When you bring your baby home from the hospital, that first day you are feeling all kinds of emotions. You’re terrified. You are joy-filled. You are maybe feeling kind of miserable depending on the labor and delivery experience. Sadly, it can feel like all the support was ripped out from underneath you because you were so safe and set at the hospital.
And now we’re home. In this video, I want to prepare you for what to do the first week of your newborn’s life at home.
I’m so glad you’re here because here at Little Z’s because we make getting sleep help easy. Sleep training consulting was not available for me when we brought home our first daughter, Ellie, seven years ago. I DID NOT want to leave the hospital. I had a horrific labor experience (TLDR: the epidural failed and I didn’t sign up for natural childbirth).
On top of that, this was our first kid and I’ll admit, I didn’t know what I was doing. The safety and security of the hospital gave me relief and I could rest that Ellie was in good hands.
I took all the classes for breastfeeding and had the nursery prepared, but getting the baby home was unreal to me. My safety net was gone. I created this guide to help you avoid feeling like I did.
There are three small steps that will help you make sleep a thing for your newborn.
The first thing I want you to focus on in your baby’s first week of life is a bedtime routine. Instilling a bedtime routine from the beginning is such a powerful cue.
The second thing that I want you to focus on is feeding awake. Hold on, Becca. That’s hard. I know your baby is practically sleeping all the time. I’ll explain, but I’m just giving you the quick, like cliff notes here.
The third thing that I want you to focus on is attempting just one nap in the bassinet or the crib, that’s it. Okay. Now let’s take a deep breath and we’re going to go through each of those steps together.
This is not radical. In fact, we have an entire blog post dedicated to the step-by-step process of an ideal baby bedtime routine. And you may not even be thinking that you could do a bedtime routine with a newborn, but when you start this literally from the first day of their life, you are setting your little one up for success. Bedtime routine is just a cue. A cue that says, “Hey, nighttime is coming.” Your newborn does not understand the difference between day and night until about eight to nine weeks from their due date.
It helps if there is a signal that you can send to your baby. My favorite part of the bedtime routine is the bath. It is sweet and precious and it’s that wonderful tender moment you get to have with your baby.
A lot of parents wonder when they can start reading to their baby. You can start right in the first week of life! Reading is such a powerful cue for bedtime. It’s short and sweet.
Additionally, you don’t have to take a bath every night. Get your child down to their diaper and wipe them down with a washcloth. Then, change their diaper, swaddle them, do a feed, and put her/him to sleep.
The second thing I want you to focus on is feeding your little one awake, not asleep. Now let’s get real here.
I am all about low pressure. There are a lot of different sleep philosophies out there. And I am so thankful that you are entrusting me with your newborn sleep and education here. But here’s the thing—I’m going to tell you this, but it’s not a test. If you don’t do it one day, you won’t fail.
So, how do you feed a newborn that is super sleepy? Well, here’s what we can try— poke them, tickle them, strip them down to a diaper, and make sure the room is warm. Use a wet washcloth and pat their cheeks and their face. I’ve even had families tell me that they grab ice cubes or cold teaser toys and rub the baby’s feet because they were so sleepy.
Feeding them awake is going to take some work. A lot of our parents who take our newborn course never have to actually do a formal sleep training program because they are using these practices. Food is for nourishment, not as a sleep prop.
Your newborn will feed at night, but eventually, because they feed awake during the nighttime routine, they will get a full feeding.
If you can take one step for me, let’s focus on the first feed of the day and bedtime feed. That’s it. I don’t care all throughout the nighttime and all throughout the daytime, your little one could feed to sleep, but this is what I call the bookends. If we can do the first feed of the day when they start their day and the last bit of the day during the bedtime routine, that’s fine.
Be gracious to yourself because you cannot be all things to all people in your home and to your baby without taking care of yourself. If you really need to take this a little bit slower, please honor yourself and do that.
The third thing that I want you to try in your newborn’s first week home is to attempt one nap in their crib or bassinet. If that one nap is even 15 minutes, then that is a great step. Those short newborn naps are normal and good for your baby.
Why does this matter so much? I’m sure that your newborn is cute and just the most precious, adorable baby that has ever lived on the earth. But here’s the thing— you matter most of all, okay? You are going to have that physical bond, but it is really important for you to know that you exist outside of a newborn as well.
Even 15 to 20 minutes for you to sit by yourself, eat a snack, and drink some water without having a contact nap is vitally important for your mental wellbeing. So that’s why I’m going to urge you to try—we have a whole blog post and video on helping your newborn nap in their crib.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to check out our newborn sleep course from top to bottom. This is the course that will give you the education that you are craving right now. When you came home from the hospital, you may be feeling a little bit panicked. In fact, when you’re in the hospital, the only information you got about infant sleep was don’t bed share.
Don’t put your baby in your bed—trust me, I’ve been there. I have woken up with a baby underneath my covers, which is exactly where all of this began. It was the scariest moment of my life.
That scary moment and the pure sleep exhaustion is what got me excited to learn about sleep. I wanted to share it with others! That’s what got me excited to learn about sleep.
Go check out littlezsleep.com/newborn. The newborn program never expires, and it will give you all of the education and information you need to start making sleep a thing, especially from the first week of your newborn’s life!
We appreciate you so much!
Sweet dreams. See you next time.
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