Why are newborn babies fussy at night?
Over the past eleven years in the business, I’ve mainly given advice about baby gear: what stroller to buy? How do you tie your baby wrap? How do you create the perfect registry? But besides being a baby gear aficionado, I am also a father of three, so I have parenting advice to give, too. For instance: how do you hire a babysitter? When do you teach your children table manners? And how do you get your children to make you breakfast? (All future blog posts, I hope!) But the most common advice I give has to be about newborn babies.
I can’t tell you how many friends and family have struggled and complained to me that their children get crazy-fussy at about 8pm. I know this problem intimately. When Audrey was a couple of weeks old (she’s now 13 and on a teen tour at Yosemite National Park – how am I old enough to have a teenager?), at 8PM she would get incredibly fussy. So what did Sheri and I do? We called it the “Mommy and Daddy Show”: we’d sing and we’d dance. We would bop around our kitchen and entertain baby Audrey to get her to stop crying.
You see our logic was, if we wanted Audrey to sleep through the night, and not wake us up before the crack of dawn, we shouldn’t put her to bed early – “early to bed, early to rise.” I see so many parents use the same logic, and at this point I know that logic is flawed.
The way to get your baby to not be fussy at 8PM is not to have them be awake at 8PM. Most babies should go to bed way earlier than 8 or 9pm (or later), and in my experience having your kid asleep by 6:30 or 7pm has no effect whatsoever on when they wake up in the morning, and in addition to that, you and your partner get some well deserved alone time in the evening, which is so nice.
So my first piece of advice is to put the baby to bed early. Buy you may be wondering, how do I get that baby down at 6PM?
Here’s my second piece of advice that we used for all three kids: have a bedtime routine. Bathe the baby, massage the baby (infant massage is so important), read to the baby (yes even at a couple weeks old), and then nurse the baby (I obviously was no help in that department), or do a last bottle feeding if nursing isn’t an option. The routine cues the baby that it’s time for bed, and it trains them to get in that mode.
I won’t guarantee that the baby will go right down (mine for sure didn’t consistently), but that routine was key to getting my kids into the rhythm of going to sleep.
So if it’s 11pm and you’re reading this blog post and your baby is still awake, just remember that the baby is supposed to be sleeping. You might need to start the bedtime routine as early as 4:30pm (I know, crazy) but if you start your routine early and get that baby down early, you will have a much more peaceful evening, and no Mommy and Daddy show anymore.
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