Katie Hilton – Bsc Registered Midwife, Msc Registered Health Visitor
Are you wandering around in a daze? Chances are you have a newborn baby and are struggling to develop an effective sleep pattern. To help you out we’ve collated all the best-tried and tested sleep advice to help you soothe and calm your little one into a deep, long sleep….
Do What Works
One of the most unique things about babies is that their sleep patterns can change frequently. If you’re finding this phase particularly tricky at the moment, relish the thought that next week will probably be better. Well-meaning relatives and friends and often strangers will offer you sleep advice and fill you with stories related to their children. Ultimately this is your baby, so do what works for you.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
If you have recently had your first baby, you will truly find that sleeping when they sleep helps. Forget about the housework, relax in your PJs and take a well-deserved nap. You may have thoughts of your home being a vision of bliss when your visitors pop round, but in all honestly they will only want to look at your adorable baby and do you really want to be friends with people who judge you based on your domestic skills. If you have other children ask a friend or relative to take them somewhere exciting for the afternoon or hand over responsibility to dad!
Day and Night
Your baby will start to recognize the difference between day and night at roughly 12 weeks of age. Teaching them the difference between day and night from birth will be extra helpful. During the daytime ensure the room is light with the curtains wide open, don’t worry about noise (even when baby is sleeping), interact with your baby lots and spend time playing. It is actually recommended to avoid tip-toeing around the house to encourage your baby to sleep through background noise. When your baby wakes during the night, try to keep the lighting as dim as possible, avoid stimulating him too much and pop him back down in his moses basket or cot as soon as he has finished feeding and been changed. Your baby will soon begin to understand that playtime is for during the day and the nigh is for sleep.
Keep to Routine
It is never too early to consider implementing a bedtime routine. This time will be about figuring out what works for both you and your baby. Top bedtime activities can include bathtime, sleepwear/pyjamas, fresh nappy, feed, lots of cuddles and a story or lullaby. Try to keep the routine simple and above all else be consistent, your baby will soon start to recognize the activity and associate it with bedtime.
Rocking your baby can be a very effective way to help him drift back off to sleep during the first few months after birth. However, try to use this method less as he grows and develops. Ultimately you will want your baby to learn to fall asleep by himself. Slowly and gradually breaking the association between rocking or feeding and falling asleep will help to eventually take you out of the sleep equation. Whilst all babies will need to feed during the night, it is advisable to leave your little one for a short period to see if he settles down alone rather than rushing into the room.