Sleep Matters by Modern Mommy Doc, Whitney Casares

Sleep Matters by Modern Mommy Doc, Whitney Casares

If there’s one thing that trips up most new moms, it’s infant sleep. The trick to bedtime bliss? Don’t expect your infant to sleep like a baby—they’re hardwired in the beginning to have day- night confusion.

Instead, get the sleep you need during the day or early evening, so the nighttime’s not so daunting. Even better, find help—family, friends, doulas—to take a turn holding your baby or soothing so you can get some shut-eye.

Why are babies such notoriously bad sleepers?

They’re not used to living in the modern world where it’s bright and cold and, sometimes, a little too quiet and still. When they are in the womb, babies are used to being swayed and sushed to sleep. It’s warm and dark and LOUD there (the sounds of blood and fluid rushing around is crazy rhythmic and at a higher volume than you might expect). They’re swayed the most during the day as you walk and move about and they’re swayed less during the night as you sleep. When they emerge into the world, it takes a while (like three months sometimes) to get away from their pre-programmed way of snoozing and to get their days and nights sorted out.

Now, if you still lived back in the day and didn’t have a social life, a bunch of years of solid sleep under your belt, and maybe a job you’re thinking about going back to in a few months, it would be a whole lot easier to mentally cope with your baby’s day-night confusion but, the reality is, having a baby requires a complete mental paradigm shift. For at least the first 90 days, the most successful mamas find a way to adjust their perspectives and, instead of trying to change the way a baby acts, they actively seek out ways to cope with the reality in front of them.

Nope, you can’t change the way a baby is pre-programmed to sleep on day one, but here’s the secret to getting the shut-eye you and your babe need:

  1. Learn how to mimic the womb, especially at night (hint: Harvey Karp’s book, Happiest Baby on the Block is like the baby sleep bible). Dark, loud (white noise), snug (swaddles) spaces really do help. 
  2. Set a consistent routine so that you don’t dread the late night awakenings that are bound to happen. A regular bedtime routine helps signal to your baby that it's time to wind down.
  3. Dress for optimal comfort. Ensure your baby is dressed in breathable, gentle fabric like our convertible gown for a serene sleep.
  4. Get help! Get a friend, a doula, a family member—anyone you trust—to stay even one night at your home in the first few weeks so you have an opportunity to rest in-between feeds. Baby sleep is the most intimidating when you feel like there is no light at the end of the exhaustion tunnel. 
  5. Give yourself a break when your baby doesn’t follow the book. If you don’t end up with a good sleeper, and none of the tips and tricks and gadgets seem to make a difference, it may come down, ultimately, to your child’s unique temperament. SO, do not feel discouraged if things take longer in your household to get to “quiet as a mouse” in the midnight hour.

Want more? Check out Happiest Baby and Precious Little Sleep for more help in this area.