Struggling getting a newborn baby to sleep?
Any parents who have had a newborn can attest that getting your newborn to sleep feels almost as good as winning a gold medal. The sense of achievement is so great until you realise that you have to do it all over again in three hours.
Whilst some babies sleep through the night from the age of 8 weeks, others may take a little longer to get into a good sleeping rhythm. Of course, all babies are different and there is no ‘right’ way to get a baby quickly off to the land of nod.
However in an effort to help sleep deprived parents, mama mio have put together some of our tried and tested techniques that we’ve successfully used to get our little ones to sleep. We hope that some of these techniques will help you and your baby get some more shut eye!
1. Don’t rock the baby
Bad habit number 1.
On arrival of your newborn you’ll be so excited that you probably won’t want to put your baby down. You’ll want to hold them close, soothe them and protect them from the world. This is definitely a natural feeling for a new parent.
However, whilst cuddles and bonding time are really important, you should try to put your baby down when they are showing signs of being sleepy instead of being tempted to rock them to sleep.
The problem with rocking your baby to sleep is that your baby will get use to this swaying motion and associate this with sleep time. Whilst it might be lovely at the beginning, after a few weeks of getting up three or four times a night to feed your baby, you will wish you could just put your baby back into the crib and get some shut eye yourself.
2. Help your baby learn the difference between day and night
Since your baby won’t be able to tell the difference between night and day when they are born, you will need to help them. Find a routine that lets your baby know it is time for their night time sleep and make sure the room is dark and free from loud noises.
Similarly, during the day try to keep them in well lit spaces so they can start to differentiate the time of day.
3. Create the right sleep environment
Your baby can start to hear sounds from about 20 weeks and the womb isn’t a quiet place. In the womb they will be used to listening to your heart beat, your voice and all the churning noises of your body’s digestive system. This is why babies often like sleeping when there is some background noise, rather than in a perfectly silent room. Try downloading a white noise app or get a white noise machine to have on at night to help replicate the noise they have been use to in the womb.
Although your baby’s eyesight won’t be fully developed at birth, they can detect light and motion from birth. Ensure you take away distractions like stuffed animals or mobiles as these can stimulate the baby rather then help them relax and go to sleep.
Swaddling your baby is also a great way of replicating the womb environment. Not only will it keep your baby snug, but it will also help to make them feel like they are still enclosed in the womb.
The same principles apply when you position your baby in their crib. Try to place your baby diagonally at the bottom of the crib so their feet touch the end of the crib and their head is close to the side of the crib. Placing your baby in the middle of the crib might look comfy to us, but they are used to sleeping in a small place with walls enclosing them in.
4. Re-settling your baby
Resist the temptation to rush in to your baby’s room as soon as they start to cry, especially if it is not time to feed them. When you do go into the room, try not to make eye contact with your baby. Instead, put your hand on their chest and make a ‘shhh’ noise. This re-assures them that you are there whilst ensuring they know youo won’t pick them up every time they come into your room.
Babies can start to self soothe from about six to eight weeks. Once they get to this age, you will be able to wait longer periods until you go in to assist them to go back to sleep. Before you know it, they might even go back to sleep without you even needing to go in and soothe them.
Remember that every baby is different and what works for one baby might not work for another! Sometimes you will need to persist with a certain method to be sure that it works, but other times a certain method might not suit you and your baby. If you are really struggling then seek out a sleep specialist to see if they can help you to find a way to get you and your baby to sleep.