New baby sleeping tips
Your baby’s first few months can wear you both out; sometimes babies sleep a lot while other times, they won’t sleep so much but don’t worry, it’s normal! We’ve been looking at ways to help your baby develop a good night-time routine early on, so that you can grab some more rest, too!
Babies are born with a ‘startle’ reflex, when they feel as if they are falling. This sensation causes jerking movements which makes them wake up. Keeping babies in a tight swaddle will help to prevent them from doing this and enable them to sleep both better and longer.
2. Give newborns the chance to fall asleep on their own
Babies’ natural circadian rhythms (the sleep/wake cycle) start to develop at around 6 weeks. This is when you can try and encourage them to settle themselves by putting them down on their back when they are sleepy but still awake. Don’t get into the habit of rocking them to sleep, though, or they will come to depend on this and you will find it harder to break later on.
3. Teach the difference between night and day
Newborns will sleep a lot at first, with no real difference between day and night-time sleep. You can help to teach them the difference by keeping lights on and sounds at normal levels during the day whilst at night, you should turn off the lights or use a night-light and then feed and change them as calmly and quietly as possible, keeping any interaction to a calm, gentle minimum.
4. Establish a bedtime routine
The sooner you can establish a bedtime routine, the better. This would typically be a nice warm bath followed by a massage, then offering a feed before popping baby into the cot. You can also start to read little stories – at this stage they don’t need to be long but it will be a good habit to get into for when baby is older.
Newborns will need to nap quite often during the day, which can be very frustrating for parents when they keep you awake at night! Don’t try to reduce their naps, as you will end up with an overtired baby and a worse night’s sleep than usual! However, try to avoid naps too close to bed – a bedtime routine can help you with this.
6. Don’t worry!
Above all else, try not to stress about the ‘sleep thing’; babies pick up on the stress and become even more restless. Instead, cherish the time with your little one and learn to nap at the same time if you can. Encourage your partner to help out with baby as much as possible while you get some well-earned rest. And if friends or family visit and offer to lend a hand, don’t be too proud and turn it down. Take the help while it is on offer. And remember - your baby will learn to sleep; some are just better at it than others!