For new parents, it can be hard to know what they should be doing (or not doing) when it comes to their baby’s sleep habits and routines. Here are a few sleep tips for newborns from Natalie, our sleep consultant, to equip you to navigate this period of time with confidence. Just a note: parenting isn’t easy, and it’s important to remind yourself that you’re doing a great job! Seasons (including the challenging ones) will come and go. Be kind to yourself!
1.Fragmented and Irregular sleep patterns are completely normal for newborns
Newborn sleep lengths can range from 20 minutes to 3 to 4 hours at a time. Also, having NO pattern with sleep is completely normal until around 4 months of age.
3. A 24hr period of newborn and sleep can look like:
– Baby wanting to return to sleep relatively quickly after a feed
– A big awake time from a feed to a feed
– A cluster feeding session that will involve frequent feeds and short contact naps in between the feeding sessions.
4. Newborns rely on patterns or cues to understand the difference of day and night sleep
Newborns don’t have the hormones needed to govern day and night patterns. It is not until 5-6 months of age that day-night hormones (such as melatonin) circulate in sufficient levels to influence a baby’s behaviour during day and night sleep. Cues such as light, noise and social activity during the day and lower lighting, quiet voices or quieter feeding sessions can help baby understand that there is difference between day and night sleep before 5 months of age.
5. Sleep and Hunger cues can look very similar in the early days
Be kind to yourself as you get to know your little one. Use a process of elimination to work out what baby may need next.
6. We can’t make a baby sleep but we can offer them the time and cues to prepare for sleep
Newborns often respond positively to experiences that replicate their time in utero, such as: gentle rocking, cuddles, swaddling, rhythmic swaying and gentle voices. If baby is not responding to sleep cues, it is totally ok to end the experience and try again a little later on.
Post written by Natalie Van Winckel (sleep consultant).