You can’t believe you are actually holding your baby in your arms after you felt them grow inside for so long. You get to feel their skin, gaze into their eyes, feed them, put on those insanely adorable baby clothes you so lovingly picked out, and bask in the glow of motherhood. It can be a magical time. But, it can also be an exhausting time. Your baby is likely feeding around the clock and the concept of days and nights may yet be a foreign thing. Your baby may sleep most of the day and night and you wish they would be awake a little longer. Or, you may have a very curious newborn, who tries to stay awake as much possible, and you may be asking yourself, “How do I get my baby to sleep?” We have you covered new moms and dads. Today we are answering the big question – how do I get my 2, 3, or 4 week old to sleep?
Let’s take a look at the 6 steps to help your 2, 3 or 4 week old baby sleep.
Life with a tiny newborn can be one big roller coaster. They need you 24/7, you likely have a lot of appointments and check-ups to go to, you are working on learning their rhythms, their personality, their preferences, their unique feeding needs, and trying to settle into a loose routine. In addition, you might even have older siblings to tend to, family and friends coming and going, and sleep might feel like a distant dream. But, sleep is very important for you and for your newborn baby. Sleep and rest are important to help mom recover and establish a good milk supply, if you are breastfeeding, and an enormous amount of your newborn’s crucial development happens while they’re asleep! To help you get you and your baby off to the best start possible, let’s review the key steps to getting your 2, 3 or 4 week old to sleep.
How To Get My 2, 3 or 4 Week Old To Sleep At-a-Glance
- Develop a consistent sleep routine
- Review your baby’s schedule
- Consider gentle sleep coaching/training
- Create a sleep plan for your family
- Gather support from your village
- Prepare for the next sleep speedbump
And, now for a few details…
1. Develop a sleep routine for your 2, 3 or 4 week old
Taking a little bit of time to set the environment for sleep is crucial, and part of cuing your baby it’s time for sleep. It may feel a bit silly to do this so soon, especially if your baby is sleeping most of the day. But, it’s never too early to start working on just bedtime, at least, and creating the perfect routine for you and your baby. Plus, it’s a bonus if dad, grandparents and older siblings can be a part of the process, so they learn and enjoy this special time, too. So, if you haven’t started yet, there’s no better time to begin practicing a consistent set of steps you do before bed (and eventually, at each sleep period, including night and at nap times). It is absolutely fine to keep it pretty short at this age. You might say goodnight to everyone, turn down the lights, close curtains, change your baby’s diaper, sing a lullaby, nurse or offer a bottle, cuddle the baby for a few minutes while burping, and then lay your baby down for sleep while saying a key phrase (e.g. “I love you. Time for sleep. Night night.”). As your baby grows it can be wonderful to add a story, for example, but right now it’s best to keep it brief. After all, 3 week old’s have very short periods of wakefulness and it’s important to avoid overtiredness.
2. Review your 2, 3 or 4 week old’s schedule
Having an actual schedule is likely weeks or months away, since we expect your days and nights with your newborn to vary a lot! So, we are not recommending that you have a strict schedule with your baby, right now. But, everything with newborns is connected – feedings and sleep. So, it can be helpful to start thinking of your day in terms of activities and begin laying the foundation for consistency down the line. Your baby’s hormones may not begin to normalize and enable them to stay awake more during the day for another couple of weeks or so, so it’s common to see some confusion still on your baby’s part. This means they may be awake longer during the night than during the day. Although this day/night confusion will typically go away on its own, it can be helpful if you begin to set a more consistent wake-up time, and first nap, for example. Be sure to expose your baby to plenty of light (not direct sunlight) during the day, to help the process out. What might a typical day or schedule look like you ask? Check out our sample schedules here or make your own custom schedule!
3. Consider gentle sleep training (or coaching) for your 2, 3 or 4 week old
If the previous steps haven’t seemed to make much a difference in your 2, 3 or 4 week old’s sleep and you’ve downloaded our free e-Book, 15 Baby Sleep Facts New Parents Need to Know, it’s likely your baby may have some sleep associations that need to be resolved with gentle sleep coaching. Ideally, you’d get a professional assessment of your baby’s sleep challenges, but if you feel certain a dependence on parental help could be part of the issue, then you may want to consider gently sleep coaching your baby towards more independent sleep. This essentially involves helping your baby learn to fall asleep with less help from you – at this age it would be an extremely gradual process and with a lot of reassurance and comfort from you along the way. We expect most babies this age to need significant help going to sleep, but even now, certain habits may be difficult to maintain. This likely means that we may be working toward only minor changes to begin with. But even minor changes can make a big difference for a struggling mom and baby. For example, a common goal at this stage may be that you are trying to help your baby learn to fall asleep while in his bassinet for some sleep periods, rather than being held by you or sleeping on you for all of their sleep times. It can be hard to hold a newborn to sleep all day when you have an active older sibling, as an example. Given your baby’s age and our experience, however, we do feel strongly this should be done using a very hands-on, gentle sleep coaching method which limits crying.
Not sure where to begin? Check out Gentle Sleep Training Explained + 5 Strategies
4. Create a plan for your 2, 3 or 4 week old
If gentle sleep training is something you are considering, it will be important to figure out what to do next. Some of us are planners and others do fine just jumping in. If you are not a planner, you can certainly skip this step, but newborn parents are usually so exhausted and overwhelmed, that maybe a plan is just the ticket. After all, it’s hard to know how to get to where you’re going without a travel plan. Make the plan as detailed as you want it, but having a step-by-step plan helps you stay on track, committed, and consistent. Remember that things are not likely to go very quickly at this age, so it’s important to take it one step at a time, but not lose sight of your overall goals. Not sure where to begin or need help creating your baby’s sleep plan? Consider making your own sleep plan or letting us create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for you and your baby.
5. Get support for your 2, 3 or 4 week old’s parents (you!)
We always hear that “it takes a village” to raise a child, but gone seem to be the days where we have a lot of help nurturing our babies (and ourselves!). I don’t know about you, but my mom came out for only one week when my first baby was a newborn, and that was about it. My husband and I were largely on our own. No Aunts to regularly hold the baby while I took a nap or enjoyed a (hopefully hot) meal. So, getting through lack of sleep during this 2, 3 or 4 week old period can be tough without much support. We sometimes have to recruit our own village. Consider hiring a sleep consultant or asking your partner, friends, or family members to help you implement your sleep plan. Having a support system in place can make all the difference in the world in reaching your sleep goals!
6. Prepare for your 2, 3 or 4 week old’s next speedbump
Whether you’ve already made some progress getting your 2, 3 or 4 week old to sleep a little better, or you’re just starting on your journey to better baby sleep, it’s important to keep in mind what’s coming next. Why? Because babies are growing and changing at an incredible rate! Every day your newborn is likely to surprise you. So be prepared and make sure you plan ahead, and have a game plan in place, before the next sleep challenge emerges. Around 6 weeks your baby is likely to go through a growth spurt, and at 3 to 4 months old your baby may begin to experience their first sleep regression. What’s a “sleep regression” you ask? Now is also the time to start thinking about how you’ll help your baby through any potential setbacks (teething, travel, and illness are BIG ones!) – sometimes the key to overcoming or even avoiding setbacks is knowing when they are likely to happen, what is happening when you experience a sleep change, and having a game plan in place for how you’ll get through them!