We’ll reveal the biggest secret discussed on today’s podcast right at the top: each baby is different. When it comes to sleep, what may work for one might not work for another, even for babies within the same family! That is what our guest today, Valerie Groysman, discovered with her own two babies as well as by counselling hundreds of families.
Valerie is a Registered Social Worker, M.S.W, R.S.W and Infant + Child Mental Health Specialist whose own journey with infant and toddler sleep led her to build her own business, Talkin’ Sleep. She seeks to find sleep solutions for families based on science, connection and intuition, offering alternatives to more traditional sleep training and crying methods. Keep reading to learn her Top 5 Newborn Sleep Tips and be sure to tune in to the podcast for a lot more great advice around newborn sleep!
Not all cries are the same. Listening and watching your baby, you will learn that while they may sound similar, your baby is giving you different cues - they will behave differently when they are getting tired, versus when they are hungry, or want to play. But don’t despair, learning these cues takes time and a lot of trial and error! And when your baby keeps crying, that’s not a sign of failure - they are telling you to keep trying.
Feeling connected to your baby before sleep will help them go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer as your baby adjusts to the new world around them. When you think about most babies' life progression thus far, their first home was inside your belly and the next, closest place of comfort is on your body where they can hear your breathing and are close to their foodsource. If they are refusing to sleep independently or in a bassinet, this is not a failure on your part. Try to recreate a comforting experience for them through human connection and touch.
This one may come as a surprise - babies spend a lot of time in active sleep. They can be rolling around, babbling, chatting, moaning, pumping their fists, and even opening and closing their eyes all while they’re completely asleep! These behaviours may indicate to you that they are awake which can be disorienting, especially if you are bed sharing or co-sleeping, so try to discern if they are truly awake before you worry about putting them back to sleep.
If your baby wakes up from a nap and they’re still upset or fussy, it is okay to put them back to sleep. You are not undermining their own ability to extend their naps by helping them back to sleep, as some literature may suggest. In fact, you’re helping them adjust to extended naps by preventing them from getting overtired which can upset a more regulated sleep cycle.
Here is something a lot of parents don’t like to hear - there is no such thing as a magical sleep answer for every baby. When trying to find the right solution, it’s important to consider yourself, your baby, their age and any other circumstances that may be unique to your situation. For example, if you are trying to transition your baby to sleeping in a crib, consider your motivation for doing so, what their experience with the crib has been so far, who your baby is, what they need, etc. Perhaps your baby may prefer taking naps in a carrier while you do some chores if they crave a bit more of that human connection. There is not one solution that fits all, and no definitive “correct” way to go about it.
Finding connection and peacefulness around sleep with your newborn can be a great form of quality time and set the tone in your relationship going forward. It takes some trial and error, and as always, patience with your baby - and yourself! Be prepared to share responsibilities. Making a sleep plan in advance of baby’s arrival can be hugely helpful, beginning these conversations and setting boundaries and intentions with you and your partner before you are sleep deprived and scrambling for solutions!
Check-out the She Found Motherhood Newborn Sleep 101 Course to help create a sleep plan in advance and allow you to be ready for when the baby comes!
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