10 Sleepy Cues

Interpreting your baby’s sleepy cues can take some time to figure out. In those early weeks it can be especially complicated as you get to know your newborn and are learning to navigate all of their needs. They won’t always show us with a big clear yawn; and because of this, sleepy cues are often missed. It isn’t until babies begin fussing or crying before parents realize they are ready for sleep, and at this point they are likely, overtired. Unfortunately overtired babies and adults have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.
As you may have guessed, learning to read sleepy cues can be instrumental in developing a “good sleeper.“ And since I wholeheartedly feel that #SleepIsEssential and timing is everything, I wish to share my top 10 sleepy cues to watch for in your newborn.
  1. Yawning
  2. Red eyebrows
  3. Going cross eyed or a “lazy/wandering eye”
  4. Staring off
  5. Avoiding eye contact
  6. Hiccups
  7. Sneezing
  8. Quick breathing
  9. Blueness around the mouth
  10. Fussing/crying
As you spend more time observing your baby and finding a rhythm, you may notice your baby is consistently one who stares off while they hiccup, or has a wandering eye as naptime approaches, but what I found to be most helpful to all new parents is paying attention to the length of awake time between naps.
From birth to three months newborns are happiest with short wake windows of 60 to 90 minutes. This includes the time it takes to eat, change, swaddle, and soothe. Especially in those early weeks it feels as if you’re feeding and putting back down for sleep around the clock. It’s more than a feeling…You are! Newborns require between 4-6 hours of sleep a day and 11-12hr a night.

Science of Sleep


Humans young and old generally fall into one of 2 categories: those who pass out and those who put themselves to sleep. A person who passes out does not get the same quality of sleep as someone who practices putting themself to sleep. There is a common misconception that if we run our kids until sunset and feed them “enough” that they’ll sleep through the night, and sleep in without a single wakeup. Yes, exercise, fresh air, and nutrition are priorities and can contribute to a good night’s rest, but are not necessarily linked to the reason your child is restless at night. In fact you might even guarantee a skipped nap, or a worse night ahead of you with a sleep deprived, over-stimulated child (or adult for that matter). The sleep deprivation and overstimulation creates a pattern similar to jet-lag…When and if you eventually fall asleep you often toss and turn from vivid dreams, or wake through sleep cycles.

Those who put themselves to sleep, the best sleepers, lay down at the first sign of sleepiness. Their night wakings are uneventful because they can easily slip back into sleep through sleep cycles. Throughout the night all humans experience phases of deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). Those who struggle with putting themselves to sleep often wake cranky during REM sleep, and are unable to fall back to sleep without the sleep pressure that allowed them to initially pass out at the front end of their night. Babies wake more often as an evolutionary defense mechanism, and not necessarily out of hunger or because they are wet. As they grow, if these wake ups continue to be enforced by feedings or some other intervention they depend on, they begin to wake out of habit. In other words, if a baby has gotten into the habit of nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, or holding your hand to fall asleep they will need that crutch to fall back to sleep as they drift in and out of sleep cycles through the night.

So how do we teach self-soothing to a baby? The first and most important step in doing this is setting a rhythm and pattern to your days that quickly evolves into a routine. It’s important to establish daily eating, activity, and sleeping windows so there is never any confusion about what is coming next. Human beings thrive on routine. Consistency and Practice are key especially when teaching a new skill. Not to mention the comfort consistency brings with it and the anxiety it relieves. So we start there, finding a rhythm.


Hello families,

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones happy and healthy in body and mind. It may be that you’re sleep deprived, but we don’t need a vaccine for that…Reach out!

While we all transition into this new way of being, I recognize the many similarities the general population is sharing with families of newborns. Social distancing, washing hands, laundry, dishes…everyone is practicing impeccable hygiene, and dealing with overwhelming feelings. The difference is, you have a little one at home with a weak immune system, and as much as friends and family are wishing to visit they can’t…So you (and your partner) are on your own.

If your struggling with unanswered questions, can’t find a rhythm, and sleep has taken a back seat, please reach out. I can help. Sleep is essential in keeping our immune systems strong and our minds sharp. Nutrition and exercise are also priorities.

I can’t be there to bring you home cooked meals, or rock your baby to sleep, but I can give you the tools you need to get a better nights’ rest, and exercise your lungs. Doctors and nurses are discovering the life saving effects of having strong lungs. So get up, get out, move around, do the tummy time, and practice breathing with your baby.

I also teach breathing (pranayama) and meditation as well as yoga. Breathe with your baby, and they’ll catch on. They do as you do, so be the peaceful energy you wish to see in your child and show them the way.

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Sleep Training

When is the best time to start Sleep Training?

Sleep Training is a term I have struggled with because of the way it has been portrayed. Pediatricians, books, friends, family, and all those “helpful” strangers often agree, and will confidently preach that 12 weeks is the time to start Sleep Training. The term Sleep Training can be described in many ways, but in this context, what I believe the pediatricians and others agree on is that 12 weeks is the appropriate age and time when we should start to let our babies “cry it out” and soothe themselves to sleep. Unfortunately, it is often assumed that there is nothing we can do before this 12 week mark to help our babies become better sleepers and to minimize crying when that window of time for “training” opens up.

It is my goal, when working closely with a family, to have baby sleeping a 12hr night by the time they reach 12 weeks (or more accurately 12lbs), with a dream-feed just once through the night. There is a more peaceful and practical way to teach our babies to sleep without much crying. The sooner we start practicing habits that encourage patience, independence, and the ability to self-soothe, the sooner our families will be getting the rest we all need. Setting rhythms and simply allowing baby to sleep in their crib rather than our arms are some of the very first steps in teaching your baby to sleep through the night.

Support After Baby

Groups to join for community support, hand-me-downs and referrals:

  1. Facebook: Main Street Mamas
  2. Golden Gate Mother’s Group (GGMG)
  3. Next Door
  4. Facebook: Vail MOMS

Friends and Family:

  1. Meal Train – If you have a lot of friends offering to virtually help, ask one of them to set up a meal train for you.
  2. Laundry and dishes – help keeping up with housework is a great contribution. If family wants to help, ask them to pitch in here while you nurse, hold, and bond with your baby.
  3. Dad, Partner, #2…your primary support may go by many names;) – Take care of mom. Bring her water, make sure she’s fed, offer tea, and help remind her when baby last fed…Care for her so she can care for baby.

Being Prepared (Top 10):

  1. Receiving blankets – like the one’s at the hospital
  2. Velcro Swaddle – SwaddleMe
  3. Diapers/Wipes – Water Wipes
  4. Burp Cloths
  5. Handheld Medela breastpump
  6. Storage Bags &/or bottles
  7. Nursing tanks
  8. Robe or sweater/sweatshirt wrap you love
  9. Nursing pads
  10. Absorbent pads

*Email diorwiener@gmail.com to request a free mom-group-approved list of baby essentials and brands they love! After years of working with newborns and products I’ve developed a list of products I feel are essential. I also checked in with Facebook Mom’s Groups in San Francisco, CA and Vail, CO to see what they loved. It’s a list I wish I had when I was preparing for my babies. It feels especially important to provide this list to new moms now because they aren’t able to leave their homes to shop around. Moms jumped at the chance to share there WINS! Get your essential checklist today!!

Hired Help:

  1. Doula – also known as birth coach or post-birth supporter, is someone who stays with and assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth to provide emotional support and physical help if needed.
  2. Daytime Nanny – a nanny provides child care within the children’s family setting. Finding a nanny with newborn experience can be a challenge.
  3. Lactation Consultant – an allied health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding
  4. Night Nanny – also called baby nurses or newborn care specialists. Sometimes a nanny’s role is to simply watch over an infant while they sleep, others can sleep train your baby and offer valuable knowledge.
  5. Sleep Consultant – a professional that is trained and educated in specialized sleep education, that works with families and their babies to develop healthy sleep habits. Consultants can provide help by phone, email, &/or in person.

Week 1 Goals:

  • Get comfortable nursing
    • Feed every 3hrs: 40min or more
    • Eat: 7a, 10a, 1p, 4p, 7p, 10p, 1a, 4a…ideally, when baby wakes from sleep.
    • If you have an 8lb+ baby, do not wake for 1a feed
  • Learn to swaddle
    • Swaddle using hospital blanket (receiving blanket), and double swaddle with a Velcro wrap
    • Use 2 rolled up receiving blankets to tuck baby in and keep him snug on either side (clear from mouth)
    • Unswaddle to nurse…burp, change, hold, reswaddle, and lay down to sleep in crib or bassinet whenever possible. Also use the swaddle if napping in the car or stroller.
    • Napping windows: 8-10a, 11a-1p, 2p-4p, 5-7p (this is often a shorter nap) it is normal for a brand new baby to sleep up to 17hrs a day.