Congratulations on your precious new bundle – life’s greatest blessing!
It is well known that quality sleep is undoubtably a fundamental element in an infant’s healthy development. From their busy brain to their tiny tummy, there are incredible amounts of growth and development that happens when your baby gets good quality sleep. Therefore, it absolutely makes sense to create healthy sleep habits for your little one from the very beginning. After all, our babies only know what we teach them and teaching them healthy sleep habits right from the start will no doubt be a decision you won’t regret.
Below are my top 6 tips for creating sustainable sleep habits from the beginning.
- Create the ideal sleep environment
- A dark room will help your newborn regulate their body clock. The serotonin your little one produces when exposed to light during their awake periods will be converted to melatonin when they enter a dark room. Melatonin assists our bodies to feel physiologically tired.
White noise can be a very effective tool in assisting infants link together sleep cycles. It also blocks out household/environmental noises that may otherwise wake/startle your baby from sleep.
Ensuring your baby is dressed appropriate for the temperature of their room is crucial, both for their safety and their comfort for sleeping.
- Try to implement a feed, play, sleep pattern
- As your baby becomes a little more alert and wakeful during their awake periods, you can start implementing a feed, play, sleep pattern. Keeping your little one as awake and engaged throughout their feed as possible will avoid them ‘snack feeding’, therefore avoiding ‘snack sleeping’. Keeping him/her engaged through out some playtime will also assist in your little one feeling tired and ready for sleep when it is offered.
- Ensure your newborn baby has plenty of opportunity for sleep and keep an eye out for their sleep cues
- Visitors, catch ups, appointments….life is incredibly busy with a newborn. Keep in mind that a newborn can often only tolerate around 30-45mins of awake time between sleep - and this time includes their feed. Ensuring your baby is offered sleep regularly is really important. Allowing him/her to become overstimulated or overtired can be tough, on everyone.
A newborn who is ready for sleep may become a little jerky, make fists, may look away from you or have periods of fussing. An overtired newborn often presents as wired or hyper, may be yawning or crying and commonly, they will fight sleep.
- Create predictability and consistency around sleep
- Our little ones thrive off routine – it allows them to become familiar and secure within their sleep experiences. Newborns don’t actually have the ability early on to tell morning from evening therefore commencing some sort of routine can be helpful for them to establish their circadian rhythm. This isn’t to say that you need to feed by the clock or establish a non-negotiable bedtime. Little things such as exposing your newborn to light during their awake period, attempting to follow a feed, play, sleep pattern then into their dark room and saying a positive bedtime phrase at sleep time can be really helpful.
- Decide which role you wish to play in your baby’s sleep habits
- There are many effective ways in which you could assist your newborn baby to settle – patting, feeding, rocking, a dummy or independent settling. Whichever you decide works for both of you, just be mindful that after the newborn period, the role in which you play at sleep time for your baby often becomes what they associate with sleep. If that association is reinforced time and time again, there is a chance that your baby may wake more frequently looking for that same ‘association’ to come back into play to help them drift back off to sleep. If that works for you both, fantastic, keep going. If it’s not something you see as being sustainable for a long while yet though, perhaps your settling style might be something you could work on.
- Be flexible and stay positive
- Some days just don’t go as planned and that paired with the fact that newborn sleep can be unpredictable at the best of times means that sometimes you just have to be flexible and go with the flow. The more relaxed and positive you can be when it comes to your newborn’s bedtime, the greater the chance of an enjoyable experience for all!
The Gentle Sleep Specialist x