I am often asked " Rach, what are your best tips for new-born sleep"? Babies just sleep heaps when they are born right and we don’t need to do much – or do we?
Well, yes and no! New-born sleep is so very fragile, beautiful and precious! I remember thinking myself when I came home from the hospital that this new mum lark was a synch! Leo just sleeps- all day! Then BOOM! Three weeks later he started to wake up to the world and wow, how day time sleep started to change. Did you notice that? Why is this? Well this is because the maternal melatonin that is passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy now starts to deplete and run out. And you need to start helping to top up those levels again to prepare for naps and night sleep. New-born sleep is something that changes so much and so quickly. The fourth trimester is all about SUPPORTING your baby to sleep, not sleep training them. Supporting them by feeding to sleep cuddling to sleep, swaddling and rocking. You may think these are “bad habits” but no, it’s supporting your baby to sleep, helping them. Remember your baby has just spent 9 months all wrapped up in your tummy being rocked when you walk, all squished and bundled up because hey, there ain't much space in there and she has fallen asleep to your voice. Your baby has eaten on demand whenever they felt hungry. So now outside in this big world it’s time to help them along be re-creating these motions in the fourth trimester. Here are my top 5 tips for your new-born sleep… 1. Ensure you baby is fed well A hungry baby won’t fall asleep easily or stay asleep for long if they are hungry! If you are breastfeeding and have any concerns or questions then seek advice from your health visitor or a lactation consultant and pronto. The sooner feeding concerns are sorted out the better for all the family and it gives you peace of mind you can do it! 2. Swaddle This is just so important because for 9 months your baby has been all squished up, warm and cosy in mummy’s tummy. Swaddling will help simulate this sensation and help your baby feel calmer. It also prevents the Moro reflex, that fight of flight survival mode.
I hear many parents say my baby does not like the swaddle but most of the time it is the wrong swaddle or not done correctly. I must tell you your baby loved being all squished up in your tummy, it made them feel safe, secure and warm. Swaddling mimics this.
3. White or pink noise
This will drown out external noises and again simulate the constant noise they heard in the womb. Use it at every nap and all through the night. How loud? It is recommend around 70Dcb which is almost as loud as a hoover! But I say if it feels uncomfortably loud for you then it will also feel uncomfortably loud for your baby. Turn it down a few notches, it still needs to be rather loud and you may be surprised how loud your baby actually likes it.
One of my new born families I worked with told me as soon as Dad turned the white noise down – BOOM! Baby woke up!
4. Awake windows
Watch out for your child’s age appropriate awake windows. Too early and your baby won’t fall asleep for a while and may get bored in the cot and find it hard to fall asleep. Too late and you have an overtired baby on your hands. The cortisol is coursing through their body and working against all that awesome melatonin trying so hard to work. See my blog on AWAKE WINDOWS BY AGE to give you a guide here
5. Support their sleep
At such a young age new-borns (0-12 wks.) need to get their sleep in somehow. If that means a little extra cuddling or a little bit more rocking then go for it! Sling wearing can be hugely beneficial for all as it frees up your hands to get on with those jobs you have been meaning to do for ages and your baby will LOVE being all snuggled up close to you to sleep.
If you would like to try help your baby off to sleep in their cot, the side settle method can help greatly to help them fall into that lull by supporting them on their side while you pat their bottom rhythmically then slowly and gently roll them onto their back once they are in a deep sleep.
ALWAYS ENSURE YOU LAY YOUR BABY IS ON THEIR BACK TO SLEEP
Now you may ask, what if you are out for a walk in the park or to the shops and your baby naps in the pram would you still recommend swaddling and white noise?
Yes I would. When your baby is under 4 months, shows NO signs yet of rolling then yes, swaddle your baby Mama! This is being consistent with naps at home and in the cot at night so go for it!
Want to know more? Jump over to my IG tagged video here with Rachel at Barefoot Birthing and watch as we talked all about newborn sleep in the 4th trimester here
Please share this blog with a friend who has a new-born in their life, it may just help a little!
Sleep well families and say “hello” to peaceful sleep,