The arrival of a newborn brings so much joy, however, there’s no two ways about it - it’s tough! As it’s a time of sleepless nights, days and nights rolling into one, and therefore pretty exhausting for new parents. Understanding and supporting your newborn's sleep needs is so important for their growth, well-being and contentment.
In this blog, we’ll provide you with our top tips for newborn sleep, enabling you to start to put great sleep foundations in from the beginning and establish healthy sleep patterns for your new baby. 1. Embrace Newborn Sleep Patterns Newborns have irregular sleep patterns with multiple short sleep cycles throughout the day and night. Accepting and working with these patterns will help you adjust your expectations and cope better with interrupted sleep at the beginning. Newborns sleep approximately 14-17 hours a day, often in short increments.
2. An Optimal Sleep Environment
Creating a calm sleep environment really helps to promote better sleep for your newborn. Ensure the room is dimly lit, quiet, and at an optimal temperature. Consider using continuous white, pink or brown noise (a machine is better than a sleep aid toy) to mimic the familiar sounds of the womb. Swaddling your baby or using a swaddle sleeping bag also provides a sense of security and helps them to sleep more soundly in their crib or cot.
3. Follow a Routine Establishing a routine can help signal to your newborn that it's time to sleep. Create a simple and predictable sequence of activities before bedtime, such as a warm bath, gentle massage, a feed, reading a bedtime story and a lullaby. Consistency will help your baby to recognise sleep cues and settle in a much more content way.
4. Encourage Daytime Wakefulness Helping your newborn distinguish between day and night is really helpful for establishing a healthy sleep-wake cycle. During the day, engage your baby in activities such as playtime on a playmat, exposure to natural light, and social interaction. Keep the daytime environment bright and stimulating, and we recommend avoiding letting your baby sleep for prolonged periods.
5. Feed and Burp Strategically
Feeding is hugely important for your newborn's sleep. Ensure your baby is well-fed and burped before sleep to help them to be comfortable and prevent wakings due to hunger or gas. Consider incorporating a dream feed, offering a feed right before you go to bed, to help your baby (and you) to both be able to get a long stretch of sleep.
6. Safe Sleep Practices Creating a safe sleep environment in line with The Lullaby Trust’s guidelines helps to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Place your newborn on their back to sleep, on a firm and flat surface, such as a crib or bassinet. Remove any loose bedding, pillows, or soft toys from the sleep area. Keep the room at a safe temperature and dress your baby appropriately. 7. Take Shifts and Accept Available Support
Sharing the nighttime responsibilities with your partner or a trusted family member can really help with sleep deprivation. One of you takes “the first shift” and one of you takes the second, allowing each of you to get some uninterrupted sleep. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups for support during this time.
8. Trust Your Instincts
Trust your instincts and you’ll start to be able to tune into your baby's cues and signals more easily. Respond to their needs, whether it's hunger, discomfort, or the need for comfort.
Navigating newborn sleep can be a challenging journey for new parents. By embracing their sleep patterns, creating a calm sleep environment, establishing a routine, helping them to have a bit more awake time during the day, getting feeding and burping working well and practising safe sleep practices, you can start to provide your newborn with really great sleep foundations.