Last updated on August 2nd, 2021

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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Colic is a bit of a mystery, as the experts don’t really know what causes it. In normal, healthy, well-fed infants, colic is described as more than 3 hours of crying in a 24-hour period. While colic usually goes away by the time your baby reaches 4 months, those 4 months can be frustrating and exhausting.

Recently, I wrote two articles about sleep and colic. In the first article, How to Get Sleep When Dealing With Colic, I aim to help you and your baby get the best sleep possible:

The first thing that new parents need to understand is that baby sleep is very, very different from adult sleep. As an adult, you have a set circadian rhythm that tells your body when it’s time to be awake (daylight), and when it’s time to sleep (night). I know that we don’t always listen to our body’s internal clocks, but with a brand new baby, there’s no clock to speak of.
As adults, our biological rhythms are set to sleep when it’s dark outside, but your new baby doesn’t know that, which means that often new babies sleep all day and are up all night.
“Knowing this, there are a few things that you can be aware of that will help you get through the early months with your new baby:

  • Newborns have small sleep windows, usually only 1-2 hours! Watch for your baby’s sleep windows and try to help them to sleep before they get overtired. In infants, sleepy signs that you can look for include eye rubbing, rooting, and yawning. If your baby begins to fuss, they’re usually past that “tired” point and into overtired territory.
  • Do whatever you can to help get your baby sleeping – feed them to sleep, hold them to sleep, use motion sleep, swaddle your baby…and don’t worry about “bad” habits. Know that any so called “bad habits” can be easily undone once your newborn has gotten past colic and is ready for traditional sleep coaching. Create a safe and sleep friendly environment, which means that your baby’s room needs to be dark, quiet, cool, with no stimulation. If you live on a busy street or have other children in the house, consider using a white noise machine.
  • Make naps a priority. No, really! Filling your baby’s daytime sleep tank can help improve sleep at night. Really. So do everything you can to help your baby have good naps during the day.
  • Be realistic about bedtime. I know that you just want to cuddle your newborn, but your baby may need an earlier bedtime than you may think. Most newborns need a bedtime somewhere between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. If you notice that your baby starts to get fussy during this time, start your soothing bedtime routine and get them to bed as soon as possible.
  • Babies thrive on routine, and you can start creating a soothing bedtime routine as soon as your baby is 2 to 3 weeks old. A good bedtime routine for an infant may include dimming the lights, quieting the room, bath, massage, soothing music, feeding, or swaddling. Know that your baby really only needs 3 to 4 “items” in their bedtime routine, which should take no longer than 30-minutes.
  • Decrease stimulation in the late afternoon in order to reduce crying. This includes turning off the television, dimming bright lights, and making sure that the rooms where your baby is are quiet. Try to avoid a lot of visitors during this time.
  • Your baby doesn’t know that nighttime is for sleeping. You can help alleviate your baby’s day/night confusion by making sure that your newborn gets lots of natural light in the morning, and throughout the day during non-sleeping times. You can also encourage day and night to feel different-feedings during the day should be bright and well lit, while nighttime should be dark and quiet. You will need to act as your child’s “external” body clock until theirs develops sometime between 3 and 4 months.

Please read the full article for more tips.

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Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!