5 Essential Tips for Better Newborn Sleep

5 Essential Tips for Better Newborn Sleep

1. Feed, play, sleep routine: 

This is a common method for creating a schedule or some structure for infants. It involves following a specific sequence of activities in a repeating pattern throughout the day.

      • The first phase, "feeding," involves giving the baby milk (either breast milk or formula) when they wake up. This ensures that the baby is nourished and content before proceeding to the next step.
      • The second phase, "play," includes involving the baby in interactive and stimulating activities. This can encompass playing with toys, exploring their surroundings, or interacting with caregivers. Playtime helps the baby use up energy, learn and acquire new skills, and supports cognitive and physical development. All of this contributes to creating a sense of tiredness, preparing the baby for the next step.
      • The last phase is "sleep." Following feeding and playtime, the baby is encouraged to sleep. The consistent routine of feeding and play before sleep sends a signal to the baby that it's time to rest. This routine assists in establishing healthy sleep patterns and allows the baby's body and mind to relax, making it easier for them to transition into sleep.

    2. Keep their calories up during the day:

    Feed your baby every 2.5-3 hours to ensure they are getting enough calories during the day to avoid reverse cycling. ‘Reverse cycling’ in babies refers to a pattern of feeding and sleep behavior in which a baby nurses or feeds more frequently during the nighttime hours and takes shorter or less frequent feeds during the day.

    3. Create a conducive sleep environment:

    • Keep the room dark: It's perfectly fine to let your newborn sleep in a well-lit room until they are around 8 weeks old. This is typically when the maternal melatonin (the hormone that makes us feel sleepy) from the mother's placenta starts to fade, and the baby begins producing their own melatonin. 
      Getting blackout blinds or curtains can make a big difference in how well and how long your baby sleeps. Darkness is essential for promoting rest because it signals to the body that it's time to relax and helps the baby produce melatonin. By investing in blackout blinds or curtains, parents can significantly enhance their baby's sleep, allowing for more peaceful and extended periods of rest.
      Avoid using a night light for your baby's sleep. Use it only for nighttime feeds, and remember to turn it off when it's time for your baby to settle down and sleep.
    • Use a sound machine: White noise, along with brown or pink noise, is generated by mixing different sound frequencies to create a soft and uninterrupted shushing sound. This kind of noise has a comforting influence and can effectively cover up other external sounds, like noisy cars or barking dogs, to create a peaceful sleeping atmosphere for your baby. 
      When selecting a sound machine, it's crucial to choose one that plays continuously throughout your baby's sleep, as some machines only run for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, potentially waking and interrupting their sleep.
    • Temperature: It's important to understand that there isn't sufficient evidence to indicate that maintaining a specific room temperature reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Instead, Red Nose recommends ensuring that the baby is dressed appropriately for the room temperature and using lightweight bedding that allows for good airflow. 
      As a general rule of thumb, it is suggested that parents dress their babies in one extra layer of clothing compared to what adults wear. This is because babies are not yet able to regulate their body temperature effectively until they are around 12 months old.
    • The cot: To provide a safe sleeping environment for your baby, make sure the crib or bassinet is flat and firm, free from any bumpers, toys, or loose bedding. It's a good idea to avoid putting the crib near a radiator or any heat source. Also, it's best to keep the crib away from drafty windows (for more details, refer to Red Nose Sleep Safety Guidelines). 

    4. Watch their Wake Windows:

    A baby's "wake window" refers to how long they can stay awake between periods of sleep, indicating their energy levels or ability to remain awake. The wake window begins when you take them out of their crib and ends when you put them back in, regardless of the actual time they fall asleep.

    While each baby is unique and should be treated accordingly, they tend to follow a somewhat similar biological pattern. The length of a wake window can vary among babies, especially as they transition into young toddlers with evolving sleep needs. Additionally, wake windows may change as babies reach various developmental milestones like sitting up, crawling, or standing.
    It's important to recognise that every baby has distinct sleep requirements. Some may need more sleep than others their age, while some may need less. The suggested wake windows mentioned earlier are ranges, so it might take some trial and error to determine your baby's ideal timing. This is why it's crucial to pay attention to your baby's sleepy signals and observe their mood and behaviour after naps. Are they content or fussy? This can help you adjust their sleep schedule to suit their needs.

    5. Learn your baby’s sleepy cues:

    While wake windows are a useful tool for parents to plan their baby's naps and daily activities, it's just as crucial for parents to be able to identify and comprehend the signs of sleepiness, often referred to as "sleepy cues." As previously mentioned, babies' sleep needs shift as they grow, which means their wake window tends to get longer as they get older. Therefore, it's essential to notice a baby's mood, energy levels, and cues to decide the right time to put them down for a nap.
    If you need more information on Newborn Sleep and how to lay a solid sleep foundation for your little one, I have Sleep Guides available for you from Newborn to 24 months of age. These Sleep Guides everything you need to know about baby & toddler sleep and provides you with research-based knowledge and age-appropriate strategies to help not only your little one, but the whole family, have restful nights.
    If you’re wanting 1:1 support, I also have packages available for you. Individual babies have unique sleep patterns and needs, and what works for one may not work for another. My 1:1 support will help you in choosing a responsive method that sits comfortably with you and best suits your bub and their temperament. These packages are for 5 months to 4 years old. To book, click here
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