Congratulations on the birth of your newborn! You have waited a long time to meet your new edition and now they are suddenly here! Can you believe it?
I am sure many of you have bought many books, been to the classes and read many articles and joined mum groups and still feel slightly overwhelmed by this massive life changing event that has just happened.
Here I want to talk a bit about newborn sleep and some of what to expect and of course what not to expect! In my experience as a nanny and as a mum I have yet to see a class or group informing parents to be on sleep expectations so I for one felt like had been hit by a 10 ton truck and totally unprepared when the sleep deprivation hit me. Of course we all know a good night’s sleep will be a distant memory for a long time but no one really explained to me how to cope with it or anything about new-born sleep.
So how many times have we head the phase “I slept like a baby last night”..? Well, in reality babies don’t sleep all night and we find ourselves going round in circles feeding, changing, pacing the bedroom floor and feeding again to get this tiny bundle to settle back into a peaceful slumber. Honestly we just want to sleep like a log, uninterrupted! I remember well my husband used to say “you slept well, you slept 6 hours last night”, what he failed to understand that those 6 hours were broken up into 3 or 4 segments and that is the killer…broken sleep.
So when you arrive home from the hospital and start really bonding and getting to know your baby you will notice how much they do sleep. In the day for sure! This is because the maternal melatonin tank is full. Melatonin is the sleep hormone. It’s what helps us all sleep. And then as the days turn into weeks pass at a crazy speed you will notice your baby is awake longer periods. This is because the maternal melatonin is wearing off. And we need to help sleep along...
How can we start to top up those levels of melatonin in your baby body? Well, night time breast feeding for one has a higher content of this hormone so if breastfeeding is going well for you then feed away. Having a dark room with black out blinds help hugely. The dark triggers the melatonin to start working.
It’s a great idea to be aware of your baby’s awake windows so as they grow you know and can understand how long they are capable of staying awake.
Here is a guide for you but please remember this is just a guide and all babies are different. These awake times may vary 5 or 10 minutes either side from baby to baby.
Newborn 40-60 minutes
3 - 6 weeks old 1 hour 25 – 1 hour 30
6 - 9 weeks old 1 hour 30 minutes
9 - 12 weeks old 1 hour 30 – 1 hour 45 minutes
So I will leave you with a few of my top tips for newborn sleep….
Place you baby on their back in a dark, quiet warm room for all sleeps.
Use white noise at all nap and bedtimes. My favourite white noise machine is the “baby shusher” available on amazon. But your phone youtube app works just as well!
Swaddle. Swaddle. Swaddle. Newborns love to feel closeness and wrapped up like they did in your womb, after all it’s all they have known really!
And what not to expect, well don’t expect sleep to be an easy natural thing for your baby. Many don’t know or really believe that sleep is a learned skill. This skill is nurtured and taught over time, after your baby has made their way through the 4 month sleep regression or as I like to call it a 4 month sleep “progression” and can be easy for some and others have to work a little harder at it. Many days you may question why your baby is not sleeping, is it colic, is it wind, or are they hungry, do they have a sore tummy? Just breathe, go with it and it will all make sense…
Of course I could go on and on about this topic but for today we shall leave it here.
If you feel you would like some more information on newborn sleep don’t hesitate to book in a free discovery call to dive a little deeper into this new era!
I can't wait to chat to you!
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant