With a newborn bouncing bundle of joy, it is normal to rack up a few sleepless nights. If regularly woken by a cry from the other room, new parents can struggle. Leaving some well and truly at the end of their tether.
Young parents are thrown in at the deep-end. Totally unsure of what they are doing. Leading to huge amounts of anxiety. Sleep deprivation only adds to this feeling of helplessness. Fear not! We’ve got a handy guide to get your baby nodding off like clockwork.
These gentle, natural solutions will allow you beleaguered parents to catch some much-sought shut-eye. While your well-rested baby will be significantly more tolerant, patient and engaging.
Babies thrive on order and routine. Order means safety. To a child’s undeveloped brain, this is an essential need. A regular wake-up and bed-time regulates the body clock of a young child. Allowing the circadian rhythm to enforce regular sleep patterns.
On waking, it is advised to expose the baby to bright natural light. Triggering the circadian rhythm to full alertness. Therefore starting the countdown to another full sleep. At the approach of night-time, a set of pre-sleep habits encourage proper slumber.
Pre-sleep habits might include a bath, reading or simply cuddling. As long as it allows the child to wind down, easing into a peaceful reverie. These routines act as psychological cues for the young infant, reinforcing healthy sleep over time.
A swaddle is soft fabric that usually wraps around the newborn, offering a safe and secure cocoon of warmth. This envelops the child, limiting the effect of the innate startle reflex. A startle reflex is typical of newborns.
After so long in the womb, infants can jolt awake suddenly, with a feeling of falling. Usually ceasing after about six months. A swaddle which is tucked snugly, prevents this violent movement from waking your little tyke up.
The lightly weighted fabric of the swaddle also mimics touch. Reassuring the child and encouraging them to return to their charming slumber. Ideally without the intervention of soundly dozing Mom and Dad.
Fledgeling parents are often so relieved to have a minute to sit down, they let their infant nap for far too long. These naps may offer relief in the moment but this time is stolen from night-time sleep.
It is a thorny issue to wake a sleeping baby. However, parents should aim for 2.5 hours of napping. Followed by feeding and time awake. Before another well-earned snooze. Especially in the late afternoon when parents should be gearing up for deeper nightly rest.
As they grow and get older, you will notice they need less nap-time throughout the day. A 2.5 hour limit also builds a schedule. Consistency being key to comforting an irritated child.
We urge to parents to use their judgement. If a child is overtired, allow some extra time for recovery in the sleep schedule.
Eat, wake, sleep, repeat
On waking, a child should feed immediately. Followed by a period of alertness and playtime. Finally, the infant is lulled back to sleep. Repeat these steps as part of an ordered routine. This is known as the eat, wake, sleep cycle.
Eating before sleep trains the brain to associate food with tiredness. Which fast becomes a crutch with young children. As a result, babies cannot return to sleep without a feeding. Meaning that Mum will always have to be around during the night to tend to any unexpected wake-up calls.
This consistent routine allows babies to soothe themselves at night and return to sleep most often. While reducing the risk of overtiredness. As the infant learns when to sleep through practice. This predictability allows parents to plan their day with greater regularity.
Keep your baby close
Newborns yearn for close contact. Skin-to-skin closeness is known to bond mother and child while reducing bawling throughout the day. It is recommended to carry your child, whether in a sling or not.
A baby can sense when parents are not close-at-hand. Understandably so, as an abandoned child would not last long in our wilder evolutionary past. Use rhythm and motion to usher in sweet dreams. Or sleep snuggled up with the child lying on your chest.
This regulates body temperature and creates a sense of ease in an infant. If necessary, share the same room. The early stages of child development can be tough, but bear in mind they do not last forever. Use every tool at your disposal to get through it!
Who ever said it would be child’s play?
Newfangled parents will often hear stories of angelic babies, sleeping soundly throughout the night. Urging them to plead – why me?
Like adults, every little infant is different. Each with its own distinct personality, wants and needs. It takes time to figure out what is best for your family so don’t throw in the towel. Those hefty bags under your eyes won’t be there forever, we promise!
A shorter sleep cycle is expected. Celebrate small successes and take an hour to yourself now and again. Remember it takes a village to raise a child. So, reach out and ask for help. You are a better parent when you are well rested.
In the midst of your sleep deprivation, keep in mind that these are simply guidelines. Trust yourself to know your baby better than any external authority. Do what works best for your family. People who say they sleep like a baby, have usually never met one!