Finding Rest During the Newborn Days

Mother and newborn baby boy sleeping, lying on bed together during a day, covered with blankets

Finding Rest During the Newborn Days

Nothing is more amazing than the moment you see your baby’s face for the first time. The joy, excitement and love that overcome you make it feel like you are literally on top of the world! It isn’t until you get home where the doubts, fear and overwhelming feelings begin to kick in. Suddenly, you are responsible for this tiny, helpless being . . . who won’t sleep! You are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And you start to wonder how you will ever find rest during these seemingly endless newborn days.

Unfortunately, nothing can prepare you for how hard, exhausting, lonely and overwhelming motherhood can be. There are levels of tired no one can accurately describe. The good news is that you are not alone, and the way you’re feeling is very normal. And I am here to tell you that you are doing great and that these hard moments won’t last forever.

As a mom of three little ones (6 years, 4 years and 2 years) I have experienced first-hand MANY exhausting moments. As a Certified Sleep Consultant, I have worked with hundreds of families who are experiencing exhausting moments themselves. We all go through really hard times on our parenting journey and that is okay. I always tell my fellow moms that it is okay to NOT be okay! One of my favorite quotes is “we are wired to do hard things.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t get some help and advice along the way.

How to Find Rest During the Newborn Days

Throughout my own motherhood journey, I became very passionate about sleep and how it impacts a family’s well-being. My first-born was 11 months old before he slept his first EVER 2-hour stretch. So I think it was fair to say that becoming obsessed with sleep was bound to happen during that time. To me, healthy sleep is not about perfection, but balance.

SPOILER: There is no such thing as perfect sleep!

During the early months you go from superhuman hormones from delivering your baby to the adrenaline wearing off and you being left feeling exhausted. Although it is normal for the early months to be tiring, I want to share some information and tips that will help you with sleep through the first 4 months with your baby. There are things you can do to help!

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Give yourself and your baby a break by setting up realistic expectations. Your baby is brand new and will wake frequently during the first 4 months. Feeding your baby every 1-4 hours is within a normal range during the newborn stage. Every baby is different of course but if your baby is within these ranges just know that is normal!

2. Create an Ideal Sleep Environment

The sleep environment is a great place to start right from day 1 to help you and your newborn get more sleep. The focus here is remembering that your baby was just born and came out of the home they have known for their whole life. The best way to help your baby feel at “home” is to set up cues that mimic the womb.

  • Have a darker space. This helps to eliminate light stimulation that they are not used to which can keep them more relaxed. Have a soft light to use when feeding at night.
  • Use white noise. White noise helps to mimic the sounds of the womb. Use a sound that is constant and continuous such as white noise setting, vacuum sound, heavy rainfall, etc. This can feel familiar to the sounds of blood flow while in utero. Stay away from waves, lullabies or thunderstorms which are inconsistent sounds.

3. Work on the Timing of Sleep

Overstimulation is a big cause of disrupted sleep or troubles calming your baby to help them to sleep. Throughout the first 3-4 months you don’t have to stress about setting up a consistent schedule quite yet because their body isn’t completely ready for that until 4 months. Instead, use their cues and healthy awake times to help your baby stay rested and not get overtired.

  • If your baby is showing they are tired, then try and help them to sleep right away. It is better to try and catch them before these strong tired signs if you can. Some families notice that their baby shows strong tired signs at the 1-hour mark and so at the 45-minute mark start your routine and this can make it easier for them to drift off.
  • If your baby takes short naps (under 60 minutes) but doesn’t show a lot of tired signs then you can use the method “duration of last sleep” to determine their next sleeping period. This is ONLY if they sleep for under 60 minutes. Whatever the duration they slept would be how long they would be awake for before the next little nap. If they slept for 45 minutes then I would aim for them to be asleep in 45 minutes again. This can actually keep them from getting overtired and encourage longer naps!

4. Work on Soothing your Baby

Always trust your instincts with your baby! They are there for a reason. It can be very frustrating when your baby is fussy and won’t get comfortable or calm down. Using Dr. Karp’s calming reflex theory can really help. You try and replicate the womb with a series of actions to calm your baby.

Swaddle Image

  • Swaddle. This helps to keep your baby feeling wrapped in a hug like when in the womb.
  • Side Lying. Hold your baby against you heart to heart or stomach to stomach in a side lying position. This helps them feel close to you.
  • Shushing. Your personal white noise. Shush as loud as your babies crying if you can. As they calm you can decrease the volume of shushing to help continue to calm your baby.
  • Swinging. Rock your baby back and forth in your arms to mimic the motion in the womb. Using a swing works also if your baby likes the swing! Using a jiggly motion often works best!
  • Sucking. This replicates the swallowing of amniotic fluid while in the womb. Use your breast, bottle or pacifier to help calm your baby.

The key is to combine 3 or more of these tools to calm your baby!

5. Establish Routines Early

Setting up routines can help you and your baby feel more consistent throughout your day.  Babies can’t tell time and so routines act as their clock letting their body know it is supposed to be sleeping soon.

Naptime Routine

Naptime Routine

Bedtime Routine

Bedtime Routine Image

The early months are tough, but you got this mama! Try and soak up every moment and each night just know that tomorrow is a new day. Babies don’t come with a manual, but they do have YOU! You are just what your baby needs and your baby is just what you need. You are doing great and I hope that some of these tips help you find rest during these newborn days.

About the Author /

Hailee Schollaardt a Certified Sleep Consultant and the owner/founder of Nurturing Sleep Solutions Infant + Child Sleep Consulting. Hailee's journey of Sleep Consulting began after having a very hard time with her first child. It was not until then she realized how much sleep has an impact on a family’s overall well-being. Hailee was inspired to help other families avoid and get out of similar sleep situations with their children. Hailee is married to her high school sweetheart and they have 3 wonderful, busy, crazy, kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. Hailee loves talking about real motherhood and has a passion for sleep!

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When I had my first baby, everyone told me to enjoy the newborn stage because it goes fast, and I would miss it. But I was so exhausted and overwhelmed I didn’t believe them. 😴 While I was living through it, it felt like it took forever!⁠
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If you are there now or about to enter this stage, it’s a yummy, delicious, snuggly stage. But for me, it has always been one of the harder ones, every time I go through it. So I see and feel you, mama! It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Hold tight, though, because it doesn’t last forever.⁠
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4️⃣ Be patient. I know as a Dad the first few weeks we are equally excited and yet not as important. Your time will come faster than you know. Babies grow fast and the stronger and bigger they get the more Daddy Time will be coming your way.⁠
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5️⃣ Paternity leave! If you have it TAKE IT. The early stages of a child's life are not just for moms to enjoy. I know as men making the money especially after having a baby it's hard, but trust me. You can always make money but there are no instant replays in life. It doesn't make you more of a man to not take the leave. It's equally as important that you as a Dad get to be a part of the early development of your child. ⁠
If someone needs this info tag them ❤️⁠
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Absolutely love these tips from @chroniclesofdaddy. 🙌
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1️⃣ Look for signs of readiness:⁠
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Potty training is much quicker if your child is showing the above signs, but you can start before this.⁠
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2️⃣ What you will need to buy:⁠
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3️⃣ Getting yourself and your child prepared:⁠
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- Sit your child on the potty at every diaper change, first thing in the morning and just before bed to get them used to sitting on the toilet.⁠
- Teach your child the correct vocabulary or signs needed to communicate when they need to go potty.⁠
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4️⃣ Let's get toilet trained:⁠
- Get your child to choose a pair of underwear and put them on.⁠
- Talk to them about using the toilet and communicating when they need to pee or poo. You can sit them on the toilet at this point if you wish.⁠
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(Continue reading in the comments!)
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You are the reason I get up each morning.⁠
Even though my eyelids are as heavy as a five-ton truck.⁠
Even though all I want is to sleep in, a coffee and breakfast in bed.⁠
You are more important.⁠
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Even though I am a size bigger than I used to be.⁠
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Even though I know it won't change anything.⁠
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You are the reason I am now filled with gratitude.⁠
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You are the reason that my heart is full.⁠
Even though I am grateful for our life before you.⁠
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You are my reason." ❤️ Words by @hangingwiththeheaphys 💕⁠
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Here are some fun and unique pregnancy announcement ideas for you to share your incredible news. Whether you like to use humor, romance, or a sweet surprise, these ideas are some of the most picture-worthy around!⁠ ⁠{Click 🔗 in bio to see the pregnancy announcement ideas!⁠}⁠
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I am a big advocate for breastfeeding. There are s I am a big advocate for breastfeeding. There are so many AMAZING benefits for the mother and child. But you know what I am an even bigger advocate for? A mother's well-being -- her physical, emotional, and mental health!!⁠
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Sometimes we make plans and God laughs. Some of us plan to breastfeed our babies for 3 months, 6 months, a year, 2 years. Some of us meet our goals and some of us don't. (🙋‍♀️ My goal was to reach a year and made it 7 months.) Breastfeeding can be a lot more challenging than many of us expect. There can be complications along the way, the baby could have allergies, and sometimes breastfeeding or pumping can take an immense toll on a mother's mental health.⁠
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It is my firm belief that we must care for and support the new mother just as much as we care for and support the new child. 💕 While I feel there is so much value in breast milk, in my opinion, if it compromises the health of the mother, it is not worth it. As long as the baby is being fed, cared for, and loved, that is all that matters. And for the mother to grow and thrive in her new role as a parent to continue caring for her child, she needs to do what she feels is best for herself and her family. Sometimes that is not breastfeeding or pumping.⁠
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No matter your feeding experience or preference, you are a good mother. Whether your choice was made by you or made for you, you must do what is right for you and your baby. Your health (mentally, physically, emotionally) matters. ❤️
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Being a full-time, stay-at-home mom of small children is a lot like being the CEO of a corporation. But without anyone working under you and without receiving payment for your efforts. Kinda crazy when you think of it like that, huh?⁠
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I smile as I write this, but that feeling was sometimes true for me. Of course, there are different ways to frame our choices as mothers. Such as looking at stay-at-home-motherhood through the lens of sheer fulfillment that comes from spending quality time with your kids and teaching them the ways of life. For me, what I eventually realized after my second child was born was that I needed to create a lifestyle that filled in the gaps where I felt something was missing. Specifically, I needed someone to help me manage my kids and my household. And I needed to be earning some money myself.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading this mom's story!⁠}⁠
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Pretty much what summer is going to be like. 🤦‍♀️😑⁠
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