Having a newborn can be tough, especially in the beginning. With being both physically and mentally exhausted after the birth, getting sleep for both you and your baby can be a challenge. Below are some tips that worked for us:
1. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Don't just set a bedtime for the baby, but for you as well. You need all the energy you can get, so getting vital beauty rest will be both essential for you and baby. In the beginning a newborn typically sleeps a lot, especially during the day, so having a later bedtime isn't necessarily a bad thing. Taylor's bedtime was 11pm in the first few months. It may seem late, but it worked for us, especially while nursing (will get more in depth below).
2. Swaddle. Swaddle. Swaddle. I highly recommend swaddling. There is something about this technique that makes a baby feel warm and safe. Especially in the first three months it is very important to swaddle. They are just getting used to this outside world, so you want to resemble the womb as much as possible, especially at bedtime.
3. Double feed at night. When I say double feed I don't mean overload them on breast milk or formula. Right before I put Taylor down, I would always feed her around 9:30pm, then again at 10:30pm. That way when I put her down at 11pm, I knew she was really full and could sleep a really long time. Great for both of us.
4. Play some background noise. I have a sound machine next to Taylor's crib that I continue to use to this day. It has always helped. It also helps to have some sort of noise during the day. If you are too quiet while a baby is sleeping during naps and such; they will become accustomed to silence, and become really restless if they hear any distractions. So get them used to noise young.
5. Put the baby down. And when I say put the baby down, I mean put him or her down while still awake. Drowsy but awake. If you get into the habit of always putting your little one down when they are asleep; you will get stuck doing that until they are 4 or 5 years old. Babies are quite capable of falling asleep on their own. I believe some parents are afraid of this. Trust me they can handle it. You might be surprised.
6. Pacify. Okay I know some moms are probably against me for saying this, but a pacifier at night is the best thing. Babies like to suckle; it puts them at ease. I usually only give Taylor a pacifier for naps, at night or in the car. Mainly at times when I am not able to tend to her, or if I have just finished feeding her, and give her the ole switcheroo. Now that she is a little older, she doesn't need it as often, so I don't force it. You will know when they are over this stage.
7. Let em cry it out. I had a really hard time with this is the beginning, as I'm sure most mothers do. I remember one night Taylor was just not wanting to go to sleep. She probably ate for almost an hour, I knew she was changed, she had burped; she honestly just wanted me to hold her. Denny told me to put her down, let her cry it out, and after 5 minutes if she was still crying I could pick her up and do what I needed to do. So that's what I did. I put her down she cried for 5 min; I picked her up, changed her, laid her back down. She cried again.. I let her cry it out for a total of 3 minutes, and then silence. She was asleep! I couldn't believe it! And honestly since that night, she has gone to sleep on her own. After you get over that initial crying hump, it will make EVERYONE's lives easier.
8. Keep them close, but not too close. In the first few months it's important for the baby to sleep in your room, or in a room close to you. Especially if you are nursing. Taylor's bassinet was in our room, but on the opposite wall. I knew if I had her close to me, I would never get sleep, because I would be checking on her every 5 minutes. So I kept her close enough to hear her if she woke up, but not so close that I stayed up.
9. Dream feed. In the first couple months, when the baby needs to gain weight, they will need to be fed every 3-4 hours. Now this is up for debate I'm sure. I wanted to wake Taylor up to eat, but sometimes she just wouldn't. Newborns are very sleepy. Initially I would change her diaper to get her a little awake, just enough so she could be fed. I would "dream feed" her. She would still suckle, but be asleep. So she was getting the nutrients she needed without having to sacrifice sleep. After babies get back up to their birth weight, it's really not necessary to feed them in the middle of the night. So when Taylor would wake up, instead of me feeding her, I would pop a pacifier in her mouth, and she would fall back asleep. This really helped in eliminating those nighttime feedings, and getting her on a regular sleep pattern.
10. Be flexible. Sticking to a routine is great, but don't become OCD with it. This takes time. I truly believe we have a good baby because we are flexible. We stick to a routine, but we don't let it run our lives.
Remember they are only this little once, so enjoy it! So if that means cuddling and kissing them a lil longer or letting them sleep in your bed for the night. It's totally okay! They are your baby after all, and you know what's best. But in case you are having a hard time, I hope some of my night time tips can help ease your struggle.