It is only people who have never had a baby that say “I slept like a baby.” because those with babies know that often babies don’t sleep and when they do it is for short 20 minute naps. Newborn babies rarely sleep through the night and it is often cause for great anxiety and stress for the parents of the child who does not sleep.
It is normal for your new baby to take a while to get into a sleep routine but there are a few things you can do to get your baby sleeping.
- Routine! This does not need to be a strict routine that says baby must sleep every 4 hours for an hour. You can begin by creating a bedtime routine as this is the easiest to control. There is no set rule about what that routine must be, it can be bath, massage, bed or perhaps bath, story and then bed. Whatever you decide that works for you, be consistent so that your baby associates those things with bedtime. You can do the same with day time naps, these are a little harder to control but in the early days it is still possible.
- Put baby down awake. This may sound almost impossible to do but you can rock your baby or feed them but place them into their cot while they are drowsy but not asleep. By doing this babies learn how to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep, this is a valuable lesson for babies to learn.
- Remove all distractions. There are so many items that you can add to a cot, mobiles, toys, bumpers, night lights, remove them. Many of these are not conducive to baby sleeping and most over stimulate a tired baby. Places your mobile over your changing mat instead, move the night light away from the side of the cot, toys can be played with outside the cot. You baby needs to associate their cot with sleeping, not playing.
- Give them a blankie/bear/taglet. When your newborn is falling asleep, place a taglet/blanket/soft toy in their arms. They will learn to associate that item with sleep. Once they are given that item, they will know it is nap time, this includes when you need them to nap away from their cot.
- Watch for the sleep cues. This is a difficult one to master, especially for new moms but if you take the time to watch your baby you will soon pick up on their sleep cues. It could be a change in their cry, rubbing their eyes, refusing a bottle. Whatever they are take note of these cues because it is easier to get a baby to fall asleep when they are tired as opposed to over tired, which is what happens once the cues are missed.
Sleep, or the lack thereof, can cause huge amounts of stress but it doesn’t need to. Changing sleep patterns is not easy and may take a few tough nights but the sooner it is addressed, the sooner everyone can go back to getting a good nights sleep.