Self-Care is a Must for New Parents: Here’s How to Fit It In

Guest Blog Contribution by, Ashley Taylor (disabledparents.org)

As a new parent, your days are occupied with everything you do to care for someone else. So, it makes sense that you would forget to care for yourself along the way. However, self-care is not just an option for new parents. It is a necessity for keeping yourself healthy and your mood balanced, but how can you fit self-care into a schedule that is already full of diaper changes and feedings? Its much easier if you keep these helpful tips in mind.

 

Keep Your Home Calm and Clutter Free

You’re likely to spend a lot of time at home after your baby is born. So, you need to make sure your home is as stress-free as possible. If you have some time, try to get rid of any clutter and get ach room in your home organized. Since sleep is important for stress management too, you need to make sure your bedroom is an ideal spot for you to rest and relax. As you prepare your bedroom, keep in mind that your infant will need to sleep in your room at least the first four months. However, you should come up with a plan to help your baby settle into a seperate room after those first few months. Transitioning babies to their own rooms after four months may help them sleep longer, which will help you get better sleep too. You will want to find a good spot for the bassinet or crib that will still keep the room comfortable. Also, Make sure the room and your babys cribare both accessible for you and your partner.

 

Ask for Help from Your Family and Friends

Sleep is the most basic self-care you can get as a new parent, but you still need other self-care as well. You can easily squeeze self-care into even a busy schedule. But you may need to ask for help to do so. If a friend offers help or asked what they can do, suggest spending some time with your new baby so you can take a walk, take a bath, or simply grab a quick nap. Just be sure that the person you are asking is comfortable caring for your little one, and don’t be afraid to provide them with some basic infant first aid tips. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency will give your friends and loved ones some piece of mind, and you will stress less too. Another way that friends and family members can take the pressure off of new parents is by providing meals. There are several online meal sharing sites that make it easy for people to coordinate meals and drop-offs during those first few weeks that your infant is home.

 

Reach Out to Professionals for Help When Needed

Getting friends and loved ones to help with your baby is a good way to sneak in some self-care. However, if you or your partner is living with a disability, you need to be extra careful to avoid any added stress during this time. If your disabiltiy is accompanied by chronic pain, being stressed or anxious will only make that pain worse. You need to find better ways to cope with the stresses of being a new parent, and that could mean hiring people to help out. While you may not be able to afford a full - time nanny, hiring a night nanny may give you extra relief you need. These professionals can come in a help through the evening hours, which is when new parents oftern need the most help. Your night nanny can show you how to feed and care for your child but can also tend to your baby while you get some needed sleep. If you do hire a nanny be sure to research pay requirements before hiring. You should try to stick with average local rates and stay within tax rules to avoid future costs or pentalties. Caring for an infant is so much hard work but that doesn’t mean you should sacrafice your self-care. You and your partner need to take time to care for yourselves. Create that extra time in your busy day, its the only way to thrive as new parents.

Calming A Crying Baby

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Photo Curdosy of Pixaby

Babies cry and some more than others and there are several reasons why! The hard part is since babies cannot speak to express themselves there is no way to tell exactly what they are crying about. This is why people often say babies don’t come with an instruction manual! Good thing is these days we have the internet and years of techniques and trials and errors to successfully identify and soothe an upset child.


Why Babies Cry


Hunger - Most common reason a baby cries

Try offering food or beverage first

Exhaustion - If baby’s sleep schedule is off they might show signs of being tired through crying

Try putting baby down to rest

Uncomfortable - Baby could be physically uncomfortable

Check  to make sure baby isn’t too hot or cold and isn’t sitting or lying uncomfortably

Frustrated - Sometimes babies become frustrated if their needs aren’t being met

Check off some of the other causes in this list to soothe frustrations

Lonely - If your baby is comfortable being held or rocked they might get lonely when put down.

Try putting a piece of your clothing with your scent safely next to your baby to help them feel you are there

Relieve Stress - Sometimes babies just cry to relieve stress

Try baby message or humming to help baby through the stressful moments



What to do


Rock-a-bye Baby

Rock baby in your arms or in a baby rocker (Favorite Baby Rocker (MamaRoo)


Sing

I love to hum “You are my sunshine” to calm babies


Walk

Baby might need a change of scenery so get up and walk around and if weather permits go outside for some fresh air


Swaddle

Swaddling a baby helps mimic mommys comfy womb

Not sure how to swaddle a baby? Thats okay try this baby swaddling tutorial to get inspired!


Get Out

If calming at home doesn’t seem to be working try taking baby on a car or stroller ride around the block.


Make Noise

My grandmother always told me to vacuum while a baby is sleeping, it sounds crazy I know but something about consistent loud noise does wonders for calming babies


Dime the lights

If your baby is sensitive to light at first, it makes perfect sense considering they are new to this bright world! Try dimming the lights or taking the baby into a dark room to soothe.


Bounce

Medium sized exercise balls work great. Not to mention it doubles as a light workout. Make sure baby is secured to you perhaps in a baby carrier or securely in your arms and bounce away until baby calms.


Pacifier

Offering a baby the pacifier should be the last resort as some babies might get confused between the pacifier and nipple especially if you find you are having any troubles breastfeeding


The 5 S’s  

You can also try These 5 techniques from Harvey Karp on soothing babies!

1. Shushing

2. Side-Lying

3. Swaddling

4. Sucking (pacifier or pinky)

5. Swinging (in the swing or in your arms)


PRO MOM TIP

Wear Ear Plugs! Not I am not kidding!

If you find you feel overwhelmed with cries, it helps to wear ear plugs to help ease your stress and make it easier to calm your baby!


Happy Soothing


Preparing For Parenthood: Tips For Parents With Disabilities

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Photo via Pixabay by Skalekar1992


Preparing your life and home for a new child isn’t a task to be taken lightly; there’s a lot of planning involved, preparations to make, and worries to handle. For many new parents, the thought of making such serious changes to their lifestyle is stressful because they don’t want to make any mistakes. Every parent wants a perfect environment for their little one to grow up in.


For those parents who are living with a disability, it can be difficult to make some of those changes simply because they have specific needs that have to be considered. If you have mobility concerns, for instance, figuring out the best way to handle all those nightly feedings and changings can bring anxiety. The best way to reduce those feelings is to start with a good plan for your little one while keeping your needs in mind. Make safety modifications as needed to your home, and consider small ways you can change your lifestyle that will benefit you in the long run.


Keep reading for some great tips on how to prepare your life and home for a new baby.


Childproof your home


One task that will give you peace of mind early on is childproofing. There are many ways this can be done, so it’s best to do a bit of research to find out what you might need for your home. It’s easy for many parents to put this off because they know their infant won’t be thinking about getting into kitchen cabinets, but time flies, and before you know it, your tiny bundle of joy will be crawling. Start in the rooms you know you’ll be using the most; the living room, for instance, should have electrical outlet covers and anti-tipping devices on pieces of furniture. The kitchen should have child locks on every cabinet and drawer, and you might also check to see if the knobs on your stove are removable. Here are more great tips on how to make your home safe, and keep in mind that if you can’t do it all yourself, there are people you can hire to help. Just make sure they are a member of the International Association for Child Safety.


Prepare the nursery


It’s important to think about what will make your life easier once the baby comes. If he’ll be sleeping in a bassinet in your bedroom at first, create a small station near your bed that can hold extra diapers and wipes, burp cloths, bottles, and anything else you might need in the middle of the night. If you’ll be breastfeeding, it’s also a good idea to keep a large refillable bottle of water nearby so you stay hydrated.


The nursery should be a comfortable space for both you and the baby. You might include a soft chair that will help you rock him back to sleep, or invest in a crib that will allow you to change the height of the mattress as the baby grows so you’ll always have easy access to him.


Relax


It’s important to learn how to relax, breathe deeply, and feel confident in your abilities before the baby comes. This will help reduce stress and will allow you to enjoy your time with your child. Consider trying yoga and/or meditation, which can help boost your mental health and will give you the chance to focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or future.


Preparing for parenthood comes with a lot to think about, but it doesn’t have to be a time for anxiety. Start with a good plan, and talk to your family and loved ones about what your needs are so they can be of help when you need it.

Guest Blog Contribution: Ashley Taylor disabledparents.org

Why You Should Create a Solid Financial Plan When Expecting Your First Child

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A first child comes with many new responsibilities. Some are more daunting than others, but there is no reason you can’t start tackling them now. One of the most important things to get under control as soon as possible is your finances. Coming up with a financial plan before the baby arrives is the best time to do it.  

Planning Ahead

 

Between setting up the nursery, buying baby supplies, and attending various doctor’s visits, it’s easy to let financial planning fall by the wayside. However, once the baby arrives, it will be even farther from your mind. According to Parents Magazine, most couples who don’t plan ahead run into financial issues around six months after the baby is born.

 

This can lead to significant amounts of stress and cause serious relationship issues. Financial stress has been known to take a toll on mental health. It can also lead to depression and anxiety that affects your physical health. That’s why the best time to come up with a plan is before the child arrives. Proper money management and solid financial health can relieve stress and anxiety and promote happiness. Plus, you can head into parenthood knowing you’ve got your ducks in a row.

 

Find a New Budget

 

The cornerstone of any financial plan is creating a budget. Children are expensive. On top of the larger one-time purchases such as cribs and strollers, you have to account for diapers, clothing, daycare and maybe even formula. Then as they grow, their needs will change and so will your expenses. Time magazine found that the average cost of raising a child to age 17 is $14,000 yearly. Start keeping track of your spending. This helps you to see where you can make cuts to allow for these new costs.

 

There are many hidden costs in owning a home, so you should also think about where your home fits into your budget. If your home is too expensive, you may need to downsize. Consider using a home cost calculator to work the numbers.   

 

Beef Up Your Savings

 

Most money experts will encourage you to have three to six months worth of savings in your emergency fund. This money exists should anything unexpected happen such as job loss or a hefty medical bill. Even if you are the type of person who is on top of their savings, remember that a child will add new monthly expenses. To account for this, the best time to add money to your savings is before they are born.

 

Get Your Estate in Order

 

However unpleasant it is to think about, you need to plan for the worst. In the unlikely event that something happens to you or your spouse, you can take comfort in knowing your child is taken care of. Before the baby comes is the perfect time to look at your assets and decide how you would like to distribute them. It is also the time to decide who would take guardianship of your child in the worst-case scenario. This will save your family a lot of heartache from fighting over your estate and you can have a peace of mind knowing your child will be okay.

 

The New York Times also encourages parents to take a look at their assigned beneficiaries. In many states, certain accounts will distribute to the beneficiary even if it’s noted otherwise in your will. Now is the perfect time to update your accounts.

 

Plan for Their Future

 

Truly savvy financial planners look farther ahead than the next month and even the next year. They’re planning for the long-term. It’s never too early to start saving for your child's college. Consider opening up a college savings plan in their name as soon as possible. These are designed to ensure money goes directly toward your child’s future education. It will help them avoid missing out on financial aid and owing thousands of dollars in student loans.

 

Do Not Forget Your Future

 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in spending all your money on your child. Resist this urge. There is no reason to spend everything on them now if they are going to end up supporting you in your retirement. Keep putting money toward your retirement plan. This will save everyone a lot of stress and future arguments if you are able to support yourself into your golden years.

 

Getting Your Finances in Order

 

As excited as you may be when you are expecting your first child, there will inevitably be a slow creep of stress as the weight of your new responsibilities hits you. Getting your finances under control ahead of time will significantly relieve this. It’s never too early or too late to start planning. The sooner you start, the less stressed you will be.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Guest Blog Contribution dadsolo.com

Postpartum Depression Awareness

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In May we celebrate all Mother's for Mother's Day but May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. To help with this movement the following information is provided to help raise awareness of postpartum and maternal mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that roughly 1 in 10 woman in the U.S. alone suffer from symptoms of depression. Here is some information on some of the causes, symptoms and resources to get support if you think you or someone else might be experiencing Postpartum Depression. Hormones 

We all know that with pregnancy and post pregnancy comes several physical changes and one thing that could be the leading cause of postpartum depression is HORMONES! In an article about What happens to your hormones after having a baby Dr. Lucy Hooper states that one of the things that happens immediately after childbirth is the birth of the placenta and this causes the body to experience a sudden decrease in estrogen and progesterone levels . This can cause all kinds of physical changes like hair loss and mood swings. This sudden change can cause women to feel overwhelmed and experience low self esteem and breast feeding can prolong these effects. Hormone changes are not the only cause of postpartum woes so pay attention to other things such as suspected domestic violence or other traumatic experiences and don't be afraid to speak up and seek support.

The Signs

It is common for a postpartum mother to experience some type of sadness following childbirth. However, if this lasts more than two weeks you should look for the Early Warning Signs of Postpartum Depression. If you think you might be experiencing something more serious don't be afraid to express yourself. There are several resources to help and it's important to pay attention to your personal mental health but also the health and wellness of your new baby and your family. New father's can suffer from depression as well especially if the mother is suffering and causing a strain on the entire home environment. If you don't know where to start try taking this Quiz to see how you are feeling. Common symptoms include severe mood swings, excessive crying and trouble bonding with your new baby.

Get Help 

If you find that you are suffering from any of the common symptoms you should seek support right away. Try talking to a family member or close friend and contact your doctor for a screening. The support of others often helps us realize that things are not as terrible as they may seem. Focusing on your personal overall health is something that often gets set aside once all the needs of the new baby start, so try to take time to yourself often. If you do not feel like you have someone close enough to talk to you can seek support through other outlets. Postpartum Support International or PSI has a ton of useful information and a helpline. Try to remember to take time for yourself and ask for help when needed. The saying "It Takes A Village" is the truth and caring for your new baby doesn't have to leave you feeling miserable.

 

 

New Parent? Don’t Forget That Self-Care Is Essential for You and Baby!

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New parents can easily get caught up in the to-do lists, diaper changes, feeding schedule, and everything else that comes with having a newborn in the house. But you have to remember that self-care benefits both you and your baby. Here’s advice on the importance of self-care when you’re a new parent.

Putting Yourself First

As a new parent, you realize that suddenly your world is both smaller and bigger all at once. This brand-new life becomes your focus and your entire universe, and you want to protect your new baby. But that little addition to the family is going to take a lot out of you, and you've got to take the time to replenish your own resources, or you won't be able to give your baby everything they need. According to Parents magazine, you need to maintain a balanced life to maintain a joyful life.

It's extremely hard for parents to put themselves first, or even to think of their own needs, but you have to take the time every day to do this. Don't forget to take care of yourself physically by

eating right, getting rest, and exercising. According to BabyCenter, you need to take frequent breaks for your own health. Everyone needs a little downtime, even new parents.

Don't Forget Your Other Needs

You have a lot of physical needs that you need to focus on but don't forget your other needs. You should also connect socially with friends. Take time to acknowledge, feel, and express your own emotions. Get intellectual stimulation by reading, meditate to relax, and work on your hobbies. All of your needs matter, and they all deserve to be addressed.

Dealing With Stress

Newborns bring a lot of joy into your life, but they also bring a lot of stress. New parents often worry about whether they're doing the right things, feeding the baby correctly, diapering properly, and managing all those little chores the way a good parent should. Stress can bog you down in negative thoughts, drain your energy, and make you physically less healthy.

Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep. And when you need it, ask for help. It's okay to acknowledge that you can't do everything alone because you can't. Make it a point to reduce your stress and deal with it in a healthy, positive way. Don't turn to alcohol or drugs to manage your stress, to keep yourself awake, to boost your mood, or to get an extra burst of energy. This is a slippery slope that can lead to addiction, and then you really won't be able to be an effective parent in any way. Substances hamper your judgement, and they very often lead to addiction and abuse, which will only take you away from your child.

Self-Care for You and Your Baby

If you aren’t taking proper care of yourself, then you can’t give your best to your new baby. Make sure you include self-care as part of your parenting routine so you can decrease stress, stay healthy, and set a positive example for your child. Self-care isn’t just for you; it’s also what’s best for your baby, too.

Photo credit: Pixabay

Blog Submitted to The Newborn Care Agency by Ashley Taylor from disabledparents.org

Changing Table Necessities

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With an infant comes the responsibility of changing a diaper. Whether you decide to use disposable or cloth diapering, a dedicated changing area can make the whole process much simpler. Our team of Postpartum Doulas and Newborn Care Specialists have changed more diapers than they can count, and have put together this list of essentials for your changing table to make changing baby a snap! The Changing Area Pick a space that is comfortable for both you and baby, that will remain comfortable until baby is out of diapers (Yay, potty training! We can talk about that later.) This should be a space that is free of breakables and allows baby and caregiver to bond. Some examples that we have worked with include: changing tables, a spare bed, a counter-top, and the floor. To keep baby safe, never leave them out of touch during a diaper change.

The Basics Every changing space should have three things. The baby. A diaper. Wipes.

The Extras To make diapering seamless, you can add in comfort measures for you and baby. These would include things like: -a diaper genie(goodbye stink!) -a waterproof changing mat or liner -diaper creams and lotion to add in some baby massage(we'll talk about this later too!) -a stockpile of diapers and wipes -at least two spare sets of clothing.

Let's get Real You and any other caregiver for your child will spend a fair amount of time diapering. It could even last for many years. Most children will be out of diapers by three. That is a ton of potential quality time that can be spent on the changing table. From the very beginning, taking the time during a diaper change to talk to your child and engage them can lead to huge benefits in their development down the line. Babies love to hear your voice. Even if you are talking nonsense, it is making a difference in their socialization, vocabulary, and emotional development.

Enjoying the Holidays with a New Baby

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It's the Holiday Season; you are making plans to visit friends and family, and they are making plans to see your new baby. Having a new baby during the holidays can be overwhelming. The struggle to please everyone while maintaining your sanity in the postpartum period can make it very difficult to enjoy the holiday season. Throw in going gift shopping with your infant when all you want is to enjoy your baby-moon, and you have a recipe for disaster. There is good news, though! Communication is so important when setting boundaries. Friends and family will not know where the boundaries are if you do not communicate your needs up front. Are you tired? Make it known. If you are hungry, ask for someone to bring you food. Do you need to hold your infant? Tell whoever is holding the baby that it is Mommy's turn. Communicate yours and your baby's needs to everyone in order to maintain your sanity and keep everyone happy! Utilize your resources. Have friends or family that live close by? Take them up on previous offers to help out, whether it be helping to decorate, going shopping with you (or even for you!), and, if you can bear it, let them babysit for some self-care.

 

Baby Wearing

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Baby wearing is an important part of parenting. There have been many studies on the benefits of baby wearing. These studies have found that babies who are "worn" cry less and are socialized earlier. This is due to being included in all the family's activities and being exposed to more language and social interaction, instead of laying in another room passively. Baby wearing is very practical in addition to the social impact on a child. In addition to less crying, wearing your baby increases portability with your infant. Simple tasks for parents are made easier and wearing your baby allows you to meet your own needs, such as eating, shopping, walking the dog, or even working. Using a quality carrier can ensure that parents or care providers can meet the needs of the child while still being able to get things finished.

When baby is happy, parents are happy. When baby is happy, parents are happy, and if there are older siblings, they are happy too. Baby wearing makes it easier to integrate a new baby into the family with older siblings as baby is less likely to wholly monopolize parents' time.

Carriers for baby wearing are an essential tool. As such, it is important to keeps things in mind while choosing which carrier is right for your family.

Things to keep in mind include:

  • What is the main purpose? Short carries or the long haul?
  • Comfort; for both baby and the wearer.
  • Style
  • Who will be the main wearer?
  • Does it need to be adjustable for multiple wearers?
  • Is it hands-free?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • Is it washable?
  • Do you have more than one baby?

If you have questions about baby wearing, there are a multitude of resources available to parents. We suggest: asking your pospartum doula or newborn care specialist; joining a baby wearing group; renting a carrier to find what you like; and reaching out to other parents in your community.

Tackling Cold and Flu Season with your Infant

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It's here. FALL! With the smell of cinnamon, the changing of the colors, and pumpkins everywhere; comes something not so pleasant. Cold and Flu Season! Cold and flu season does not have to be intimidating. There are many things you can do to prevent sickness from terrorizing your house.

  • On a nice day, open up those windows and get the air moving.
  • Change your bedding and towels frequently to prevent germs from building up.
  • Wash your hands!
  • Eat a good diet with immunity boosting vitamins and minerals.
  • Don't share drinking glasses or utensils to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Disinfect commonly touched surfaces, like doorknobs and light-switches.

Though we can try hard to prevent sickness, a well-stocked medicine cabinet is an essential tool to making it through cold and flu season.

  • Thermometer: A digital rectal thermometer is the most accurate for taking children's temperature. If your child is less than 6 months old and has a fever over 100.4, then it is important to call your pediatrician.
  • Tissues: Red and runny noses are no fun. Be prepared with plenty of tissues on hand that aren't abrasive on your or baby's skin.
  • Humidifier: Adding humidity to the air can be beneficial, especially if there is congestion.
  • Nasal aspirators and Saline drops: Especially for babies who haven't learned how to blow their nose, saline drops loosen up mucous and aspirators clear the nasal passages.
  • Pain Relievers: Infant Tylenol and Motrin can help a fussy baby with a fever, but always make sure to follow the dosing recommendations set forth by your provider.

Cold and flu season does not have to an insurmountable task for your family to accomplish, nor does it have to be stressful. It is something that can be managed with a little preparation in addition to lots and lots of rest. If you ever feel unsure in regards to your infant's illness, then a call to your pediatrician is always a good idea, and it is important to trust your intuition.

Carseat Buying Tips

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Carseat buying can be an overwhelming process. There are so many to choose from, yet they are all basically the same. So, where do we differentiate which one we should choose? Our tips focus on safety, comfort, and personal preference.

Safety

First and foremost, safety is the most important deciding factor when making a decision. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rear-facing your child until the age of two or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. A rear-facing child restraint does a better job of supporting the head, neck and spine of infants and toddlers in a crash. During an impact, a rear-facing seat distributes the force of the collision over the entire body.

Comfort

You want your child to be comfortable, but don’t forget that it is important for you to be comfortable too.Take time to read reviews on what other parents like or don’t like about a specific seat. Take all their advice into consideration when making a purchase. Some comfort measures can inhibit safety, so it is important that the comfort measures you desire are built into the carseat. Try and avoid aftermarket products that aren’t made specifically for your child’s seat.

Preference

Don’t forget to pick out something you like! Personal preference is important because you will most likely own this item for at least two years. That is a long time to hate the color or pattern on the carseat. When in doubt, stick with neutral colors and patterns.

Buying your child's first carseat doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Just remember to focus on safety, comfort, and preference!  Be on the lookout soon for a more detailed summary of car seat safety. These blogs will include: proper installation of the carseat, buckling in your child, and extended rear-facing your child.

 

AAP: www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide

Tips for an Easy Newborn Bedtime

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Sleep is an essential part of the growth and development of any newborn which is why they spend so much of their time sleeping. Despite the quantity of sleep that babies receive, many parents still struggle to get their child to fall asleep each evening. So what are the common mistakes that we see when it comes to putting an infant down? Keep reading for our tips for an easy newborn bedtime.

Look for the Signs

One of the best things you can do for an easy newborn bedtime is to pay attention to your baby’s sleepy signs. While these symptoms may vary slightly from child to child, all infants exhibit some form of tired signs. Be on the lookout for rubbing eyes, looking away/trouble focusing, arching of the back, or yawning as cues that your child is ready to go to sleep. Once you begin to see the signs, start whatever preparations you may make for bedtime and get started putting them to sleep immediately. An overtired newborn is exceptionally hard to get to sleep.

Light and Sound

Overstimulation is another common cause of difficulty in putting a baby to sleep and avoiding it can go a long way towards an easy newborn bedtime. Overstimulation often occurs because of an inability to process large amounts of stimulation. When an infant becomes overstimulated, they tend to go into a full on melt down and may not respond well to attempts to comfort them. The best way to help an overstimulated baby is to remove sources of stimulation. Take them to a quiet, dark room and swaddling them will provide a calm environment that will help them settle down and eventually go to sleep.

Tank Up

One of the most common things we hear from new parents is that their baby seems insatiable before it’s time to go down for the evening. Often this is part of a phenomenon known as “cluster feeding” where an infant will feed more frequently in the night to sleep longer stretches through the evening. Ensuring that you meet their feeding demand is one of our biggest tips for an easy newborn bedtime. Cluster feeding is one strong exception to establishing a schedule for your child.