How to help your newborn sleep. It can feel like a challenge, an uphill struggle. Perhaps you’re worried you’re doing something wrong? That you’re creating ‘bad sleep habits’?
Don’t worry, that’s why I’ve written this post all about helping to ‘shape’ your baby’s sleep with sleep shaping; to optimise their sleep in line with their developmental needs. I believe it’s unrealistic to expect your little one to be guided by a gentle sleep plan before 18-20 weeks. So if you’re expecting, have a newborn or a baby under six months this post is for you mama!
It offers you some simple yet effective steps on how to help your newborn sleep. It’ll help promote positive sleep habits, establish your baby’s body clock and begin a gentle bedtime routine (it’s never too early to start!). Remember to have realistic expectations with night wakings and feeds too!
Aim to expose your baby to 12 hours of broad-spectrum daylight. Get outside for some of this time when you can. This helps develop their natural circadian body clock.
Establish breast or bottle feeding and get any concerns addressed as soon as possible. Be aware both tongue tie and reflux can impact the health of your baby through nutrition and sleep so I advise keeping a check on their weight and general health. See your GP, health visitor or midwife for any worries.
Keep the levels of usual household noise the same. Radio, washing machine on type thing. Encourage your baby to be able to sleep through sounds. No tiptoeing about in silence needed!
Encourage multi-sensory soothing such as rocking, patting, holding, swaying, shushing, white noise, music. These can all be used to help minimise the association of only one way to get to sleep and therefore creating a negative sleep association.
Safe Sleep Space
Ensure your baby has a safe sleep space. This can be a moses basket, cot or crib. Allow them to become familiar with it and settle there as often as possible. Ideally in the same room as parents up to six months. That’s in line with the Lullaby Trust guidelines.
If your baby does sometimes fall asleep on you, don’t worry, enjoy it! However, do settle your baby for some naps awake. Allow your baby space and opportunity to learn to fall asleep.
Give your baby space to gurgle, murmur and be vocal. Always offering your full support too quickly can hinder their natural ability to learn to sleep more independently in the long run. Though always meet their needs!
Try to settle for naps and bedtime at the same times each day. This can help establish their body clock too. Think timings over technique!
Feed to Sleep
Minimise a feed to sleep association with a nappy change. If they fall asleep during a feed, give them a massage or sing a lullaby before settling them to sleep.
Catch sleep cues
Watch out for your baby’s sleep cues. Try to catch them at their first signs of tiredness such as yawning, turning their face away, losing interest in play. Putting an overtired baby to sleep can be more challenging and have a knock-on effect for further periods of sleep.
Babies feel safe and secure in the womb. Swaddling can help them feel comforted. If you choose to swaddle, use a thin material, never cover their head and don’t wrap too tightly.
Use a nest. You can buy one or make one with a rolled up towel. Make a sausage and a ‘u’ shape. Place under their sheet and snuggle them into ‘the nest’ ensuring their head isn’t covered and it comes up to their chest. As soon as they can roll, remove the nest.
Keep a check on your baby’s sleep and wake times with a sleep diary. Print a free MY SLEEP DIARY. It may help you to see how much sleep they’re getting and give you a clearer picture of your baby’s developing routine.
Have a consistent bedtime routine that enables your baby to get used to the same rituals every evening. This can be simply bath, nappy, clothes, cuddle & lullaby. Whatever works for you all, just remember to do the same rituals in the same order every night. The same mini routine can be helpful for naps too.
White noise can be really helpful. If you do choose to use it, I suggest having it on all night. You might find it useful to have it louder for settling then quieter for nighttime.
Lastly, remember that you’re doing an amazing job. The best you can. Be kind to yourself. Reach out for support if you feel you need it. Don’t be afraid. If you want to have a little chat about how things are going for you or you’re considering a consultation, I’m right here for you mama!
Together, let’s get sleep sorted!
P.S. In case you’re a newbie to my blog (in that case a very warm welcome!), I always add in a couple of affiliate links with a great offer to each post that I think might be of interest to you as a parent. If you choose to click a link and make a purchase on that really cool new item (for you or your baby!) then it’s at NO EXTRA COST to you.
I receive a small commission from the retailer and that helps me with the running costs of my website, business and blog. Thanks for all your AMAZING support! xx