It’s said that the first three months of life are like the fourth trimester of pregnancy, so simulating a womb-like experience will help your new baby settle off to sleep. They need to feel safe and secure and connected to you, and feed and sleep at will.
A newborn will sleep for 16-20 hours in a 24 hour period … although definitely not in one stretch! In the first three months, babies rarely sleep for more than four hours at a time despite how much their sleep-deprived parents will it! This is because they have tiny tummies and need to feed often.
1. Use a swaddle or sleeping bag.
Swaddling your baby is a great comforting tool making them feel warm and safe and replicates that feeling of being in the womb. I also creates a strong positive sleep association that can signal to your baby that it’s time for sleep.
2. Have an idea of your age appropriate wake windows.
Birth – 45 minutes
3 weeks – 60 minutes
6 weeks – 1 hour 15 minutes
9 weeks – 1 hour 30 minutes
12 weeks – 1 hour 45 minutes
3. Recognise your babies sleep signals
Early signs that your baby is tired are staring into space and can’t hold your gaze.
As your baby gets more tired, they will clench their fists, grizzle, screw up their face, and jerk their arms and legs.
Babies may rub their eyes, have red eyebrows and yawn.
4. Frequent feeding.
Newborns need to eat very often throughout the day and night as they grow. Offering full feeds every 2-3 hours helps your little one have the required amount of calories needed throughout the day.
5. Bright light first thing in the morning.
It’s very common for your newborn to not understand the difference between night and day. To help support their circadian rhythm development, bring your little one into a bright space first thing in the morning to signal that it’s now daytime and that their night sleep is over.
6. Practice putting baby down in their own bed awake.
This is an opportunity for them to get familiar with their sleep space and not about self-settling. Babies need a lot of hands on support to get to sleep such as rocking, feeding and shushing. Newborn babies will often feed themselves to sleep, which is fine or in expert speak: ‘developmentally appropriate’.
7. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a bassinet or cot in the same room as you, ideally with a new mattress. If a mattress has been used before, make sure it is clean, firm and flat, with no hollow, and that it fits the base snugly.
8. Always put baby to sleep on their back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death, and place them near the end of the bassinet or cot.
Safe bedding –
Fitted sheet securely fitted, no soft surfaces or bulky bedding including cot bumpers, pillows and soft toys
Dress baby appropriately, use tog rated sleeping bag, avoid blankets, beanies.
Use a snug swaddle/sleeping bag that is loose around their hips & ensure arms unswaddle once showing signs of rolling.
Always place baby on their back for sleep near the end of the bassinet or cot.