Often the biggest adjustment that happens when you bring the baby home is dealing with the lack of sleep. You now have a little human being completely dependent on you, unable to go more than a few hours without milk.
No parent wants to get up more than they have to, so here are some great tips to help your newborn sleep.
Sleep Promotes Sleep
Firstly, there is a myth that floats around in those early months that if you keep your newborn up during the day, they will sleep better at night. It’s not true at all. In fact, sleep promotes sleep. The better your little one sleeps during the day, the better they are likely to sleep at night.
Newborns can sleep anywhere, whether it’s in your car, in the pram or in a carrier. And, of course, one of your favourite places to sleep is on you. In those early days, I really believe that you can’t spoil a newborn. If you are happy to let them sleep on you then go for it!
You will notice that as the day goes on, your newborn will get harder and harder to get down for a nap – just like us, they are tired by the end of the day and will need a little extra help. If they won’t settle for you, pop them into your baby wrap where they are nice and snug. This was our go-to in those early days, ensuring that much-needed sleep to get them through the afternoon.
Day Vs Night
Now, this is the big one – making sure your newborn knows the difference between day and night. Babies aren’t born knowing the difference, it’s something they have to learn in time. But there are ways to encourage it:
- Wake three-hourly for feeds. There’s a certain amount of milk babies need in those early days, so try to get them to have it in the daylight hours. If you wake to feed during the day, then you know they are nice and full by night time and you will be able to let them go for longer stretches.
- Sleep in the light. Sleep your newborn out with you during the day. Have the curtains open, noise all around them, and let them know it’s daytime. At night time, sleep them in a quiet, dark space. This will help them learn the difference between day and night.
- Go outside. A bit of sunshine and fresh air can do a world of good when it comes to setting your baby’s internal body clock. Take them outside during the day, and when they are a bit older, you can even pop them on a mat on the ground for nappy free time.
- Bedtime routine. I know, people hate the word routine, but this is a very flexible one and will actually do more good for you than the baby. Start off with a bath, which is nice and warm and will relax your baby, then head into a dark room for the final feed of the day. Have all noise off (no TV, etc), and encourage a calm environment. All this will help your baby unwind and signal to them that it is nighttime.
- It works for some, not for others, but it is also a good idea to try and feed your bub, just before you go to bed, so you get to sleep the longest stretch of the night with them.
Sleeping Out and About
While you may enjoy snuggling at home for a little while after your little one arrives, life doesn’t stop. So how do you ensure sleep while you are out and about?
Firstly, invest in a good pram. Many prams come with car seat attachments, but it isn’t ideal to sleep your baby in a car seat all day long, as it doesn’t have them in an ideal sleep position. Instead, invest in a bassinet or a pram that lies completely flat.
Try and replicate exactly what you do at home. If you swaddle, bring the swaddle out with you. If you use white noise, get a portable white noise machine. Your baby will learn to recognise these sleep cues and it will help them sleep even better when you are out and about.
Don’t forget your handy carrier. Sometimes, when you are out, babies can get a little overstimulated, which makes them harder to get down for a nap. By cuddling them against you in a carrier, they are more likely to drift off with a little help.
Remember: this too shall pass. Those newborn days are a big adjustment, so just take one day at a time. If you are having trouble with your baby’s sleep, there are plenty of programs out there that can support you. Just speak to your GP and get some recommendations. There is nothing wrong with finding the right help and support to see you through.
Felicity is a mum to her two daughters, Cassandra (4) and Vivienne (2) and her son Elliot (3 months). Her passion is the parenting industry and creating a community where everyone feels welcome no matter how they choose to parent. It is this passion that led to the creation of The Baby Vine.