“Get as much sleep now because once baby is born, you won’t be getting much sleep at all!”
If you’re an expectant mum, I’m sure you’ve been told this hundreds of times but other mums and dads. While this can be one of the most annoying and useless tips it is more of a word of warning as it can absolutely feel this way with a new mum and most new mums struggle getting anywhere near enough sleep.
In that bubble of being a sleep deprived mum it can feel like there is no end. Plus hearing tales all those parents who seem to have magical babies that ‘sleep through’ from day can make it even worse.
But the sleepless nights and sleep deprivation does not last forever. While babies sleep little and often at first they will move through their sleep milestones over the course of a few months and before you know it you are both ‘sleeping through’
The first few weeks with a newborn can be hard when it comes to sleep. A newborn doesn’t get the concept of day and night so they don’t tend to have day naps and night sleeps like older babies and toddlers do. No matter what people boast, don’t expect too much with regards to sleep patterns at first. Your newborn’s sleep will be all over the shop so as they saying goes, ‘sleep when they do’.
What’s important though is to help your baby learn the difference between day and night time. You can do this by making a clear distinction between daytime and nigh time inside your home. During the day keep the house light and bright and carry out your normal daytime activities to teach baby to sense the vibe of daytimes. Then as night falls close the curtains, dim the lights, and drop the noise levels and the buzz in the house.
Establishing a bedtime routine from day one will allow your baby to wind down and prepare for bedtime and to recognise when bedtime is approaching. This is a really important part of life with a newborn as building structure and routine for both your baby and yourself will help you get through the period of those early erratic sleep patterns a little faster.
What is Enough Sleep
One of the most common questions asked by first-time moms is: “Is my baby getting enough sleep?” For some days it feels like they are not sleeping at all and some days they seem to be wanting to nap a lot more. On average, a newborn will need a total of about 15 – 16 hours sleep. As they get closer to 12 months of age they will need a couple of hours less than this. But do not worry if they are getting a little more, or a little less as no two babies are the same.
If you do have any concerns with regards to how much your newborn or child is sleeping, always consult a medical professional.
As babies want to be fed on a 24 hour cycle your newborn will not be sleeping for 6 to 8 hours straight through the night. According to webmd, breastfed babies need to feed every 1.5 to 3 hours while bottle-fed babies every 2 to 3 hours initially and every 3 to 4 hours when they are a bit older. You can expect your baby to start sleeping through the night ie 6 hours straight from anywhere from 3 months onwards. Once again remember that your baby is different and this is just an average. What you can expect is that they will eventually start sleeping through the night.
Every new parent wants to be sure that they’re creating a safe environment for their newborn. Setting up how your baby will sleep is essentials. There are different sleeping arrangements that parents can check out and it all comes down to personal preference and how your household works.
Co-Sleeping vs Bed-Sharing
The two most popular sleeping arrangements are to co-sleep which is sleeping in close proximity to your baby but not on the same surface or to bed-share which is sleeping with your baby lying next to you on the same surface ie your bed. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a cot by the side of your bed. This type of room-sharing is said to decrease your baby’s risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.
Strategies to Promote Safe Sleeping
- Infants should be slept in their own cot/bassinet in the same room as the parents.
- If one or both parents smoke, take drugs including prescription medication that induce drowsiness or feeling less aware, are over tired or have had alcohol, the infant should not be slept on the same surface.
- Infants should not be slept on a couch.
- Infants should be slept to the side of an adult, not in between two adults. They should not be slept with other children or pets.
- Adult bedding and pillows should be moved away from the infant.
- Infants should not be able to fall off the bed. The bed should be moved away from the wall to prevent the infant from getting trapped between the bed and the wall. The mattress can be placed on the floor to reduce the risk of injury to the infant.
Creating a Newborn Bedtime Routine
As mentioned earlier, it is important to start with a bedtime routine from day one. This routine would need to be work within your family and the household. If it works for you try giving baby a warm soothing bath, followed by a gentle massage. Then pop them into a fresh clean nappy and sleepwear, give them a feed. Sing them a lullaby or play some soothing sounds then gently lay them down in their cot on their back.
It is important to start your baby’s routine before they become too tired. Once they have passed the tired mark and become overtired, it could become difficult to get them to settle. Some signs of an overtired baby are when the rub their eyes or tug on their ears. You may notice that their eyebrows get red. They may start yawning.
The world is not a quite place. Even at night you still can hear sounds although they may be a little softer. As adults we have learned to block out most of these sounds . But this not something babies can do as their sensory systems are still very heightened. That is where you can help by introducing white noise that helps drown out the sounds that could wake them. There are many sound machines on the market and we recommend ones such as the Dreakmaker , Baby Shusher or the 5 in 1 Aroma Snooze Sleep Aid Vaporiser.
Once you have created a safe sleep environment and a good sleep routine for your baby you will find that baby will fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. Always bear in mind that every baby is different and each strategy should be adapted to your baby’s specific needs and environment.