FAQ – Sleep Shaping Masterclass

Understanding Sleep Patterns – Adapting Bedtime Routines

Q1: How do I establish a bedtime routine for my newborn when their daytime naps change every day?

A1: Creating a consistent bedtime routine can be challenging, but focus on a sequence of steps, like feeding, burping, white noise, swaddling, swaying, and placing them in the bassinet or crib. The routine is more about the sequence vs set timing, especially during the first 0-8 weeks.

To anchor your day, have a consistent morning wake up (desired wake time), remember bedtime will arrive 12 hours PLUS 1-2 hours after the morning wake up. As your baby gets older (past the 3 month mark), bedtime should be 11-12 hours from when they woke in the morning. The biggest key to when a baby is ready for night time sleep is based on the wake window before bed, having a wake window too short will cause your baby to treat bedtime like a nap, but having them go down overtired will result in them waking up after a short while, usually very upset.

Feeding and Sleep Concerns – Ensuring Full Feeds for Better Sleep

Q2: If my baby has inconsistent feeds during the day, should I try to have my baby finish their feed before their nap? Do I try, even if they are falling asleep at the breast/bottle?

A2: If your newborn consumed a small or snack feed at the beginning of their wake window and you’re worried it won’t be enough to sustain them for a full nap (beyond an hour), you can offer another feed before they fall asleep.

Try avoiding feeding TO sleep, and offer the feed in a brightly lit room (during the day). If your newborn starts to doze while feeding, try waking them up and if no such luck, unlatch your baby. If your newborn seems to be satisfied they do not need more milk at that time, so let them nap vs worrying about “filling them up”. Focus on meeting overall daytime sleep needs. If a feeding session is incomplete and your baby falls asleep, evaluate if they seem satisfied. Balance adequate calorie intake without promoting snacking tendencies.

Overcoming Overtiredness – Recognizing Signs of Overtiredness

Q3: How can I tell if my baby is out of the overtired stage?

A3: If your baby can fall asleep on their own, from a drowsy state, or with some or minimal help (without being awake for extended periods), they’re likely out of an overtired stage. Aim for 5 hours or more of daytime sleep in the newborn stage, transitioning to bedtime between 8:30-10:30 pm (the first 2 months of life).

Optimal Sleep Environment – Dark Vs Light Environments for Sleep

Q4: Once my baby is doing better with sleep, should I change their sleep environment to a lighter one during naps?

A4: One nap a day in a dark room (ideally the first nap) is important to set the stage for sleep. The first nap of the day is almost always the easiest to achieve (if we nail the wake window) and this will set your baby up for success in the sleep department for the coming weeks.

However, all periods of awake time should be in a bright room, with the blinds up, aiming to feed in this common area. We want natural light to filter into our homes during the day to help with our little one’s circadian rhythm. We also want them to get used to sleeping in their own sleep space, which is why we start off with one nap a day in a dark room. As the day goes on, naps can be harder for your newborn to do independently OR naps can become broken/sporadic. Therefore, focus on methods that support naps as the day goes on, this can look like contact naps or napping on the go, you do not need to worry whether the lights are on or off, do whatever works for you. I personally focused on two naps a day in my newborns sleep space (bassinet and crib), while the other naps were on the go (car ride or stroller) and on me (contact nap or baby wearing).

Tracking Sleep Needs – Total Sleep Required

Q5: What should my baby’s average total sleep be? Example, is 16 hours normal (9 hours at night, 6 hours during the day)?

A5: An average of 16-18 hours per day is typical for newborns (months 0-3), in a 24 hour period. Some variability in wake windows is normal, focus on meeting overall sleep needs.

Some newborns are on the high end of average sleep needs, meaning they need 18-20 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period of time for the first 4 weeks of life. By month 2 you should see your newborn tolerating a little more time awake before they are ready for a nap. Always reference my total sleep needs chart and compare it to your little one’s age.

Weeks 0-4 – Newborn Insights

Focus Points for Weeks 0-2

Q6: What should I focus on during weeks 0-2?

A6: Concentrate on full feeds every 2-3 hours during the day, facilitating good daytime sleep, and establishing a healthy internal rhythm for your baby (spend time outside in natural light for a few moments each day). Open the blinds so your baby feeds in natural light during the day in between each nap.

Surviving Challenging Moments

Q7: What should I focus on during weeks 0-2?

A7: Do what you need to survive, rocking/swaying and feeding to calm. Focus on laying a foundation for future success but prioritize what works to calm your infant during the witching period. Shutting off external stimulation (screens), dimming lights, and shushing or a lullaby can help with the witching phase. The goal is not to put your baby to sleep when they are in this state but to help regulate them, skin to skin contact works great! The best way to avoid an overtired newborn is to provide them with the opportunity to sleep within 30-45 minutes of them waking up from their last period of sleep. If your baby seems to doze off around 30-35 minutes into their wake window the first 1-3 weeks of life, this is their current baseline for wake windows, let them sleep!

Seeking Support

Q8: What support should I seek during weeks 0-4?

A8: Ensure you have the help you need, whether physical, emotional, or through support for conditions like PPA or PPD. Connect with fellow moms for additional support if this resonates with you. Following up with your health care provider for postpartum care is imperative.

Weeks 4-6 – The Peak of Fussiness

Q9: What happened to my baby, all of a sudden they seem fussy and they are fighting sleep, what am I doing wrong?

A9: Understand the challenges of the “Peak of Fussiness,” often coinciding with Leap 1 and the 6-week growth spurt. You may have noticed the “witching hour” has developed (which can be multiple hours) and occurs in the early evening between 5-7 pm or around 7:30-8:30 pm. Skin to skin, soothe baby with movement and singing can help. If your newborn is “fighting” sleep and you have not made any wake window adjustments, it can be sign its time to increase their wake window slightly.

Remember, wake windows often adjust every 2-3 weeks in the newborn stage.

Weeks 7-10 – Strategies for Early Morning Wakings

Q10: My baby has started sleeping longer stretches but now wakes within a couple hours of DWT. If I feed them 2 hrs before DWT, will they be hungry at DWT? Should I still wake them at DWT or let them sleep?

Strategy 2: Slowly Wean from the 5-6 AM Feeding

  • Gradually reduce the amount of food during the early morning feeding.
  • For breastfeeding, decrease minutes on each side over time.
  • For bottle-feeding, decrease total ounces for the 5 am feed.
  • This method is gentle and accommodates both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

Strategy 3: Slowly Delay Feeding Time

  • First lull your baby back to sleep with hands on support (if they wake 45-75 minutes before DWT). If shush/wiggling them back to sleep is not working, scoop up your baby and see if they will sleep in your arms. If your baby falls back asleep they are not hungry, and needed some help to fall back asleep. You can hold your baby until DWT or hold until they are in a deep sleep, transfer to their sleep space, and see how long they will sleep, waking up at DWT or close to it.
  • Encourage your baby to go back to sleep; if successful, it may reset the baby’s wake up time. Instead of 5:30 am wake up (we do not want to start their day), it can bridge the gap and have them sleep until 6:30 am or later.
  • Give this strategy 3-7 days if they continue to sleep past the 5 am mark

Strategy 4: Treat It Like Your First Feeding

  • If the waking time is close to the DWT, treat it as the first feeding.
  • Allow longer intervals between this feed and subsequent feeds to readjust the schedule.
  • Be cautious about dropping a feeding; ensure your baby is old enough for this adjustment. *
  • Potential concern: Baby might get used to waking earlier than desired.

*If you need support with moving feeds forward in the night, you can always purchase a “Return Client Check In”, which allows us to communicate via email and support any sleep challenges or hiccups. Sometimes you just have one specific sleep struggle and a check in can go along way in getting you the results you want! Return Client Check Ins are $39 USD & $50 CAD, send an email to kayla@serenitysleepconsulting.com to book this supportive service.

Desired Wake Time – When To Establish

Q11: Is a consistent DWT necessary at 8 weeks or beyond?

A11: Yes, maintaining a regular DWT to support setting up a consistent daily routine, which will support good daytime flow, and moves into better nighttime sleep. If you have not established a consistent DWT the first 6 weeks of life, you should focus on this as soon as possible.

Weeks 11 & 12 – Common Questions

Growth Spurts

Q12: When will a disruption in my newborn’s sleep occur? Sleep improved once we hit 8-9 weeks with all our sleep shaping efforts.

A12: Be prepared for more frequent feeds and shorter sleep cycles during growth spurts. Maintain the focus on establishing a rhythm rather than a strict schedule. Always focus on consistent feeds during the day vs adding extra feeds at night, if your baby is well fed during the day they will sleep better at night. We should be feeding approximately every 3 hours during the day for the first 3 months of life.

Weeks 11 & 12 – Common Questions

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Q13: Progress may be followed by setbacks, such as increased fussiness or a return to night feeds.

A13: Understand that occasional regressions are normal. Stick to established routines and be consistent in your approach of sleep shaping, success will return if you are on track with your efforts.

The 5-6 a.m. Night Waking

Q14: When my baby wakes up between 5-6 a.m, what should I do? I’m unsure whether to offer a pacifier, feed, or start their day.

A14: Try to soothe the baby back to sleep, especially if it’s not been long since their last feed. Sometimes they just need our support, and falling asleep in our arms is what is needed at the moment. If your baby is showing obvious hungry signs, feed them. Rewatch Sleep Shaping Masterclass where I discuss managing night wake ups and bridging to your desired wake time.

Flexibility for Outings

Q15: What to do if my other kid(s) have activities or if we need to be out of the house around my newborn’s nap?

A15: Plan for flexible nap options, your newborn will likely fall asleep once placed in the car. If they are fighting sleep, when you arrive at your destination you can try a baby carrier, wrap, or stroller nap. Adaptability is crucial for your baby’s adjustment to different environments. I would bring a pack and play if I knew we would be out of the house for a while, providing somewhere safe to place my baby down if I wanted or needed to be hands free.

Final Note

These answers are based on my personal techniques, trainings, and educational courses – always follow the advice of your primary care provider/OBGYN/midwife ect. If you need additional support to improve your baby’s sleep or have specific questions, you can always access a “return client” check in and I would be happy to review your specific sleep struggles or questions. Remember, sleep shaping DOES work but it also takes time and consistent efforts. If you maintain a desired wake time for at least 2 full weeks, you should see improvements overall to your daytime flow within a few weeks. In the newborn stage we are looking for progress not perfection, you should see weekly improvements overall if you maintain sleep shaping strategies. Most clients report watching the Sleep Shaping Masterclass 2-3 times and learn “something new” each viewing.

Wishing you serene nights and joyful days!

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