When I see my little girl sleeping I just want to kiss her little nose, squeeze her little cheeks and cuddle her into me as close as I can. But that’s not advised! Let sleeping babies sleep. It’s a glorious thing. And you don’t realise how glorious it is unless you have a baby that doesn't sleep well. Getting into a good newborn sleep routine is one of the most important things to do when you bring baby home from the hospital.
It all sounds wonderful in theory but can be quite tough, especially if you have a child with colic and reflux issues, or something else. The below is a guide – a baby sleep checklist of sorts.
- A well fed baby is a happy (and sleepy) baby.
- Establish a routine as quickly as possible, either use the babies own rhythm to identify key times of the day for sleeping or eating or use a guide – Save Our Sleep and Happiest Baby on the Block are two great books. I personally used Save Our Sleep and it was a fantastic resource with routines by age. Rebecca Judd also has a routine on her blog that she used for her babies.
- Make sure your baby is well burped. Most people don’t spend enough time on this.
- If you are having trouble with sleep, try and rule out possible reasons e.g. reflux, colic, not enough burping, routine, not enough food, room/bed temperature. Speak to your maternal health nurse and doctor, read and talk to other mums to see if there is any sage advice they can offer.
- The maternal health nurse network have sleep consultants that can come out to your home and help with getting you back on track. They are at no cost for a one time visit. Or there are independent, private sleep consultants that can help in the home.
- Have an established bed time routine – keep a consistent time for everything; it means baby gets used to a certain way of things happening before bed time. Try: a warm relaxing bath with lavender oil to relax baby; make sure tummy is full and well burped; read a little baby book; if baby needs some extra help snoozing off try a few minutes rubbing or tapping. Whatever you do, consistency is important.
- Room temperature is very important. We have a tendency to overheat because we are worried about baby not being warm enough. If baby is too hot she won’t be able to settle.
- Lavender – try this in the bath, a candle, oil in the humidifier or oil burner before bedtime. It’s very calming.
- Sleep school – I have heard great things about Masada. It does not come cheap but for parents that need some time out and need settling time of their own it is incredible. You need a referral from your GP.
- Try not to disrupt sleep as much as possible, i.e. don’t wake your baby and try to put baby into his own bed so that he wakes in the same place he went to bed. (This is where a routine helps – you can build appointments etc. around when baby is due to sleep and eat, no surprises). Obviously it’s not always possible, i.e. when baby unexpectedly falls asleep in the car, but as with anything in life, all you can do is do your best.
- Daytime sleep is absolutely crucial for night time sleep so do your best in getting a good daytime sleep routine happening.
- Make sure the room environment, particularly the sleep area does not have distractions (or attractions) and is as serene as possible.
Getting your newborn sleep rhythm right doesn't have to be difficult but it does take a little bit of effort, patience and discipline.
Here are some other resources: