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Your Baby’s First Year: Top 5 Questions Answered by a Baby Sleep Coach

Baby's First Year

First things first, congratulations are in order! It’s such an exciting time to go from ultrasound to snuggles cuddles and love on the other side. Parenting is the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done and it is worth it. 


So, my favorite tip to start, open up your Bellybaloo app or take a look at your ultrasound photos and see where babies arms are: above their head, by their heart or down by their side. That’s the best swaddle type to get. They spent 9 months in that position, so often, that’s what they prefer. 


Now, on to the most important questions most parents have when their newborn makes their debut. 


When Will My Baby Sleep Through the Night?


Every baby is different, and when they sleep through the night will vary greatly but two main indicators are when intake in the daytime is between 24 & 32 oz and when they have the ability to independently settle to sleep without help. Let me explain in more detail: 


First, your baby is born and their belly is the size of a marble, by the end of day 3, it’s an egg and it slowly grows from there. In order to get 24-32 oz in a 24 hour period, it’s normal and expected babies will wake at night to eat, burp and be put back down for more sleep. As they grow, along with their stomach, they can sleep longer stretches and between 3 & 4 months old, babies can sleep through the night. 


Next, the part about resettling, let's talk about that. Newborns sleep in stage based sleep, REM or Non-REM 50% of the time. This is the only time they do, and around 3 - 4 months old, that shifts from stage to cycle sleep, AKA, their circadian rhythm is developing and that “body clock” sticks with them for life. 


Newborns should only be awake 45-60 minutes between sleeping periods and now enough sleep can derail intake, cause overtiring and also overstimulation in newborns as well. So those first weeks, eating and sleeping are priorities. Supported sleep like a cuddle nap with grandma, sleeping in the bassinet, sleeping in the crib, sleeping on a walk are all great ways to ensure they don’t get overtired. 


Once a day, my suggestion is to lay the baby down, fed, burped and ready for a nap, in the crib or bassinet. The first nap of the day is easiest and just see what they do. Offer some gentle touch and they will close their eyes to sleep. That’s the foundation for sleep, dozing on their own and it can take some practice to time it just right. 



How Do I Know If My Baby Is Eating Enough?


If your baby is bottle fed, breast milk or formula, keep note of the intake amounts to get to the range of 24-32 oz over a 24 hour period. That will ensure they are growing, have plenty of wet diapers and are getting what they need. Feedings should be ‘about’ every 3 hours, but at this age, they will tell you they are hungry. I only share that because no one told me that and it can be confusing to know for sure. If they happen to be on a marathon nap session when they should be eating, I encourage you to wake them to eat, then they can go back to sleep, but that way that feed won’t end up happening overnight and you can all get a touch of sleep.


If you are nursing, I advise at a well visit to ask for a weighted feed. You weigh the baby, nurse and weigh the baby, then see what they transferred. Try to time the appointment and feeding so they are hungry and ready to eat at that time, and have an accurate picture of intake to capture a baseline number. {It’s a trick I learned when becoming a Certified Lactation Counselor back in 2018.} 


Side Note: I am type A and felt comfort in knowing numbers, so I personally wanted to know all feedings, so I bought a scale for newborns on Amazon for $60 and it was very helpful and sensitive enough for me to weigh in the comfort of my own home. Drop me an email at Courtney@tinytransitions.com if you want some suggestions. 


Nursing is a journey different for everyone, and with differing advice. My best advice, give yourself grace. Fed is best and you are doing a great job.


How and When to Burp My Newborn Baby?


I wish I knew I had options! I was an over the shoulder burper for weeks. It wasn’t until a seasoned friend with 3 kids was like “try this way!” So, let me share how often you should burp the baby and the three ways to burp that I found helpful. 


  • Over the should, good hearty pat of the back to get that trapped air up

  • Sitting on your lap, their butt on your thighs, leaning them forward to about 2:00 and patting the back. The pressure of their belly from them leaning forward can push the trapped air out. {This was my husband's favorite!} 

  • Laying baby across your thighs, with their belly down, as the pressure from that on your legs also gets the air out. 


Discomfort during eating can appear, so if baby stops suddenly eating or drinking, pause and offer the burp, to make sure. I don’t recommend you keep trying because if there is a trapped bit of air, the milk and the air are coming back up, and that’s too precious to waste! Generally, offering 2-3 burps during a feeding session is good. If you can’t get one, and suddenly baby wakes 15 minutes into sleep screaming, it’s likely there is a trapped burp still in there. 


How Can I Soothe My Crying Baby?


Your newborn baby will eat, sleep and cry, a lot. That’s how they tell you they need something. 


Have a mental checklist, first, are they hungry, when is the last time they ate? Second, is their diaper soiled? Are there any signs of a fever? Trapped gas or burp? 


We love trying the 5 S’s to soothe a crying baby. The five S's are swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking. You are trying to support their needs. Offering a gentle shush and sway, a pacifier, some swaying or even looking out the window. 


Oftentimes, overtiring is a hidden culprit as well, so pay attention to the wake window.


What Can I Do to Take Care of Myself as a Parent?


Motherhood is hard. Immense uncertainty as you learn your new baby, their wants and needs, as you navigate the ups and downs of your hormones, chronic sleep deprivation and intimidation of it all. Best best advice is to control what you can, and give yourself grace for what you can't. 


My husband Adam didn’t know how to help. He told me to get a whiteboard, and write down all the stuff he could do, so each week, he could check things off the list, like change the diaper bin, grocery shop, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, etc. The checklist made it easy to have him help, without him having to ask, or me having to think. 


He also did the dream feed of either expressed milk or formula, depending on the day. I would feed and go to bed after I put baby down, showered and pumped. Usually that was about 8:00 pm. He would stay up, and at 10:00, go in and wake the baby, offer a full feed, burp and lie them back down, then he would go to bed. I slept until the next wake up, usually around 1 or 2 and was on the rest of the night, but still got a solid 6 hours of sleep. He went to bed by 10:30 or 11, then would get up at 5 or 6 to hit the gym or head off to work. When he came home, I would then take a walk, get some air, try to hit the gym or just have a bit of peace. We balanced it as best we could not having a village to help us. Give yourself grace, you will get through it. 


And if you are looking for a village, I invite you to join Sleep Steps. It’s the first offering of it’s kind for parents with newborns, with a program for infants and toddlers as well. Your comprehensive program, for navigating your first 12 weeks and beyond, building healthy sleep foundations, connecting with a community of people where you are with our expert in there to coach you and live weekly zooms, to ask for sleep help, get feeding advice, or just say hello. Come for the sleep but stay for the community, all included for just $47.  


About the Author: Hi, I’m Courtney Zentz, the Founder of Tiny Transitions Sleep Consulting. I am driven by a mission to revolutionize how people perceive sleep and to offer accessible coaching resources for families to foster healthy sleep habits in their homes, regardless of their children's ages.


Being an award-winning speaker, author, and Pediatric Sleep Expert, my team and I work closely with families worldwide, guiding them towards establishing healthy sleep routines for both children and adults. I firmly believe that a well-rested household is the cornerstone of happiness.


I am honored to serve as the resident sleep expert for The Mother of All Baby Showers events across the nation. Additionally, I frequently contribute to esteemed publications such as Newsweek, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, and NBC, sharing insights on sleep and wellness. I also provide mentorship and business coaching to fellow sleep consultants seeking to elevate their practices.


Outside of work, I reside just outside Philadelphia, PA, with my husband Adam and our two children, Max and Sovella. Sleep and healthy living have always been priorities in our family life, and I am passionate about imparting this wisdom to others.


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