7 Healthy Baby Sleep Habits

You can help baby sleep better from day 1.

7 Healthy Baby Sleep Habits

Life with a new baby is often defined by how much sleep you’re (not) getting. Sure, some new mamas luck out with newborns who magically sleep through the night from very early on. But for most of us, sleep becomes a thing of the past. So what if we told you it doesn’t have to be that way? Indeed, you can instill good sleep habits from day one so that you and baby get the sleep that you deserve and need.

Here are 7 tips to set up your baby for good sleep from early on.

1. Get in a rhythm. For a new mom used to being in charge of her daily schedule, a newborn’s unpredictable naps can cause serious mental whiplash. Your goal during this period is to prevent your baby from becoming overtired during the day. Most newborns can only comfortably stay awake for 45-60 minutes between naps, so start there. Once she wakes from one nap, set a timer on your phone so you can monitor when it’s time for the next nap. Some babies need even shorter awake windows, so also monitor her tired signs. With these tools, you can anticipate your baby’s tiredness the same way you do her hunger, which will prevent her becoming overtired and make putting her down for a nap much easier.


2. It’s all about the routine. Once your baby is a few weeks old, introduce a short sleep-time routine before naps and bedtime. This consistent series of events will serve as a cue that it’s almost time to sleep. Don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel: a soothing sleep routine for a newborn can be as simple as feeding her, changing her diaper, then singing a song or two before putting her down to rest.

3. Nighttime is for sleep. Any new mom will tell you that a newborn’s day/night confusion is the worst. While this naturally sorts itself out around 8 weeks, you can help nudge this process along by exposing your little one to bright, natural light during daytime and darkness at nighttime. Any activities that occur overnight (i.e., feedings or diaper changes) should be done in a darkened room with ninja-like stealth.

4. Practice good habits. For the first few months, don’t stress too much about creating bad sleep habits. It’s okay if your baby sleeps in her stroller or sometimes falls asleep while eating. While you don’t need to be the sleep police yet, it’s never too early to introduce good sleep habits. For example, make a point of putting her down awake in her crib for some of her naps. Or, once she wakes, give her a minute to practice her self-soothing skills before you go to her. Start small and build from there.

5. Don’t unnecessarily introduce sleep associations. Pay attention to what sleep associations you’re creating. Ask yourself: is this [rocking/nursing to sleep/bouncing] absolutely necessary? Sometimes the answer is YES! HELL YES! But if there’s a workaround to creating a sleep association for which you’ll kick yourself later, try that first. Get creative. Don’t introduce anything that isn’t critical to maintaining your sanity.

6. Safety first. A new mom wants nothing more than for her baby to sleep. Sometimes we’re so desperate (and exhausted) that we ignore our better judgment. I urge every baby mama out there to review the American Academy of Pediatrics’ newly revised safe sleep guidelines. Note in particular that it’s highly discouraged to allow your baby to sleep for an extended time in a swing, Rock-n-Play, car seat, and so forth. It’s also equally important that your baby’s crib or bassinet be completely free of bumpers, stuffed animals, blankets, Dock-a-Tots, and other beddings. Safety first, mamas.

7. Repeat to yourself: this is just a phase. Every new mama reaches a point, often in the middle of a sleepless night, where she concludes that life will be like this forever. She’ll never sleep again and, quite possibly, eventually will go crazy or head to divorce court. Just remember: there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Around 3-4 months, you should start to see longer stretches of sleep at night and naps that become longer and more reliable. At 16 weeks, it’s time to move your baby onto a schedule and get serious about consistent, healthy sleep habits. If you’ve followed all of the advice above, you should have an easier time and will navigate through the 4-month sleep regression like a champ!

Hadley Seward is a certified sleep consultant and founder of Bonne Nuit Baby. Based in France and New York City, she works with exhausted parents around the world to get their kids’ sleep back on track. Meet her here + follow her adventures at @hadleyinfrance.

Photography by Stylish & Hip Kids.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

Keep reading Show less

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.


I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

Keep reading Show less