Bringing a new baby into the world is an exciting and life-changing experience for parents.
However, it can also be a challenging time, particularly when it comes to getting the little one to sleep. Newborns have different sleep patterns and needs compared to older babies and children, and it can take some time for parents to adjust and find what works best for them and their babies.
As a newborn photographer, over the years I have learned tips that can help newborn babies settle and fall asleep… it is not unusual for parents to call me the baby whisperer!
Understand Your Newborn’s Sleep Patterns
The first step in getting your newborn to sleep is to understand their sleep patterns. Newborns have a different sleep cycle compared to older babies and children.
They tend to sleep for shorter periods, and their sleep is more fragmented. They also have different sleep cycles during the day and night, and it can take some time for them to adjust to the 24-hour cycle.
During the day, newborns tend to sleep for shorter periods of time, usually around 20 minutes to an hour. They also tend to be more active during the day, with more frequent wake-ups. At night, however, newborns tend to sleep for longer periods, usually around four to five hours at a time.
It is essential to understand that these sleep patterns are normal and that your baby will eventually adjust to the 24-hour cycle. In the meantime, it is important to establish a consistent bedtime routine and to try to keep the baby awake during the day to encourage them to sleep better at night.
Creating a consistent bedtime routine is essential for helping your newborn to sleep better. A bedtime routine can help to signal to your baby that it is time to sleep, and it can also help to create a sense of security and comfort.
A typical bedtime routine for a newborn might include a bath, a feed, and a lullaby or bedtime story. It is also essential to keep the room dark and quiet and to keep the temperature of the room comfortable.
Note that a consistent bedtime routine is not only beneficial for your baby but also for you as a parent. Having a routine in place can help to reduce stress and anxiety and can make it easier for you to get your baby to sleep.
Establish a Newborn Sleep Schedule
Once you have established a consistent bedtime routine, establish a sleep schedule for your newborn. A sleep schedule can help to regulate your baby’s sleep patterns and can also make it easier for you to plan your day and night.
A typical sleep schedule for a newborn might include a nap during the day, a feed, and then another nap, followed by a feed and the final sleep of the night. Remember that the schedule will change as your baby grows and develops, so it is essential to be flexible and adjust the schedule as needed.
Creating a safe sleep environment is essential for keeping your newborn safe while they sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be placed on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Keep the room dark and quiet, and keep the temperature of the room comfortable. It is also important to use a firm, flat mattress and to avoid using soft bedding or pillow, as these can be a suffocation hazard.
In addition to ensuring that the baby’s sleep surface is safe, keep the baby’s sleep environment free from any potential hazards. This includes keeping the baby’s sleep area free from any loose items, such as toys or stuffed animals, and keeping the room free from any potential sources of smoke or carbon monoxide.
Moreover, keep the baby’s sleep area free from any potential allergens, such as dust or pet dander. If your baby has any known allergies, it may be necessary to take additional steps to ensure that their sleep environment is as safe as possible.
Newborns have different sleep patterns and needs compared to older babies and children, and it can take some time for parents to adjust and find what works best for them and their babies. Therefore, respond to your baby’s needs and be flexible in your approach to sleep.
If your baby is not sleeping well, it may be necessary to adjust your approach. This might include trying different sleep positions, adjusting the sleep schedule, or even seeking advice from a paediatrician or sleep specialist.
However, not all babies are the same, and what works for one baby might not work for another. Therefore, it is essential to be flexible and to be willing to try different approaches to sleep.
Interact with your baby during the daytime
Infants should only be awake for brief intervals and often, this time is spent on diaper changes, feedings, and lots of cuddles. However, by engaging in playful activities with your baby during their wakeful periods, you’ll be helping to strengthen the bond between you and your little one. Additionally, playing can aid in the development of their brain and provide stimulation that can help them to sleep for longer periods.
Examples of ways to play with your newborn include:
- Reading a book to them and displaying the pictures, which can be a great bonding experience while also helping to develop their language skills.
- Softly singing while dressing them, which can be entertaining for both you and your baby.
- Showing them objects with contrasting colours, as a newborn’s eyesight is limited in the first few weeks and they can only see a short distance, but they can see black and white more clearly than other colours and this can be very captivating for them.
- Allowing them to explore you by lying close to their face and this will help to create a strong bond.
More Newborn Sleep tips…
Should you have missed my previous post, go check my Newborn Sleep Tips guide!
It’s normal to feel exhausted while caring for a newborn baby and dealing with sleep deprivation, but it’s important to remember that this is a brief stage in their lives. As the months go by, they will improve their sleep patterns and be able to sleep for longer periods.
It’s crucial, however, during the newborn phase to prioritize your own needs, to make sure you get as much rest as possible.
If possible, work together with your partner to take daytime naps and eat healthy nutritious foods to maintain as much energy as possible.
But most importantly, cherish this newborn phase as much as you can because it goes by quickly.