Parenting Tips: How to Help Your New Born Baby Sleep

We have all heard the phrase “sleep like a baby”, but the reality is a new born baby has a hard time telling the difference between day and night. So you can expect a slightly disrupted sleep pattern for your first few months (probably longer) after giving birth!

Instead of relying on multiple cups of coffee and energy bars, there are numerous tips and tricks for teaching your baby the difference between day and night, how to stay asleep longer and how to give you as parents a little more relief time! Below we explore how to help your new born baby sleep.

Watching your baby’s feeding and sleeping habits

An important note to remember is that feeding your baby, especially during the first few weeks, is extremely crucial. Your baby should be receiving nursing at least 10 to 12 times per day, and this means feeding them every two to three hours or so, at least in the early days. This is vital to keeping them healthy and growing well. Also, as another extremely important side note, it is best if your baby sleeps on his or her back so as to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If you are interested in other ways of reducing SIDS, check out this guide here.

What are the typical sleep patterns for a new born baby?

New born babies will sleep a great deal, roughly around 16 or 17 hours a day. But this will be in short bursts, alongside the feeding guidelines listed above, and so you can expect your new born baby to wake every two to four hours. This will, of course, lead to a slightly irregular sleep schedule for yourself as well!

Your new born baby will be sleeping a lot in the first few weeks after pregnancy!

Great tips for getting your new born baby to sleep

Now that we’ve got the important bits out of the way, below we list some top tips for getting your new born baby to sleep:

#1 Swaddle your baby

Your new born baby will have spent a long time in the womb, and so it helps to mimic this feeling for them. This can easily be done by swaddling the baby by wrapping him or her up in a small blanket. Think mini burrito! The baby feels safe and warm in this environment and it will also make them much more likely to stay asleep during moro reflex moments – the feeling similar to falling in a dream. Generally, it takes around four or five months for a baby to stop with these moro reflex moments, and so until that time it helps to keep them comforted and feeling secure.

#2 Use the light to your advantage

As with adults, light will affect how your baby reacts to sleep and how active they feel. Light makes us feel more awake, while darkness begins to trigger key sleep hormones, known as melatonin, in us to help us sleep. Your new born baby will likely have day and night confusion for up to around six weeks after birth, and so keeping your baby in a dark room during the day will only prolong this.

During the days, make sure that your baby receives plenty of light and when taking day-time naps make sure that they are in a well-lit room. During the night, keep the room dark, even if your baby wakes. Avoid taking them into a well-lit room or turning on the lights, and instead just focus on easing them back to sleep. As the day begins to turn to night, start to dim the lights in whichever room your new born baby is in, so that you can get them ready for sleep. You could even consider installing light dimmers in rooms for added ease.

Finally, if you find that the early morning sun seems to be waking your baby, think about installing light-cancelling blinds or shades.

#3 Learn your baby’s sleepy signs

Your new born baby will be needing to nod off extremely often in the first few weeks, and it is important to allow him or her to sleep when they need to. If they get over tired, it may become too hard for them to drop off! You can learn your baby’s signs of sleepiness to help with this process. Signs to look out for include:

  • If your baby starts rubbing their eyes
  • If they begin to whine or cry a lot (although this can sometimes mean it is too late!)
  • If you find your baby is yawning or stretching
  • When he or she seems to start losing interest in you or their toys
  • You may see them begin to flick their ears with their hands
  • They may become much quieter or still than usual

Other signs to look out for include whether they bury their face in your chest, start to turn away from people or stare blankly into space (as many of us do when we are tired!).

#4 Keep your baby’s wake times short

As previously mentioned, your baby will be waking up a lot within the first few weeks, but it is important to keep these wake times short and sweet. Look out for the signs of sleepiness as listed above, and begin to soothe them after just one or two hours’ maximum after their previous period of sleeping.

It is best to try and get your baby to sleep before they begin to cry, as this can mean that they are already over tired. During their wake time you should include all the important activities that you may need to complete, such as feeding, diaper changing or bathing.

Always stick to the rule of one to two hours’ maximum regardless of how long their previous nap was.

#5 Increase the level of white noise

White noise refers to noise such as the whirring of a fan or a vacuum cleaning going. Babies love this as it mimics the sounds they remember from the mother’s womb, such as blood flowing. Naturally, you cannot keep a vacuum cleaner running all day, and so it is recommended to buy a white noise machine or white noise CD.

#6 Develop a post-feeding routine

Although your baby will naturally get sleepy and you need to watch out for those signs, you need to do everything you can to get him or her to adjust to the light during the day to sort out the day/night confusion.

A useful tip for this can be by keeping them awake post-feeding by developing a play routine. If you play with them, whether this be by singing, using toys or bathing, and keep them awake for around an extra 30 minutes, this can help them to adjust to the daylight. This is, of course, sticking within the two-hour time limit before they need to nap again.

#7 Practice makes perfect

It is important that you develop a routine from the get-go, quickly teaching your baby the various habits that you want them to adopt. Understand that this is a gradual process, but it is still one that your new born baby can pick up quickly. And don’t worry – you aren’t expected to get it right immediately! Practice makes perfect after all.

There are useful guides available for helping to get your baby sleeping well in just seven days, and these are practices you can adopt into your routine moving forward.

#8 Make sure that you limit your new born baby’s naps

As we mentioned, your baby will need to nap a lot, but it is important that you limit the length of these naps and keep in line with the regular feeding times and playing times as listed above.

Limit your new born baby’s naps to no more than three to four hours; this will also be especially helpful in sorting out their day and night confusion. You can read more on a new born baby’s sleep schedule and patterns here.

#9 Consider sleeping next to your new born baby

Sleeping next to your new born baby will not only help them to sleep as they will feel more comfort, but it will also allow you quick access for diaper changes or feeding! You should not have your baby in bed with you however, and instead it is recommended to use some form of co-sleeper.

You can read about the differences between co-sleeping and bed sharing here, and also understand more on safe bed-sharing techniques here.

Your new born baby will feel comfort by sleeping near you

Looking for other new born baby tips?

As well as helping your new born baby to sleep, you most likely have numerous other questions such as why your baby might be crying or what the perfect pushchair might be for taking your baby out for a stroll. We have an extensive range of guides, reviews, and interesting editorial articles available on the ParentsNeed website to help new parents and new born babies alike in the weeks and months ahead!

Image credits: Alicja and Public Domain Pictures

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