How To Get a Newborn Baby To Sleep
Helping you to make those first few weeks a little less exhausting with our top tips for getting your baby to sleep.
The first few weeks of parenthood can be exhausting, especially when sleep is irregular and not guaranteed. Newborn babies on average sleep 16-18 hours out of 24, however, this varies largely dependent on little one and is spread out over day and night. Sleeping is closely related to feeding, which happens every 2-3 hours, so you can generally expect for them to become drowsy approximately every 1 and a half - 2 hours. Although there are all these numbers, the most important thing to remember is to go with the flow & just relax when they are asleep.
You won’t necessarily be able to establish a consistent sleep routine, but following certain steps will mean you can create something close to that. Experts advise that you shouldn’t force sleep upon baby, but you can definitely soothe them in ways that help them to gently drift off and stay asleep for longer. Leaving you with some time to sleep yourself, do the household chores or simply have a little time for you.
When they’re asleep make sure that no-one disturbs them, as this will only wake your baby up again. Friends & family might want to cradle sleeping beauty, but you’ll have to be cruel to be kind and tell them to wait until little one’s awake.
Slowly stroke their nose to help them start to feel sleepy – it’s comforting and reassuring, which means they’re more likely to fall asleep. You can also use something like a soft feather or tip of a blanket.
The most traditional tried & tested method to help baby to sleep – rock them gently in your arms, crib or moses basket. The movement will help them to relax, leaving them feeling drowsy.
Sleep Wave (tip from sleep experts Julie & Heather)
“When we have a baby that’s crying we have parents check on them every five minutes. The ‘sleep wave’ is very rhythmic, predictable, almost hypnotic, and we want to set a pattern that the baby absolutely knows, recognises and comes to trust.”
Newborns want to be close to mum at all times, which makes things very exhausting for you. Whether it’s a blanket or muslin; wear it all day so that it smells of you, then when you put them down to sleep they’ll be able to sense being close to you.
It’s been proven that the more a little one feels like they’re back in the womb, the better they will sleep. Swaddling and swaddle bags recreate this feeling perfectly, meaning you can provide little one with the ultimate outside womb to sleep in.
To get them used to sleeping at night time and being awake during the day, whenever they’re due for a sleep, make sure it’s in a dark or dimmed room (even in day time). This will help to establish a more consistent sleep pattern.
Before they sleep & during the night time, you should try to stay as quiet and unemotional as possible. Babies are very receptive to mum, so avoid eye contact, use a quiet voice and don’t be emotional with them – it’s hard but it helps.
Rather than putting them down to sleep once they’re already asleep, put them down just as they’re starting to dose off. This will help them learn to soothe themselves, which means you won’t need to constantly rock, stroke and cradle for it to happen. “We also like parents to practice putting baby down awake, in other words, knowing that it’s time for sleeping.” (Heather & Julie)
It’s hard not to run to little one every time you hear them make a noise through the monitor, but waiting before you can to them is helpful. “You need to just wait because babies didn’t get the memo that when you’re in bed you’re supposed to be quiet, so they’re usually just resettling or trying to figure things out, and we don’t want to interrupt that.”
Some babies wake more through the night than others – if this is the case then wake them up between around 10pm and midnight for an extra late night feed. It will make them sleepy again so that they won’t wake up throughout the early morning hours.
Don’t be afraid to make noises during your baby's sleep. You might think you’ll wake them up, but they’re good at sleeping through background noise & it gets them used to hearing everyday noises like the TV, hoover and washing machine.
Heather and Julie believe that self-soothing is important, otherwise you’ll end up with a 7month old baby that still needs rocking, bouncing or nursing to sleep. By allowing them to send themselves to sleep, they’ll have a more established routine when they’re older.
Getting your baby to sleep is all about creating a consistent schedule throughout the daytime and a soothing one at night time, so they’re used to sleeping regularly. Newborn babies need to feel safe and comfortable in order to sleep, so you need to create an environment that keeps them calm. By following these guidelines, little one will sleep more peacefully, meaning you can too.