Help your 3 week old baby sleep longer at night with a gentle, consistent routine, + learn why to start early!
I blinked awake.
It was 3:00am. My new daughter had just slept 5 hours– from 10 to 3 am.
I felt like a new person.
She was about three weeks old, and I felt a huge sense of relief wash over me as I sat up on the bed and slipped my sweater over my shoulders. Our 3 week old baby sleep routine was already in motion and I liked the results so far.
If this played out anything like it did with our first baby, it wouldn’t be long until we started to feel rested again.
Not that moms ever fully recover from sleep-deprivation.
At least, I haven’t yet, but I do have three kids 7 and under. Tired is just an extension on my name now: Heather Goffrier, Tired.
But nothing compares to the “wait, I LITERALLY just fell asleep and she’s crying again?!” feeling from when your baby is brand new.
Do you seriously use a 3 week old baby sleep routine?
You might question whether one can use an infant sleep schedule or routine with a baby so young, but you can (in most cases).
The key is that a 3-week-old baby sleep routine is NOT a rigid, unbreakable timeline of things that must occur.
It IS a way to gently guide your child toward sleeping through the night and learning that their world is predictable.A baby sleep routine is NOT a rigid, unbreakable timeline of things that must occur. It IS a way to gently guide your #newborn toward sleeping through the night and learning that their world is predictable. #newmom #babysleep Click To Tweet
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When a baby’s world is predictable, they fall into their next activity with a sense of ease.
It’s time to eat? Ready.
Time to play? Bring it.
Bed time?#ad Swaddle me, Mama.
Of course, some babies take a while to adjust to a routine. Some have health issues that require special attention. So please remember that YOU know best for your child, and always consult your doctor.
Why Start A 3-Week-Old Baby Sleep Routine So Early?
So let’s dig deeper into why we want to start the routine at least by 3 weeks old, if not before.
1- An Early Routine Flows Out Of Hospital’s Instructions
The cool thing about starting an infant sleep schedule right when you get home from the hospital is that it naturally continues on the feeding directions the nurses give you.
After delivery, the nurses asked us to chart our babies’ feeding times on a big, white board in my hospital room. That kept baby on track for weight gain, and alerted the nurses if baby wasn’t getting enough.
It’s super helpful to keep that up when you get home (I was a tracking nerd so I found this fun!).
Babies need to be fed 8-12 times within 24 hours, at least when everything is healthy and normal with your baby. That comes out to feeding baby at least every 2 to 3 hours.
My kids ate every two hours for the first several days — yes through the night too!
For the first few weeks, I kept them eating every three hours and woke them up from a nap if needed. Over the next few weeks, they (amazingly!) started sleeping longer at night, because I started letting them sleep beyond three hours.
I only woke them at night after 4-5 hours to ensure my milk supply didn’t diminish.
2- Get Baby Used To Various Sleeping Arrangements
Babies are super sleepy in the first few weeks. Because of that, it’s easier to start getting baby to sleep in crib as well as used to a variety of other places right away.
They might not take all their naps in a spacious flat crib at first, which is fine! But sleeping in a swing, baby chair, or rocker (with supervision) or a travel pack n play nearby can help mom get a break and help baby adjust to the occasional independent nap.
We prioritized safe sleeping for newborns, so we made sure our little ones were always in a safe spot and supervised if we weren’t holding them.
Of course I’m sure you’ll be holding baby for some naps like I did.
How can you resist the cuteness and snuggles?! And there’s no need to restrain yourself from cuddling for the sake of a sleep schedule in the early weeks.
Many times a newborn baby sleeps all day, so you’ll have many chances for snuggles– even with trying naps in various places.
However, after three weeks, baby becomes more wakeful to the world and more aware of his or her surroundings.
If you’ve already got them used to sleeping in a variety of places, it’ll be SO much easier to continue independent sleep when you need to put them down to do something for yourself, like take a shower, nap or hey, even eat a full meal!
3- You Can Maintain The Baby Sleep Routine Anywhere You Go
Starting an infant sleep routine by 3 weeks old works really well, because baby can sleep anywhere at that stage. In the kitchen, the living room, bedroom, or wherever you go, they can still have regular meals and naps.
A baby sleep routine is not as dependent on where they sleep as the consistent order of their activities.A baby sleep routine is not as dependent on where they sleep as the consistent order of their activities. #newbornsleep #babysleep Click To Tweet
When our third daughter arrived, we had a very small house.
We hung out a lot in the living/dining room combo, which was right next to the kitchen. I set baby up behind a baby gate in a Rock n Play, right by the entrance to the kitchen. (We had a one year old to keep at bay, hence the gate.)
This worked perfectly for the first couple of weeks:
I lumbered around slowly, recovering from my c-section. My older kids rolled on the couches and crawled around the floor with Paw Patrol toys, calling out, “This pup’s gotta fly!” And my mom tinkered in the kitchen keeping us fed, and churned out piles of clean, folded laundry.
The baby slept peacefully in the midst of it all, and I was able to feed her and get her back to napping super easily. Yay!
A Smooth Transition
However, after three weeks, she started to stir when she heard loud noises.
Napping in the living room got tough, so we started having her nap in her crib with a monitor on. She slept so much better away from the noises, and my other kids could be kids.
One huge benefit of starting the newborn sleep schedule in the first few weeks was that at week three, she seamlessly adjusted to napping in the crib. She continued to take regular naps throughout the day, so getting a newborn to sleep became super easy for us!
And in most cases, it can for you too!
4- Day is Day and Night is Night
By starting with the hospital routine and continuing that at home, you can help your baby adjust to day and night more quickly and easily.
What parent doesn’t want to squash day/night confusion asap?!
At first, babies pretty much eat constantly around the clock, so there really isn’t a day or night. This is the oh-so-tough, sleep-deprived stage!
But as they get older, they start to drop feedings. Our goal was to have our kids drop those feedings at night, rather than sleep 5 hours straight through the afternoon.
We didn’t want baby feeding every hour and not sleeping a wink at night!
So, we woke up our babies during the day to offer them a tasty meal after 3 hours since the previous feed. We never forced them to eat, but they were always eager to nurse after a nice nap.
Even as early as 2-3 weeks, our kids started sleeping two, then three, then four hour stretches at night.
And after having woken up every 2-3 hours at night for the first couple weeks, sleeping 4 hours straight made me feel like a brand new woman!At first, babies pretty much eat constantly around the clock, so there really isn't a day or night. This is the oh-so-tough, sleep-deprived stage!But as they get older, they start to drop feedings. Our goal was to have our kids… Click To Tweet
5- A Baby Sleep Routine Limits Guesswork
Starting our baby sleep routine before 3 weeks old gave me the structure I needed as a new mom.
It eliminated so much guesswork, because if our daughter got upset after she’d just woken up and eaten, then I knew she wasn’t hungry. I could look for newborn sleep cues or any other issue, such as needing to burp or having gas.
A routine gave me a plan and some direction when I felt like a clueless new mom, who would otherwise be guessing at what to do.
I needed that confidence, especially since my husband was deploying soon and I’d be taking care of her on my own.Learn as much as you can about your baby's unique voice and cues– it will help you meet their needs SO much more quickly! #newmom #babyroutine Click To Tweet
It’s time to start feeling more rested, don’t you think?
It may be beneficial to start a baby sleep routine by three weeks old, but if you missed that window, never fear! You can totally start anytime, and you’ll reap huge benefits.
It might take an adjustment period as everyone adapts to a new routine, but the better napping and night sleep will make it worthwhile to go through the bumps!
INFANT SLEEP SCHEDULE SUPPLIES LIST:
You don’t need many supplies to get started on a baby sleep schedule. In fact, you probably already have everything on this list: