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Why Sleep Cues Can Be a Game Changer for Your Baby’s Sleep!
Does your baby have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?
Does he cry or fuss when he should be sleeping?
You may be missing your baby’s sleep cues!
How to Prevent Hours of Crying and Fussing
In this post I’m going to explain baby sleep cues and why they are so important for new parents to understand!
I’m also going to teach you how to recognize YOUR baby’s unique sleep cues.
You will see how this can really make a HUGE difference in how your baby sleeps (or doesn’t sleep!)
If you are able to recognize and respond quickly to these cues, you will save yourself and your baby hours of crying and fussing at bedtime!
Your Baby May Not Be Getting Enough Sleep!
This may surprise new parents but babies need lots of sleep. So much so, that some new parents worry that their newborn seems to be sleeping all the time.
Well, as long as they are getting enough feedings, this is good!
Even “older” babies need lots of sleep!
A baby needs to sleep often because his brain and body are growing so rapidly! The time awake is good for his brain growth and development, but it is also very exhausting for him!
After being awake for only a short while, his brain begins to get very stimulated and all that stimulation makes him very sleepy.
For newborns, it is not unusual for them to be ready for a nap only 30 minutes after waking!
Can My Baby Sleep Too Much?
It is possible that your baby is sleeping too much if he isn’t getting enough feedings!
In the first 2 weeks, especially, you may even need to wake your newborn to eat since it is recommended that newborns eat every 2-3 hours during the day to regain normal lost weight since birth.
Talk to your baby’s doctor if you have concerns about how much your baby sleeps. Until he reaches his birth weight, it is important that he eats often!
Once he reaches birth weight and begins gaining weight at a good pace, most babies will be given the “green light” by their doctors to begin “on-demand feedings,” which means that it is okay to allow the baby to set the feeding schedule at night.
Even with “on demand” night feedings, It is still often recommended to feed your baby every 3 hours during the day to help him sleep longer stretches at night! See more about that in this post.
How Sleep Cues Can Help
Sleep cues are signals that babies send when they are beginning to get tired. Each baby’s cues are different, so a new parent needs to learn their baby’s unique cues.
You many not notice sleep cues during the early weeks as your baby will be pretty much sleeping when he is not eating!
However, as he begins to have more wake time, you will notice more sleep cue behaviors emerging.
Responding to Sleep Cues Improves Sleep!
Sleep cues are your baby’s way of communicating that she is ready for sleep.
It’s important that you begin a very brief bedtime or nap routine immediately after seeing those cues!
The reason is that there is usually a very short window of time before she begins cuing and becoming over-tired.
An over-tired baby can be very hard to get to sleep (and stay asleep) because her body begins producing adrenaline and cortisol hormones.
It may take a while to learn your baby’s unique sleep cues. Some babies are easy to read, while others may not give off obvious cues.
Some parents report that their babies go from happy to over-tired or hysterical in the blink of an eye without any obvious cues. If this is your baby, then learn to watch the clock.
Here’s what I mean…
The 60-90 Minute Sleep Rule
A good general rule of thumb is what is often called the “60-90 minute rule.”
This simply means that once your baby has been awake for 60 minutes (up to 90 minutes for slightly older babies) they are ready for a nap again. Try to figure out their ideal “wake window”.
Keep in mind that the younger the baby, the shorter his wake window will be.
A newborn, for example, will need to nap again 30-45 minutes after waking! By 6-9 months, it can be up to 90 minutes.
Catching your baby’s sleep cues or wake window can be a “game changer” for some parents!
Watch for Sleep Cues!
If you have a baby that doesn’t nap or sleep well, try being extra attentive to watching for his sleep cues. It may be the case that you are missing those cues and your baby becomes over-tired very easily.
It’s important to recognize your baby’s early sleep cues before he starts to cry!
You may also have a baby that is hyper-sensitive to stimulus and you may need to take her into a quiet, dark room for naps or feedings.
Most Common Baby Sleep Cues
You may notice one or several of these common behaviors in your baby when she is tired. You may also begin to notice different behaviors NOT on this list.
Since every baby is different, don’t be surprised if your baby develops his own cues or ways to signal that he’s ready for sleep.
Less movement, still or calming
Staring or “glazed-over” look to eyes
Rooting or acting hungry
Disinterested or disengaging with surroundings
Less socially responsive (smiling or tracking)
Irritable, fussy, squirmy
Quiet but lets out a single whine or cry
Thumb or finger sucking
Batting, scratching or tugging at ears
Red eyes or eyebrows
Crying (late cue)
Have you noticed these or other sleep cues with your baby? I’d really love to hear about your own experience with baby sleep cues or wake windows. Thanks for sharing!
Are You Making These Common New Parent Sleep Mistakes?
Missing your baby’s sleep cues is a significant mistake that new parents often make. Perhaps you are making others?
Check out this post about 10 common mistakes that new parents make that can really hurt baby’s sleep!
Want Other Great New Parent Sleep Tips?
Check out my affordable eBook on newborn sleep. It’s available on Amazon here! Here’s more info about the eBook…
30 Easy Sleep Tips for New Parents!
Having a newborn is hard! The greatest challenge for most new parents is loss of sleep. How can you get more sleep with your newborn? It is possible! My new eBook shows you how. This is NOT your average book on baby sleep, but an easy step-by-step, hands-on survival guide for new parents! I teach new parents how to maximize their sleep during the postpartum period.
I have compiled all my favorite doula tips into a very practical and useful book on sleep for new parents. It’s called 30 Sleep Hacks for New Parents: A Sleep Survival Guide for Parents of Newborns. This quick read is a very affordable eBook that will be a game changer for your family!
Professional Sleep Coaching!
While it is too early to begin sleep training with a newborn, it is not too early to help your baby develop some good sleep associations and habits! This online program is designed to support new parents by avoiding bad sleep habits and preparing a baby ages 0-6 months to be ready for sleep training after 6 months. This is not a “cry-it-out” program, but rather a gentle approach that uses behavior modification techniques to gradually teach your baby to self-sooth, fall asleep and stay asleep. Gentle Baby Solutions 0-6 month program focuses on helping new parents establish good habits and paves the way for future sleep training efforts. Check out this online program here.
They also have an online program for older babies and children called Gentle Sleep Solutions.