Baby sleep is a hot topic in the parenting world. In the early days, you may feel like all your newborn baby seems to do is eat, sleep, poop, repeat but that’s completely normal.
As your baby grows it’s a good idea to get into a routine which will help your little one sleep. You may notice their sleep patterns can change and vary too.
Try not to worry too much - these days (and nights!) are going to pass you by in a sleep deprived whirlwind!
It’s a huge transition for your baby when they are born - they’ve spent the last nine months snuggled in the dark haven of your womb so, naturally, they may find their new surroundings a little bit overwhelming at times.
Newborns need to learn the differences between nighttime and daytime as soon as they are born.
Throughout the day it’s a great idea to play with your baby, keep the curtains open and if you can, try to get out and about with the pram or pushchair and allow baby to have plenty of fresh air. Try not to worry too much about making noise throughout the day - chances are little one will already be familiar with the noises of the dog barking, washing machine whirring and the hoover whining - as their hearing has developed whilst they were growing in the womb.
During the night it’s a good idea to keep conversations to a minimum, the lights should be as dim as possible, don’t change your baby’s nappy unless you absolutely need to. As soon as you have fed/changed your little one pop them straight back down to sleep. Gradually, your little one will learn and discover that nighttime is when we should sleep and daytime is when we should have fun!
Newborns need to sleep in their own crib, cot or Moses basket in the same room as you - for the first 6 months of their life, at least.
Babies should sleep flat on their backs in the ‘feet to foot’ position. This means their feet are at the end of the crib, cot, or Moses basket. Sleeping in this position will prevent your baby from moving down under their blanket.
How to put your baby in the 'feet to foot' position: Tuck the covers in securely under your baby's arms so they can't slip over their head. Use 1 or more layers of lightweight blankets.
Use a baby mattress that's firm, flat, well-fitting, clean and waterproof on the outside. Cover the mattress with a single sheet.
Don't use duvets, quilts, baby nests, wedges, bedding rolls or pillows.
Make sure their feet are at the end of their cot, crib or Moses basket.
Be prepared for some sleepless nights when baby arrives because it is absolutely normal and necessary for a newborn to wake during the night, as they need to feed. Newborn tummies are still so small (they go from the size of a marble, to a walnut to a golf ball in the first 10 days!) so they tend to feed little and often.
If you can, try to sleep when your baby sleeps - don’t feel guilty for taking a nap during the day with your baby - just forget about the housework for a little while and make sure you prioritise you and your little one.
During night time nappy changes make sure you don’t stimulate little one too much - keep the lights as dim as possible in order to keep little one in a sleepy state. Try not to make their night time waking too exciting.
As they grow, it can be a good idea to provide your baby with a comforter - whether it’s a dummy, a soft toy (suitable for their age) or a comforting blanket. Having something like this may help your little one settle again.
As your baby gets older they may be waking for different reasons - teething can cause havoc for some - it’s really important to always respond to their cries as calmly as you can.
Remember all babies are different - some will need more or less sleep than others. The amount of sleep your baby needs will also vary as they grow.
The majority of newborns actually spend more time asleep than they do awake. You can expect your newborn to sleep from as little to as 8 hours, to as much as 18 hours a day.
Ensure your little one doesn’t get too cold or too hot as this can disrupt their sleep. The best temperature for the room is around 18c.
As your baby gets older you will notice they feed less through the night and that they will be able to sleep for longer periods of time.
By around 4 months baby might be spending around twice as long sleeping through the night than they do throughout the day.
By around 3-6 months your baby may sleep for solid stints of around 8 hours at a time.
You might notice the night feeds drop completely around this time but do keep in mind that hunger or teething pains may still wake your little one through the night (or they may just need a cuddle!)
By around 6-12 months some babies can sleep for around 12 hours through the night.
The sooner you can get into a little routine with your little one the better you will both feel. Routines and familiarity are calming and soothing and should hopefully help your baby sleep.
Realistically you can expect to fully establish a routine by the time your baby is around 3 months old.
From about the age of 6 weeks it can be a good idea to start letting your baby learn about dropping off to sleep on their own. Rather than you rocking or shushing them to sleep, you can pop baby down flat on their back in their crib - timing is key for this, they need to be calm and drowsy - they should hopefully drift off on their own accord. This is a skill which should hopefully make life easier for you both as they will know how to get back to sleep without relying on you.
Some basic bedtime routines include: bathing baby, changing them into clean clothes/nappy, reading a bedtime story, singing lullabies, playing a wind up musical mobile, playing white noise or using a night light - to create a soothing atmosphere.
It might be a nice idea to take up ‘baby massage’ classes - they can be a lovely bonding experience for you both and can help your little one relax before bedtime.
We’re sure that in time you’ll find a routine that works for you and your baby.
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