Newborn Sleep Tips: How to help your newborn sleep better

Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Krukerink from Baby Sleep Consultant, discusses the main reasons why a newborn may struggle with sleep and how you can help them sleep better.

First of all, newborns are tricky, even for sleep consultants. I know that it can sometimes be hard to work out what your baby needs and unfortunately, they don’t come with instructions! Below, I’ve added 3 of the main reasons why a newborn may struggle with sleep and how we can help them. I hope it makes life as a parent a little easier for you.

Newborns become overtired easily

Watch their awake times, not just their tired signs as you may catch these a little late and then over-tiredness will make them harder to settle and more likely to only nap for a short time. Your baby may only need 45-60mins of awake time when they are first born, which is barely enough time for a feed, change and back to bed.

Newborns need help with settling to sleep

As newborns, they can’t really self settle so we need to help them with some gentle hands on assistance to create what is called “the forth trimester”. This is when we recreate womblike conditions to help them with settling to sleep in their big new world. At first, you may find that they sleep anywhere and this isn’t a problem for you, but as they get older and become more awake(usually around 6-8 weeks), you might find that you start to have a few more problems.

To settle to sleep and create the forth trimester, you can use:

  • Loud white noise (such as a baby shusher, app or radio tuned to static) – this is super calming for them
  • Darkness – helps with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Sleeping in the lounge or a room that is too light, is one of the most common problems I have with my newborn clients.
  • Sucking – this could be in the form of a feed, clean finger or dummy. Sucking activates a deeper calming reflex in the brain of a young baby
  • Swaddling – a snug arms down swaddle, with movement in the hips, helps to suppress the moro, or startle reflex, which can interfere with settling and also contribute to shorter naps. The wrong swaddle is another common problem with my youngest clients, so practise with a large muslin or buy something like a Miracle Blanket or Mum2Mum swaddle (these are Houdini proof!)
  • Movement – your baby came from a place with a lot of swaying so it’s ok if you need to rock, walk, bounce, or pat them to sleep.

It is recommended that they above methods are used TOGETHER, as like the pieces of a puzzle, it might not work if you only use one or two.

Newborns are born with no sense of night and day

This can make things unpredictable and a routine should only be used as a guide for your day. If you find that things go out the window, don’t panic! Tomorrow could be totally different and one day isn’t a sign that it’s all hitting the fan. Just get through the day and try again tomorrow. At this age, routines are more for our benefit and we can use them to help ensure that your baby is getting enough feeds, the right amount of day sleep so that they aren’t overtired by bedtime, or had too much day sleep and more wakeful at night. If you’re not using a routine, that’s ok too – if it works for you, don’t change a thing!

Samantha Krukerink
Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant
Ph 021 129 0129
follow me on instagram @sleepfairy_sam
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