Newborn Sleep Tips
Newborn Sleep Tips
The first few weeks of life with a newborn can be a complete whirlwind. It’s a magical time on the one hand, but can come with extremes of emotions on the other.
Many people are eager to get into a routine to give some predictability to their day, but I would suggest trying not to worry too much about schedules and rules in the early weeks. Try to focus on resting and recovering from the birth, getting feeding established, and getting to know your newborn. Accept support and help from family and friends where you can, so you can get as much rest as possible.
Newborn sleep: what to expect
While every baby is different, it’s really normal for newborn babies to wake frequently at night. Newborns don’t have any concept of day and night, and their tummies are small and so can only hold enough milk to last a few hours. Newborns should only be awake for 45-60 minutes before needing to sleep again during the early weeks. This is often just enough time for a feed, nappy change and a quick cuddle, before settling to sleep again. Up until around 8 weeks babies sleep 16-20 hours a day.
As babies need a lot of sleep in the first few months, it’s important to ensure they’re safe while they do so. The Lullaby Trust (www.lullabytrust.org.uk) highlights the importance of safe sleep in reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Trust recommends always placing your baby on their back to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket, with a firm, flat waterproof mattress in good condition. No loose bedding should be used. Instead use a secure swaddle, baby sleeping bag or a sheet and blankets tucked in, making sure baby doesn’t get too hot. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for every sleep situation for the first six months. You should never sleep on the sofa or in an armchair with your baby.
Establish healthy sleep habits
Newborns aren’t born with the ability to distinguish between night and day. You can help establish your baby’s circadian rhythm by taking them outside during the day and exposing them to lots of natural light. When your baby wakes at night, it can be tempting to sit in front of the TV tor look at your phone while feeding, but this can make it harder for you to settle back to sleep. Instead, download some podcasts to listen to and try to stay in the bedroom, with the lights dimmed and minimal interaction. This will teach your baby that night time is not for play, and will help you to get back to sleep more easily.
Establish a predictable bedtime routine.
When baby is a few weeks old, many people choose to start bedtime with a bath. It’s such a significantly different experience, babies soon learn that a bath means bedtime is coming. If your baby dislikes baths, you could give a massage instead. Follow this with a feed and a story or song, before placing him into his Moses basket or cot awake. Try to keep the routine the same every night and around 30 minutes long. Using the same routine each night will allow your baby to anticipate what is about to happen next.
As new parents it is important to remember that newborn sleep patterns are temporary. Your baby will eventually develop a sleep pattern that is more compatible with your own. Remember, if you don’t get off to the start that you hoped, it’s never too late to encourage good sleep.
For more advice and guidance, please visit www.slumbertots.com.