Ahh that sweet newborn phase, am I right? First, congratulations on your new baby! This is such a memorable time in your life. Get ready for all the good things, like cuddling and baby coos. But also be prepared for the mysterious and strange world of newborn sleep. There will be nights where it seems like morning will never come as you rock and sway your baby back to sleep. Or you feel like you’ve barely slept a few minutes before your little one wakes up again to eat and cuddle. But trust me, these days and nights will be gone before you know it as your baby grows older and develops a more mature sleeping pattern. Maybe you’ll even miss these sleepless nights?
With a 6-month-old, those sleepless newborn nights seem so far away to me since our babies started sleeping through the night at 4 months! We credit this “accomplishment” to a phone app that we discovered. Yes – a phone app! Read on to see how this app saved our newborn’s sleep – and maybe download it for your family!
Newborn Sleep Patterns
This section title is a misnomer. Because the pattern to newborn sleep is that there is no pattern! Here are some things to think about with newborn sleep:
- Newborns sleep a lot. Like a lot. Think 14-18 hours a day! It’s hard work being that cute. 🙂
- There will be night and day confusion. This is due to lack of circadian rhythm. Your baby just spent 9 months in complete darkness in the comfort of your womb. They slept during the day, being soothed by your rhythmic movements and were awake at night when you were trying to rest.
- Newborns wake up frequently. This is due to the need to eat around the clock. They have such tiny tummies and can’t stay full for very long.
- Newborns don’t sleep long. They can sleep for no longer than a 4 hour stretch, even at night. Mostly because they have to eat so often.
- Newborns have such restless sleep. They spend more than half of their sleep in the REM cycle, which is characterized by light, active sleep .During the REM cycle, they move around a lot ,dream, make noises. This causes newborns to also be light sleepers.
With these sleeping patterns, how the heck can we work towards having newborns sleep through the night? By making sure they are well-rested and not overtired! Let’s discuss more below.
What is Overtiredness?
There is no such thing as “babies will sleep when they are tired”. If babies are awake longer than their little bodies can handle, they will become overtired. This can activate a stress response, releasing hormones, such as cortisol, making it even harder for baby to settle. So the more overtired your little one becomes, the more difficult it is for them to fall asleep and even stay asleep.
You can tell if your baby has become overtired if they are crying, fussy, and difficult to soothe. They also may be overactive, which is often confused with a sign that they are not tired and ready to play instead of sleep!
But fear not! There are ways to prevent overtiredness.
How to Prevent Overtiredness By Using Wake Times
Because newborns are sleeping so much in 24 hours, they are only awake for a short period of time before becoming overtired. This is where windows of wakefulness, or wake times, come in and why they play an important role in newborn sleep and preventing overtiredness. Wake times vary in each child and can range from 30 minutes to 60 minutes in newborns, but the wake time windows do get longer as baby gets older.
Since wake times vary so much, you want to keep an eye on signs of tiredness in order to know when to put your little one down for their nap. These signs include yawning, rubbing their eyes, pulling their ears and an overall glazed look where they become less social and less engaged.
However, not all babies display signs of tiredness. So it’s easy to completely miss the window of wakefulness and before you know it, your baby is overtired and all hell breaks loose! Cue the exasperation and frustration. What is one to do?
The Huckleberry App
Huckleberry app to the rescue! The Huckleberry app marries pediatric sleep experts with artificial intelligence to create a custom sleep plan for your family. How does it work? You use the app to track your baby’s habits, including meals, naps, toileting, etc. As you put in more information, Huckleberry assesses these habits and developmental stages to make predictions on when sleep should happen. In the Huckleberry app, this is called the SweetSpotⓇ, the “world’s first real-time predictive algorithm that lets you know when your child will be tired – but not overtired”. The SweetSpotⓇ evolves as your child grows and sleep needs change.
Doesn’t it sound too good to be true? I just log Liliana’s naps, including when she actually fell asleep, if it took her a long time, when she woke up (or if I had to wake her) and if she was upset. Taking all of this, as well as her age, Huckleberry lets me know the optimal time to put her down for her next nap. There’s no guesswork involved or wondering if I missed a yawn or sleepy sign. There’s even a setting where you can set an alarm to notify you x many minutes before the SweetSpotⓇ time so you can prepare for the naptime routine. The goal is to have the child asleep by the stated time, not just in the crib, so be sure to put the baby down well in advance to give them time to settle down and fall asleep independently.
And the best part about the Huckleberry app is that it is free! 100% free. You even get access to the SweetSpotⓇ! There are options to upgrade to Huckleberry Essential or Huckleberry Premium to tap into a full analysis by pediatric sleep experts, who develop a custom plan and sleep schedule for your family! Here’s an overview of the available plans with Huckleberry:
Our Experience with the Huckleberry App
We have only used the free version of the Huckleberry app since Liliana was born and it has been very effective in developing healthy sleep. We start our naptime routine (cuddling and singing) about 15 minutes before the stated SweetSpotⓇ time and put Liliana down wide awake in the crib. She is usually asleep within a few minutes of the SweetSpotⓇ time with no crying or whining! She always wakes up super happy and refreshed and is never overtired or fussy. Because of that, Liliana started sleeping through the night at 4 months of age!
If you are looking to improve your baby’s sleep, I highly recommend giving the Huckleberry app a try! Since it’s free, there’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything (and most importantly, sleep) to gain. Have you tried the Huckleberry app? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments below!