help to establish the start of the day. Keep the day time feeding out of the nursery and all nighttime feeding in the nursery.

Here is what we do with our son for a “dramatic wake-up”

Dad goes in his room, turns on the light, opens the windows, and talks and plays with Cooper for a minute or two. Daddy then brings Cooper into our bedroom so that I can breastfeed him. After I finish feeding him, I put him on the potty (we do infant potty training), change his diaper, and put on a outfit for the day. We do this routine pretty much every day. Notice that daddy gets to get him up and I feed him. We share the responsibility and it gives us each quality one-on-one time with your son.

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In the book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, the author discusses the idea that it is best to put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. This is important if you want your child to learn how to fall asleep on his own with out your help. If you child awakes in the middle of the night, he will not be depend on you to help him fall back to sleep. A very young baby (under the age of 4 months) will usually need assistance to help calm and sooth before bedtime. It is okay to rock, swing, and walk with your baby to help calm them down, but only do it to the point when your baby is drowsy.

The author also discusses the most common mistake a parents makes is to nurse their child to sleep. The key is to nurse your child only enough to the point where they are drowsy and not totally asleep. She writes:“When he stops sucking energetically and swallowing, and instead is sucking gently, a sort of fluttering motion on your breast (or bottle), he is past the ‘drowsy’ target. In fact, if you look, you’ll see his eyes are probably closed…If he wakes up as you are unlatching him and still seems hungry…give him one more chance. If he starts eating fine let him finish. But if he just goes back to that flutter sucking, you’ve been duped! He isn’t hungry, he just wants to suckle himself to sleep. (p.20)”

Your child may cry a little before falling asleep. It is okay. That is their way of blowing off steam. Some babies need to cry to help themselves fall asleep. My son will cry now, at 6 months, for about 5 minutes before falling asleep. When we first started putting my son to sleep drowsy there would be nights when he would fall asleep with no tears and other nights he would cry for up to 20 minutes. Eventually, the amount of time he would cry decreased and he became more efficient at falling asleep on his own. This was a huge help for when he would awake in the middle of the night on his own. He would fuss and cry for a few minutes, but eventually fall back to sleep on his own without our assistance.

Please feel free to share your stories and success with putting your babies to sleep drowsy!

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In the book, Good Night, Sleep Tight, the author write about the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine. This is not the time to be stimulating our child with a tickling war. Rather, this should be a calm, whine down time for you and your baby. The key is calm. Do activities that are not highly over stimulating and do the same routine every night. Doing the same routine every night will help signal to your child that it is now time to sleep (not play). Children thrive from routine and it is never to early to begin! Make sure you start your routine in enough time to get your child in bed at your chosen bedtime. For example, if you child goes to sleep at 8pm, make sure you start your bedtime routine at least 15-30 minutes before bedtime at 7:30pm.

My Son’s Bedtime Routine

Every night when my son Cooper was a newborn, we would bathe, nurse him (or bottle), turn on white noise (fan or white noise machine), swaddle, rock him a little (to the point of drowsiness), and put him in his crib.  As Cooper got older, our routine change a little: bathe, nurse/bottle, white noise turned on, swaddle/sleep sac, prayer, and put in crib. Cooper no longer needed the rocking to help calm and soothe him for bed. My son has had different bedtimes at different ages. Currently my son goes to bed at 7:00pm. We start our bedtime routine at 6:30pm so we can have him in bed by 7:00pm.

Suggested Activities for Bedtime

Read Books, Infant Message, Bath, Sing, Listen to soft music, rock/hold/ cuddle, nurse/bottle, walk with baby, gaze at mobile in crib together, rock in rocking chair

It should be noted that newborns often need extra help to whine down at night. It is important to give them extra time to calm and relax for sleep. Try not to put your baby in their crib asleep. It is okay to get your baby to the point of drowsiness, but try not to put her down for the night asleep. This will not help your child learn how to get herself to sleep on her own.

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