All you need to know about Newborn Sleep
There is nothing more incredible than the moment you are handed your newborn baby even though your are aware that your know very little about them let alone what to expect when it comes to newborn sleep, it is a moment of pure joy, of pure intoxicating love.
This little person who you have been carrying round in your womb for the last 9 months is finally here.
Discover my top 7 tips when it comes to Newborn Sleep
You may have spent the last forty weeks trying to discover as much as you can about how to care for your newborn but, however much you try and learn, nothing can really prepare you for that moment. Suddenly you have a little person who is totally and utterly dependant on you in every possible way. For many Mums this can be totally overwhelming and can often leave you feeling quite anxious at times. Not only are you left trying to work out how on earth to feed your new bundle of joy but how to comfort them and settle them to sleep.
Sleep and the First Few Weeks
In the very early days it may seem like your new baby has their days and nights muddled up and this is more than often because they do! While they are in the womb they borrow their mother’s circadian rhythm but once they are born they don’t have one of their own.
Setting their 24-hour clock so it becomes more like yours will enable them to distinguish the difference between day and night. A good way to do this is by exposing them to plenty of sunlight during the day and at night time ensure that the lights are dimmed and noise is kept to a minimum.
In the first weeks and months of your new baby’s life they will spend most of their time asleep unless they are being fed, winded or changed. As a gentle guideline, I always suggest to parents that their new baby is awake for no longer than 45 minutes to an hour at a time. Your baby really doesn’t need to be stimulated by anything other than the cuddles and gentle interaction that they already enjoy with you.
It is also important, not to have any expectations of your newborn when it comes to their sleep. Anatomically babies have very small tummies, only allowing them to feed little and often so will sleep in small two to three hour stints with slightly longer periods at night .As they grow and become stronger towards the end of the first six to eight weeks you will notice that the time they are able to sleep overnight increases. This is primarily down to the fact they now have bigger stomachs and can now produce enough melatonin to enable them to sleep for longer periods of time at night.
Your Sleep during the early weeks
Sleep deprivation is unfortunately inevitable when your new baby arrives. As much as you might feel like you need to get household chores done when your new baby sleeps, don’t! You must try to sleep during the day when your baby sleeps. These small cat naps will increase your power and energy to do your daily activities. ( Martyrdom doesn’t quite help in these situations , so don’ t try and be the perfect wife and mother so soon!) If you have a partner who can give baby their feeds, it is helpful for them to give the first night feed, allowing you to have a longer rest before the next feed.
If for some reason you are unable to sleep during the day, then you can try this exercise which is used by world leaders and CEO’s. The effect is said to feel like the equivalent of having one and a half hours sleep!
Lie down on your back, knees bent, arms out to the side and breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth remain in this position for 10 minutes.
What To do If your Newborn is not Sleeping
(My Top 7 Tips to Help Them Sleep)
If you baby is feeding well at the beginning and is not unwell or suffering from other health issues, then they should be able to fall asleep and stay asleep for several hours. If, however they aren’t and are only sleeping for 15 minutes stints then are several things that you can do to try and improve the situation.
1.Firstly, it is important to ensure that your baby is getting adequate milk. It does take roughly 6 weeks to establish your supply of breastmilk. Eating a well balanced diet is crucial for a good supply of milk, so it is important to look after yourself during this period.
There are various remedies to help if you think your milk supply is low. One commonly used one is the Alfafa complex tincture. This can be purchased from any Organic Pharmacy although it is important to speak to your doctor before taking any herbal remedies. If you are bottle feeing your baby and you think that they are not getting enough food, you may want to consider switching them onto another more filling formula.
2. As well as ensuring your baby is full after every feed so that they are able to fall asleep, it is also important to ensure the environment in which your baby sleeps is conducive to sleep. Sensory overload and over stimulation during the day and at night will prevent your baby from falling asleep. This inability to sleep because of the overload is often mistaken for colic.
3.One of the best things you can do to help to calm your new born baby it is to swaddle them as this helps to recreates the cosy space that they had in the womb. Swaddling also helps prevent the startle reflex which is often the reason why they wake up suddenly after 15 minutes.
4.During the first three months touch is also a very powerful calming tool. Holding and touching our babies and recreating the skin to skin contact that they had at birth , or allowing them to touch/ suck themselves at night time we help to stimulate the release of oxytocin hormones which has a calming effect and puts them in a good mood. It also helps to build up tolerance to stressful situations.
I recommend touching more firmly or patting as a hand on a fractious baby who seems to be fighting sleep. is often successful as it helps to make them feel contained. You may also like to cup their face with your hand and you can also put your check against their face too.
5.Sound is another powerful settling tool as your baby can hear even before they are born, and they are used to hearing the swishing sound of the blood running through your arteries. This noise is the equivalent to pink noise and there are lots of amazing apps and gadgets which you can use to recreate this noise to help your baby settle.
My favourite is the Whisbear ,which not only mimics the sounds they would have heard whilst in your womb but it also has a cry sensor that comes on every time you baby cries effectively helping him transition to the next sleep stage. Your voice is also equally powerful as they would have a heard this while they were inside your womb along with any soothing music that you may have been listening to whilst pregnant.
One thing is certain though your baby prefers the human voice over all sounds and most of all yours. So, when your newborn is struggling to settle it can be very effective to sing to them or talk to them in a calm and understanding way.
6.Your smell is also very effective when it comes to soothing them and inducing sleep. I often used to place a small amount of breastmilk on a muslin and place it in my babies’ cots. If you aren’t breastfeeding, then you can transfer your own smell by sleeping with a muslin in your bed for a few days or wearing it next to your skin under your top.
Did you know that your newborn baby can recognise your face an hour after birth? This means that they are able to see your facial expressions from day one. With this in mind, it is important to remember that you are your babies mirror, so you need to be demonstrating to them that you are calm and happy as opposed to distressed and anxious. If at any time when calming your newborn, you feel these emotions either hand them to someone else or leave them safely in their cot and take a moment to go out the room – pause breathe and gain your composure before coming back into comfort them.
7.Movement is also a wonderful calming tool and can be used to help your newborn sleep. During the day it is a good idea to take your baby out for a stroll in their pram or in the baby carrier. If your baby is fighting sleep in their cot, one way to try and calm them is to pick them up with one hand under their bottom and gently rock them from side to side.
And finally, …
Remember each day will be different as you get to know your baby. Don’t hold back on touching and holding them close during the first months of their life. It is important that you demonstrate to them that they are loved and are safe. All babies are born with the ability to self soothe so if you do see them reaching for the fingers or thumb to use before settling to sleep try and encourage it as it will only help you later. Most importantly ensure that you don’t overstimulate your baby, feeding, and sleeping are really the most important thing for them to be doing during the first weeks of their lives.
Enjoy this special and magical time and please try to relax as much as you possibly can. You deserve it after all your have been through!
If you would like any more baby sleep tips and suggestions, please do get in touch for your free 15-minute chat with me.