Confident Sleepers: 8 Ways to Teach Healthy Sleep from the Start
Wellness starts from day one. It's the one thing we learn and need to start incorporating into ur being from the start. Sleeping well is a skill we can teach children, giving them the capacity to sleep well and increase their health for life. Life coach and sleep expert Kristine Petterson offers several ways we can guide children from the start to be confident sleepers.
I am among the many women who struggle with serious mental health concerns after just a few days of poor quality sleep. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 10-15% of women experience postpartum depression. For some, poor sleep is tied to depression, which may in turn cause increased sleep problems. It became an important self-care goal for me to prioritize independent sleep for a really young baby so that I could be the mother I wanted to be for my two kids.
In some ways this concerned me because as a sleep specialist I knew that newborns don’t have the ability to soothe themselves if they get overtired or overstimulated. However, I also knew that their brain and body want to link sleep cycles and I trusted that I could help this sweet baby girl stack the building blocks for healthy sleep. One at a time. Step by step.
Newborn Sleep Tips: Help Baby Learn Day from Night
Babies have been on their own agenda in the womb and would happily continue that itinerary after they arrive earth side. Starting in the first week of life, here are eight strategies you can use to start teaching your newborn about day versus night with these cues:
Day starts at 7 or 8 am and that's when we eat and have fun activity time between naps.
Keep babies involved in sensory activities for 30-60 minutes after waking.
Allow them to sleep in lighter clothes, and loose swaddle or sleep sack.
If nap is going over 2 hours, open curtains and help them to wake up for their next meal.
Night starts at 7 or 8pm and that's when we sleep, sleep, sleep, eat, and sleep some more.
Keep babies in dim light, no talking or stimulation when diaper changing or feeding.
Bundle babies up in warm sleepers and tight womb-like swaddles.
If they ate full meals every 3-4 hours during the day, no need to wake babies up every 2 hours (unless your pediatrician has prescribed this). Let them get the healthy sleep growing bodies and minds need! They will likely wake when hungry after 3-5 hours for a feeding.
Most people resign themselves to the fact that all babies are terrible sleepers, and parents are sentenced to a life of sleep deprivation for months or even years with no control over their child’s sleep habits. But that does not have to be your reality!
Your newborn can learn to sleep all night long -waking for one or two large feedings- and take up to five hours of naps during the day. Which means you have a better chance of getting the sleep you need so that you have enough energy to do all the spit up and blow-out laundry you’ll also be experiencing in this precious time.
Kristine Petterson is a highly sought-after yoga instructor, birth doula, certified sleep consultant, and mindful parenting educator. She’s dedicated to creating a sense of freedom and support for other families so they feel more capable, thriving and nurtured. Kristine’s classes and packages support families in changing old unwanted patterns. Her Facebook community inspires laughter and learning together without judgement. Kristine lives in Idaho with her husband and two daughters. Receive empowering resources, tips and inspiration at kpettersonsleep.com.