Oh, those first days home with your newborn… your brand new, perfect new baby!! It’s a whirlwind, to say the least, full of its ups and downs.
In this blog, I’m going to talk about:
Grab your new, tiny little one and let’s jump right in!
We’ve got a new baby…now what?!?
Along with all those new ups and downs that come with the first few days home with a newborn, come soooooo many “shoulds”. I know it might be easier said than done, but my biggest piece of advice is to let go of the shoulds…and give yourself grace!
This is a time full of adjustment and recovery…and it can be challenging. Remember to take care of yourself and focus on finding your groove as you get to know your new baby and learn their cues.
While you are busy adjusting and recovering, do what works for you, makes you happy, and helps you feel at peace. Know that this is going to look different for all of us! I talk a lot about how every baby is different…the same goes for mamas! We are all operating from our own biases.
Click here to listen to me talk more about letting go of the “shoulds” on Instagram.
If this isn’t your first time around the block and you’re bringing a new baby home to older siblings, I got you! Click here to check out my blog post all about introducing a new sibling and preparing your other little one(s) for the adjustment.
What do we do about sleep for the first days home with a newborn?
First and foremost, I want to make this clear…YOU CANNOT SPOIL A NEWBORN! The first three months of your baby’s life are often referred to as the “fourth trimester”. During this time, you do NOT need to worry about too much baby-wearing, contact naps, nursing your little one to sleep, etc.
This means you can feel free to give your new baby ALL the snuggles, rocking, contact naps, etc. that you both want. You’re not creating “bad habits” or “ruining” your baby’s future sleep.
During this “fourth trimester”, babies have very little self-soothing capability, which is why we don’t start sleep learning until around four to five months.
It is totally normal to desperately sour the web and/or social media for any solution to getting more sleep when you’re thrown into the depths of sleep deprivation. The thing you do NOT want to do though, is “cry it out” with your brand new baby.” Here are a couple of reasons why:
1. Crying is a form of communication
We don’t want to miss hunger cues or signaling for a solid diaper, or pain/discomfort.
2. Newborns are not capable of self-soothing
For “cry it out” to be effective, your little one needs to be able to self-soothe first.
Click here to check out my blog post all about why you shouldn’t let a newborn “cry it out” and what to do instead!
The good news? There ARE things you can to do help your new baby get great sleep (yes, even before you start the sleep learning process!) Do NOT stress too much over these! Know that they are just here as a list/guide of things to troubleshoot if you feel you and your baby need them. Let’s go over each of the following:
Click here to check out this post on Instagram.
1. Get good, full feedings
Work on getting good full feedings and (over time) practice feeding before sleep instead of to sleep. Click here to read more about why getting good full feedings matters so much for your new little one.
Newborns looooove when their environment mimics where they just spent the past 9 months…the womb! So, a nice snug swaddle is key. Click here for my full swaddle tutorial.
3. Watch sleepy cues
It’s super easy to miss newborn sleepy cues. And, if you wait to put your newborn down until you are seeing tired cues, you’ve waited too long and it may be more difficult to get them to sleep!
Newborn sleepy cues include starting off into the distance, a calm peaceful demeanor, a subtle yawn, and reddish hues on their eyebrows and eyelids. Those are all the signs that it’s time to get your little one to sleep!
Click here to check out this post on Instagram.
Once your new baby has started fussing, rubbing their eyes, tugging on their ears, and/or avoiding eye contact, they are headed towards becoming overtired. And being overtired is one of the top reasons why babies have difficulty sleeping!
4. Prevent overstimulation
Little babies’ brains are so tiny and new and we’ve got a very stimulating world. Some newborns are really good at tuning it all out and going to sleep when they need to. Others are interested in anything and everything around them and have a serious case of FOMO.
Be mindful of too much stimulation, especially as you are approaching the end of a wake window. Babies can get wired and tired easily!
5. White noise
White noise can be an INCREDIBLE tool! Place the white noise machine between your baby and where the disruptive noises are coming from.
- Limit the duration of use (turn off the machine during awake time)
- Locate the sound machine far from your baby (at least 7 feet away from your little one)
- Set the volume as low as possible (50 dB or lower)
“Infant ‘sleep machines’ (ISMs or ‘white noise’ machines) produce sound in the location where the infant sleeps to soothe the infant and make other noises.
Several studies show potential benefits in ease in falling asleep, decreasing crying, and increasing pain threshold. One study of 14 ISMs, however raised concern that sound levels of 3 machines exceeded occupational limits and that hearing damage could occur if machines were played for >8 hours.
If ISMs are used, it may be safer to locate them as far away as possible from the infant, set the volume as low as possible, and limit duration of use.”
For all the mamas with multiples, I get it. It can be a HUGE struggle dealing with older kiddos that can be SO so loud during naptime.
Here’s a hack…put a second sound machine outside of your little one’s door during naptime. This acts as another barrier between your sleeping little one and all the other noise that’s going on outside of their room – while also using the sound safely!
6. Keep wake windows around 60 minutes
Try and aim for 45-60 minute wake windows between naps and 1.5-2 hours before bedtime. But remember to always watch for sleepy cues as well.
*Bonus Tip: The 6 S’s
These calming tricks, also known as the 6 S’s are GOLD when you have a fussy baby and/or are trying to get them to sleep.
- Side position
- (Eyebrow) Stroke
Click here to watch a demonstration of each of the 6’s on Instagram.
How do I manage visitors? What does setting boundaries look like?
Having a new baby generally means everyone is excited to mean the new addition. This is TOTALLY understandable, but remember that you get to set and hold your own boundaries.
This may look like:
- Asking people to wash their hands and/or put on a mask before holding your baby
- Ducking out early to avoid overstimulation (and avoid overwhelm for you!)
- Not feeling pressured to engage in conversations about your baby’s sleep or their developmental progress. Sometimes it’s ok to just talk about the weather!
- Saying no. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you don’t want to pass your baby over to someone, or stretch a wake window to participate in an event, etc.
You deserve to enjoy sharing the excitement of your new baby AND still hold boundaries that feel right to you.
And what if YOU are the one visiting a new mama and her baby for the first time? Our instinct is often to go straight to holding the new little one and soaking up all the snuggles. However, some mamas may not be ready to pass their newborn off to someone just yet. I know when I was a new mom, I really just needed support and love.
Click here to watch more tips and learn examples of how you can support a new mama when visiting her and her new baby on Instagram.
How do I adjust to this new stage of motherhood?
Motherhood should be magical. And it IS. But, it’s also a transition that can have ups and downs as we find our groove. The thing is you CAN find your groove and grow through this transition to be better and happier than ever.
My fundamental belief is that YOUR well-being directly impacts the well-being of your children. The very best thing you can do for your children is work on yourself.
So what does it take for a mom to thrive? Here’s the order of operations:
- Getting the sleep you need
- Addressing mental health
- Creating and maintaining healthy relationships
Moms deserve to be happy and thriving and children deserve moms who are happy and thriving!
Click here to watch more about the joy of motherhood on Instagram.
Recap on the First Few Days Home With a Newborn
Those first days home with a newborn come with an entire slew of different emotions! The only thing you need to focus on right now is your recovery and getting to know your baby and their cues. Don’t forget to accept help when it’s offered and ask for help when you need it! You don’t have to go through this stage (or any of the stages) alone. Click here to talk to a sleep expert who can give you any level of support you may need.
In my 0-4 Months Content Library, I walk you through everything you’ll need to know to optimize your newborn’s sleep and prepare for sleep learning at 4 months. And if you haven’t already, download our FREE Newborn Sleep Guide. It’s a great place to start your journey to establishing great sleep for your newborn!