Getting a newborn into a sleep routine
The third blog in our ‘Advice from the expert’ series is tips and tricks for getting your newborn into a sleeping routine. Establishing a good sleeping routine with your little one can be one of the hardest things to master, so we had another chat with Maternity Nurse and Sleep Expert, Rachel Waddilove, to find out her advice when it comes to sleeping.
- Do ensure baby has a full tummy – a good feed before bedtime is essential for aiding a good nights sleep. If you are breastfeeding, in the early days you may find that you have to feed on and off until your milk has fully come in. Giving your baby a good feed should allow them to go a little longer until their next one, and therefore sleep for a few more hours than normal.
- Do get into a good routine after every feed – when your little one is very young, you will find that they tend to only wake for food and that this may only be for an hour or so at a time. Once baby is fed well, check and change their nappy, wind them and then swaddle them (if you are doing this), before you then put them down to sleep. Having a good routine after each feed will help your newborn to understand when it is time for bedtime.
- Try to swaddle – you may find that swaddling your newborn will encourage them to sleep much better as they feel more secure when wrapped up well. Babies can feel comfortable being swaddled until they are around four months old however, some may start to resist from a much earlier age. If your baby is happy being swaddled then do continue to do so however, if it is causing them more upset then there is no need to.
- Do allow your baby to have a little ‘shout’ – when you pop your little one down to sleep, do not be afraid to let them have a shout. This is great for helping babies to settle themselves, without you having to always pick them up and rock them back to sleep. If baby really isn’t settling well then do pick them up, check for wind, top them up with a little more food, and then pop them back down again.
- Don’t feed or rock baby to sleep – it can be very tempting and comforting for both you and baby to allow them to go to sleep while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. However, try not to do this too frequently as it can make it harder for them to settle themselves when they wake. If baby falls asleep whilst feeding, then gently wake them up before putting them into their cot for the night. However, if baby is poorly or out of sorts then this is ok – just try not to make a habit of it!
- Do allow more wakeful time from around 1 month – as mentioned above, for the first month or so your baby may spend most of it’s time asleep, only to wake for feed times. However, from around 1 month old your little one should feel more comfortable to have a kick on a play mat or a bit of time in a baby gym. Allowing them to do this can help them to sleep better when nap time comes around.
- Do work out a good routine for you – many parents will find that if their little one is very settled and feeds well during the day, that they can become a little grumpy in the evenings. This is very normal and tends to just be a bit of wakeful time. As a result of this, it is important to figure out a good routine to combat this to ensure that they go down well and sleep well throughout the night.
For more details on these tips, be sure to check out Rachel’s website www.rachelsbabies.com, her Baby Book 'How to Enjoy Year One' and the newly released ‘Baby Journal'.