5 Facts You Should Know About Newborn Sleep

After I delivered my firstborn, I received around-the-clock attention from doctors and nurses. But, when it was time to leave the hospital and go home, I remember asking my favorite nurse, "Will you come home with me?" and I truly meant it!

I had so many questions and I was overwhelmed by my lack on answers.

One of the most pressing questions with a new baby is how to handle sleep. Everyone has heard stories about how once you have a baby, you will never sleep again, among many other myths and wives' tales about infant sleep. As a child sleep consultant, and a mom who chose to prioritize sleep, I discovered that sleep is a learned skill.

Here are some facts about sleep that can help you navigate this new world:

Fact #1: Newborns should NOT be sleeping through the night.
A newborn's circadian rhythm* is not developed, nor are their stomachs large enough to go without eating for more than a few hours at a time. It is completely normal for your baby to have his days and nights confused and to sleep/wake in frequent but random patterns. To help them develop this rhythm, you can start to organize their sleep by keeping it light during the day and by maintaining normal household volume; while keeping it dark and minimizing activity during nightly feedings and diaper changes.

*Circadian rhythm: The physical, mental, and behavioral changes that roughly follow a 24-hour cycle, and respond mainly to light and darkness.

Fact #2: Newborns do NOT have the skills to self-soothe or cope. They must learn these skills from their parent(s) or guardian.
Newborn babies don't have many ways to communicate with us, so they typically cry when they need something or are unhappy. They also spent the last 38-40ish weeks being cuddled and rocked to sleep. Meeting your baby's needs by creating a routine that includes holding, comforting, feeding, and placing her on her back to sleep will make her feel secure and happy so she can continue to develop properly and will eventually learn healthy sleep habits on her own.

Fact #3: Newborns need A LOT of sleep.
New babies need 16-20 hours of sleep each day. This sleep starts off as approximately two-hour stretches followed by 30-60-minute periods of being awake. As baby grows and develops in the first six months of life, the frequency of waking and sleep will slow and baby will spend longer stretches during the day awake, and longer stretches at night asleep. 
Eventually, baby will stay awake most of the day with a few naps in between and will stay mostly asleep throughout the night with a few short periods of being awake.

Fact #4: Babies show cues and meet sleep milestones that can help you establish routines.
Between the ages of 6-8 weeks, baby begins to show more signs of being aware of his surroundings, and has begun to learn facial expressions along with other social cues. Watching for these things can help you determine what your baby's needs are. Around this age is a good time to establish consistent routines surrounding bedtime such as putting baby to bed at the same time each night.

Fact #5: Every baby is different and we can help you navigate what works best for your family.
Despite the facts about sleep it is important to understand that every baby is different! Every baby reaches milestones at different times and every baby needs different things from their parent(s) or guardian. Our individualized sleep consulting services will instill confidence in you and help you to learn to read you baby's cues while also establishing some solid routines that work best for your baby, and your family.

***Stay tuned for an announcement about our NEW newborn sleep class that is scheduled launched early this summer!***

As a mom of four children, I too went through these struggles and found myself unsure and worried at times. With the right tools and support, I was able to find a solution that works best for our family, and I am confident you will too. If you find yourself needing some extra support, knowledge, and guidance, please don't hesitate to reach out as I would love to help.

Authored by: Audrey McCoy, Certified Child Sleep Consultant- SleepWell Baby
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach


For more information about the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) safe sleep recommendations click HERE
To schedule a FREE 15-minute phone consult with Audrey McCoy, please contact her at
audrey@sleepwellbaby.ca

Anxiety, OCD, and Depression; OH MY!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is my story:

THE EARLY YEARS
I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. When I was in kindergarten my godmother would say, “Victoria is 5 going on 40”. In middle school I probably skipped a day every two weeks. High school was filled with panic attacks, migraines, and compulsions. Items had to be placed in certain places. I had the same spot every time I sat on the couch. The volume for anything had to be a multiple of 5, even if that made it too quiet or too loud. I could only turn to the left when I parked my car.

Oh, I was also scratching. My mom would catch me and tell me to stop. I would just nod; I COULDN’T STOP. I spent high school with scratches on my arms, hands, legs, and feet. People would ask what happened and I would honestly tell them “I don’t know.”

GOING TO COLLEGE
High school graduation came and I thought I could just leave everything that happened in high school behind; the behaviors, the panic attacks, the scratching. However, my freshman year of college was rough. I chalked it up to being homesick and adjusting to a new place but that’s probably not what it was.

When my grandpa passed away with six weeks left of the school year, any semblance of control I had over my life disappeared. My first year advisor scheduled an appointment for me with the campus counselor. 

We talked about everything that had happened over the last five years – from behaviors to anxiety to panic attacks, we covered it all. By the end of the school year, 6 weeks later, I thought I was in a good place. I still had behaviors and migraines, but otherwise I was good.

SOPHOMORE YEAR
Right before returning to school I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. At first I didn’t think this would have anything to do with my mental health but after eating gluten free for a while I felt great. Little to no behaviors. No panic attacks. No migraines. It was like I found a miracle cure.

But we all know miracle cures aren’t real. By the time I actually was wrapped up in classes and a social life, the panic attacks and behaviors returned. I tried to ignore them for a long time (7 months, to be exact). However, one morning I woke up hyperventilating and sobbing. I reached for my phone and emailed my professors to let them know I would not be in class that day. 
I looked at my legs and saw what looked like claw marks running from my ankles to my thighs. I knew then that I was approaching rock bottom. While I stayed in bed all day I also called my doctor back home. I was supposed to go home in just a couple weeks and we set up an appointment.

MEDS
I had fought any sort of diagnosis, and therefore treatment, for years. I was convinced that everything would just go away if I did the right things. If I ate right, and exercised, and did fun things with friends, and saw a therapist I could be “cured”. For some people, those are viable treatment options. However, I recognized that I needed something more. This was serious.
My doctor and I talked about all the symptoms I had exhibited over the years. She finally decided that it was most important to treat the compulsions. We discussed various medications and finally settled on one that was meant for OCD but would also help with my anxiety and depression.

WHERE AM I NOW?
It’s been almost three years since that eventful morning when I reached rock bottom and I’ve come a long way. I can’t say that it’s been an easy journey, because it definitely hasn’t been. I’ve been on and off the medicine more times than I can count over the years, never at the discretion of a doctor but always because I hated being sick. I’m currently not on medicine and I feel great. I’ve learned my triggers. I’ve built a support system.

It took me a long time to realize that I needed help, and even though I had people who tried to get me help along the way. I wasn’t able to take that final step until I recognized it myself. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed or like you are reaching rock bottom, I urge you to reach out and let at least one person know what you are going through. You are not alone.

Authored by: Victoria Cartland
Edited by: Kaity Klotzbach

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