You’ve brought your bundle of joy home, you’re happy and of course a little bit tired and now you are wondering how to get them to sleep longer, or sleep through… new-born babies like to sleep; in fact they sleep 14 to 17 hours in a 24-hour period. But it is restless sleep, and your baby will wake easily.
The main reasons for your baby’s light sleeping are:
- They are hungry, their tummies are still very small and they need to eat every 2 to 4 hours (this includes night feeds) and means your sleep will also be broken
- Babies sleep time is mostly in REM mode *rapid eye movement – this is light, active sleep meaning the baby is restless and will wake up easily. This will improve as they get older and develop move solid sleeping patterns
- It can take up to four months for your new-born to distinguish between day and night.
So just how do you get your new-born to sleep so you can get yourself the much-needed sleep you want. We have some new-born sleep tips for you:
The way your baby lies down, and sleeps is all about safety for your infant. Keep the crib clear of any toys and teddies and swaddle them correctly – a loose blanket can lead to overheating or suffocation. Too many items in a crib can over stimulate your little one meaning they will not sleep.
If your little bundle allows swaddling, it is a great way to make the baby feel cosy, they have spent 9 months in a tight space, so most babies get comfort out of being swaddled (wrapping them firmly in a blanket). You can use the swaddle technique for up to 3-4 months.
Drowsy but awake:
Holding your baby is a great way to get them to sleep, however if you do this, they will get used to it and they won’t learn how to sleep on their own. Just before the baby falls asleep, lay them down in the crib and gently stroke or pat them so the baby learns to fall asleep in the crib.
Is a great way to sooth your baby before bedtime, studies suggest certain massage techniques produce melatonin (a sleep hormone) and will make your baby sleep more soundly.
The methodology of the dream-feed is to feed the baby while they are still asleep. Usually done just before mom goes to bed (around 10pm or 11pm). This will ensure the baby is full and will sleep a longer period at night and you can potentially avoid the next wake up feed.
Baby has been listening to your body for 9 months, so they are not used to complete silence. White noise is known to sooth babies at bedtime. Of course, not all babies are the same and you will soon know if your little one prefers complete silence.
Establish a bedtime routine early:
This is probably one of the best advice tips any expert will give you. Start early and the key here is consistency! Choose an easy routine to implement – bath, soothing lotion massage, read a story and feed before bedtime. You will not regret having a bedtime routine especially during those sleep regression stages.
Nappy / Diaper changing:
It is a good idea to change your baby’s nappy before the night feed. Try not to change them at all in the night after that, unless the baby has pooped, or the nappy is soaked through. Nappy changes will completely wake babies up and you may spend precious sleep hours getting them back to slumber.
Knowing baby sleep habits:
Newborns have awake periods – study these, they are usually anything from half an hour to an hour in the first four months. Put your baby to sleep as soon as they seem tired to avoid the baby getting overtired.
Baby’s room cannot be too hot or too cold. Overheating can lead to restless sleep and puts the baby at risk of SIDS. Babies cannot regulate their body temperature, so they get cold easily making them uncomfortable. You can check the baby’s temperature by touch – sweaty neck means they are too hot and if skin is cold add a few layers or a hat to keep heat in.
Lights out or dimmed:
As mentioned, babies do not distinguish between day and night for the first few months so dim the light and make the room darker, so the baby can learn that darkness means sleep time.
Leave baby to sleep:
New-born baby’s sleep is restless, so do not disturb them for every movement or noise you hear. Do not pick them up for the slightest movement or stir. Wait until you are certain the baby is awake before going in and picking them up.
Babies are not natural born sleepers (not through the night anyway) they develop their sleeping habits over time. By 6 months your baby will hopefully be sleeping six to eight hours a night, but we are all different, so patience is key here.