We are often asked for advice, and we have plenty! No shortage of opinions here. We were recently asked for our favorite advice specifically for new parents. Here are our responses. Share your own advice in our comments section!
Your baby isn’t born knowing how to sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night is an acquired skill, one we need to teach our children, once they are old enough (4-6 months or more). What exactly is sleep teaching? Our recent blog outlines the basics. The most important factor in sleep teaching is consistency. There are many methods you could use, but the key is to find the one that you can use consistently.
We believe strongly that babies sleep much better when they are swaddled. Melissa and I read the book by Dr. Karp called Happiest Baby on the Block (and watched the amazing DVD) and found that Dr. Karp’s advice for soothing newborns was very helpful and holds true for all the babies with whom we have worked.
Babies feel calmer when they are in an environment that mimics the womb – dark, cool, noisy, and confined! Babies have a very strong startle reflex (the Morrow Reflex) and when they are swaddled, this reflex is dampened. When they are not, they wake frequently and are, well, startled! We believe that these wakings are unnecessary. Swaddling is the solution.
My daughter is now four months old and she is my second. My older daughter is five years old, so it has been a while since I’ve been through this! Here are the things that I have found most important and helpful:
Up until 10 weeks, do whatever you can to get you and the baby as much sleep as you can. Don’t worry about “spoiling” him or creating bad habits at this age! Rest is the most important foundation. That goes for new moms too. Ask for help and take a nap whenever you can.
After 10 weeks, start putting the baby down for naps in her crib in a dark room with white noise. Dark rooms make all the difference – I’m a fan of contractor bags and painters tape; it’s not pretty but it’s cheap and easy!