7 Sleep Secrets Every New Parent Needs to Know
1. There is no magic sleep number
Every newborn baby has different needs when it comes to sleep. This means they may sleep anything from eight to eighteen hours a day – although this tends to be broken into smaller naps throughout the day and night. Especially during the first few months, your newborn baby’s sleep routine can vary greatly from day to day. So while there are many possible reasons why your baby is waking up, at this very young age it may simply be that they have yet to develop a routine.
2. Start the sleep routine early
According to NHS advice, it’s possible to begin establishing a sleep routine for your baby once they reach three months old. In fact, starting a bedtime routine with them at such a young age may help to prevent bigger sleeping struggles once they get older. Before the age of three months, however, most babies can’t understand the difference between night and day, making it difficult to establish a routine.
3. Temperature is important
For adults and children, body temperature is a crucial factor for both falling and staying asleep. However, babies’ and children’s bodies are still developing – and that includes their ability to regulate their own body temperature. It’s one of the reasons why even older children can be prone to waking in the night feeling clammy and hot.
Babies are particularly susceptible to getting too hot while they’re asleep and it’s vitally important to make sure that your baby doesn’t overheat. This is because overheating can increase the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The NHS provides detailed advice about reducing the risk of SIDS here.
Of course, helping your baby to maintain the right temperature will also help them to sleep better too.
4. Master your baby’s sleep cues
Every baby is different – and they all have different ways of telling us that they’re ready for a nap. Learning to identify when your baby is tired will help you to put them down at the time when they’re most ready for sleep. As well as obvious signs such as crying, other common cues to look out for include repeatedly rubbing their eyes or stretching, becoming bored with their surroundings, or snuggling up to you.
5. Recruit helpers when baby won’t sleep
Make the most of the fact that friends and family love to spend time with your little one by snatching some snooze time while they visit. Don’t feel that you’re being rude! Good friends will understand – and they’ll relish the opportunity of having a newborn all to themselves for an hour or two.
6. Improving your own sleep is possible
With all the excitement and disruption that comes with having a newborn, your sleep routine is bound to suffer – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, even with a baby in the house. Invest in making your bedroom as sleep-inducing as possible, so that you can maximise precious shut-eye time by drifting off faster. Sleeping with wool bedding is an effective way to help your body reach and maintain the optimal sleeping temperature for longer, helping you to get as much sleep as possible while your little one is fast asleep.
7. It gets better
As babies get older, they tend to sleep less overall, but increase the number of hours they sleep at night. By the time they reach six months old, some babies are ready to give up night feeds, meaning that they can sleep for longer overnight. And so can you.
Have you got any newborn sleep tips or other advice for new parents? Why not share your tips in the comments?