Newborn sleep, what’s the deal?
Newborn sleep, what’s the deal?
Congratulations on the birth of your newborn baby and welcome to the next chapter of your life! Becoming a parent is probably one of the most life changing, all consuming, wondrous yet terrifying transformations you will ever make. It’s a journey which will bring so much joy and often leave you asking, ‘How on earth do I navigate this?’.
Newborn sleep is disorganised and can be unpredictable in the first few weeks as it doesn’t follow the structure of more mature sleep. It is common and completely normal for newborns to sleep for frequent short periods throughout the day and night. Our babies face a huge transition as they move from the womb into this bright and busy world. During the newborn period, which is also known as the 4th trimester, babies need to be comforted, held and nourished. It is important to make them feel safe and secure as they get to know you and you them.
The good news is there are a number of things we can do to help our babies feel comfortable and adapt to this big wide world, including strategies to help them settle to sleep.
Nourish Baby Sleep’s Top Newborn Sleep Tips
1. Newborns get tired VERY quickly – A newborns wake window is only very short and usually ranges from 40-90 minutes within the first 12 weeks of life. This may mean that they can only tolerate being awake for a feed, nappy change and a cuddle before it is time for them to go back to sleep.
2. Ditch the schedule – Schedules can be really beneficial to help older babies sleep, but not something you should be worrying about in the first 3 months. If you would like to follow a loose routine; feed, play, sleep alongside wake windows can help you maintain some predictability in your day and avoid an overtired baby.
3. Dr Harvey Karp’s 5 S’ – American Paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp developed 5 ways to help calm and soothe a newborn baby and they work wonders in assisting a newborn to sleep.
- Swaddling helps your baby feel secure and calm, it decreases the moro or startle reflex and can help your baby drift off to sleep.
- Side/stomach hold your baby on their side or tummy to settle them. This can help induce the calming reflex, but remember that the only safe position for a baby to sleep is on their back, in accordance with the Red Nose Foundation.
- Shushing mimics the noises your baby heard in the womb, namely your blood rushing past them and has a very calming effect on newborn babies. If your baby is crying, use long loud shhh’s and reduce the intensity as your baby calms.
- Swinging mimics the movement babies feel in the womb. Always support your baby’s head and neck when swinging. To add an extra layer of comfort, try patting your baby’s bottom at the same time as you swing them.
- Sucking many newborns calm when sucking. Offer them the breast, bottle or dummy but it is important to rule out hunger by offering a feed, before offering the dummy in the newborn period.
4. Be Kind to yourself - The 4th trimester is often not only a huge transition for babies but also for parents. Be kind to yourselves, accept offers of assistance and ask for help if and when you need it.
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