Sleep is the hot topic of many parents' discussions, so here are my top tips on supporting your new baby's sleep.
1. Help your baby to learn the difference between night and day
Your baby was born nocturnal and needs your support to help them learn night and day. You can do this by:
Saying a cheery 'Good morning' and drawing the curtains as soon as you go to get them up in the morning.
Allowing plenty of fresh air and natural light into your home.
Keeping lights up and the curtains open during the day.
Taking them out for fresh air and sunlight every day, where possible.
Making the days social and engaging; play, sing, talk and interact with your baby.
Try to keep daytime feeds interactive with lots of interaction, singing and chatting.
During the night:
Keeping the lights and noise down after bedtime.
Avoiding over-stimulating your baby at night - yes, even when they are looking super-cute!
Keeping your voice hushed tones and low.
2. Try not to worry about making bad habits or rods for one's own back
It is understandable that you want your baby to sleep, and worry about setting up bad habits or making a rod for your own back; but right now, your baby is in their fourth trimester and needs you to feel safe and secure. You can most certainly not spoil a baby, either!
3. Keep their room on the cooler side
Your new baby's internal thermostat has not yet kicked in, and they naturally prefer and sleep better with a cooler temperature, between 16ºC and 20ºC. 18ºC is the ideal sleeping temperature for your newborn, according to The Lullaby Trust (www.lullabytrust.org.uk).
4. Take regular naps
Your new baby will need regular naps throughout the day so they don’t become overtired. Once overtired, they produce cortisol which can affect the quality of their sleep. At this stage, your baby may need to take a nap after being awake for 45 minutes to an hour.
5. Swaddle your baby
Swaddling your new baby helps promote their sleep by:
Keeping them warm
Making them feel all safe and secure
Helping to prevent the Moro reflex that can startle them suddenly, causing them to wake
Helping to calm them if they getting overstimulated
6, Play white noise
Playing white noise whilst your baby falls asleep and whilst they are sleeping can help settle them and prevent wake-ups by tuning out sudden noises.
7. Massage your baby before bed
The sleep hormone melatonin isn't fully produced by infants until at least 9 to 12 weeks, when their pineal gland matures. Massaging them before bed can help them release melatonin, which can aid a good night’s sleep.