We all know that newborn babies wake frequently, day and night. It’s normal. Many new parents put themselves under pressure to try to get their baby to sleep through the night but you're not doing something wrong if your baby is not sleeping 'well' in the early days.
Having said that, good sleeping habits really can be established early on and there are ways to help your baby become a good sleeper. Here are some tips to try to establish good sleeping habits for newborn babies.
Newborn Baby's Sleeping Patterns
New babies sleep a lot, with most of that sleep in short bursts of up to three hours at a time. Sadly, this means that your sleep is frequently interrupted too. Your baby needs to wake often to feed and thrive and the resulting sleep deprivation can feel as though it will last forever - but we promise, it won't!
By six weeks, babies tend to be awake longer and have longer stretches of sleep too. They still need regular feeds, so nights are disturbed.
Encouraging Good Sleeping Habits
Try these top baby sleep tips for encouraging good habits:
- Recognise your baby's sleep cues. Yawning, rubbing the eyes, pulling the ears, becoming fussy or irritable are all signs that your baby is tired. As soon as you recognise your baby’s sleep cues, try to put her down for a sleep. Don’t leave it too long, as an over-tired baby is not easy to settle.
- Don't stretch your baby's waking periods. From six weeks, babies can stay awake for up to two hours at a time. Don't be tempted to try to keep them awake longer in the hope of more sleep at night.
- Make a clear distinction between day and night. Your baby can learn what makes day distinct from night at an early age and is more likely to sleep longer at night if they recognise the difference. Make nights dark and calm and interact minimally with your baby. In contrast, daytime naps should happen in your usual routine - the telephone ringing, other children playing. There’s no need to tiptoe around during daytime naps, and if you need to get out and about, don’t let sleep routines hold you back – just pop your baby into their pushchair with the SnoozeShade on to create a calm, dark place for a little shut-eye.
- Encourage independent sleeping. Newborn babies usually fall asleep during feeds and it’s natural to lay them down in their crib - but this can become a ‘sleep prop’, meaning that your baby will only fall asleep during a feed. As they get bigger, you should encourage your little one to be able to self-settle, especially so that they can go back to sleep if they wake unexpectedly in the night. Try to plan your day so that when your baby wakes, you feed them, then have some play time, then put them to sleep when they are awake but getting tired.
Sleep training is not recommended in babies younger than six months. Use your instincts and let your baby guide you as much as is possible. Do let us know how you get on!