Sleep… you know, that thing we did before we had kids? Parents all over the world struggle with sleepless nights when they first have a baby and, if they’re not careful and don’t nip issues in the bud as soon as possible, could be battling these restless nights for a long, long time to come.
While it’s inevitable for a newborn baby to wake during the night and only sleep in small amounts, as they grow, this will improve. Implementing good routines and teaching them to self-soothe can be hugely beneficial when it comes to them learning how to sleep for longer stretches of time. A newborn baby sleeps for about 16 to 18 hours a day – unfortunately for the parents, it’s not in substantial chunks. It takes a while for them to get used to how things work outside of the womb and for their circadian rhythms to kick in. However, incorporating good routines and sticking by them throughout baby and childhood will mean that eventually, you will be able to enjoy a nice, restful sleep again (although not the same as pre-baby, no doubt).
Here are some tips to help encourage good sleeping habits so that you and your children can enjoy a good night’s sleep in no time.
- Teach them to self-soothe by laying them in their cot whilst they’re still awake. Affix a Baby mobile to their cot, or to the ceiling light, so that they have something to look at as they drift off into dream world. By laying them in their cot awake, they will learn that they don’t need you to settle off to sleep, so you can rest easy too!
- Swaddling can help baby feel safe and secure, therefore more likely to sleep soundly. While it’s certainly not for every baby (some like to have their arms free), it’s worth a shot for peaceful nights.
- Incorporate some white noise, whether it’s the baby mobile working away in the background, the sound of a fan or a low volume static from the radio, white noise can often help to settle a newborn because it emulates the sounds they used to hear in the womb.
- Dim the lights to help them distinguish between bedtime and wake time. There’s more chance of them syncing into a good routine if they don’t have nightlights to confuse them.
- Be aware of SIDS and how you can minimise the risk. Leave anything unnecessary – pillows, teddies, duvets – out of the cot and simply swaddle baby with a cotton blanket. Lay them on their backs, too.
It’s expected to be up at all hours during the first few weeks, but babies should begin to sleep for longer when they’re a couple of months old. While it can be an arduous process, as long as you stick to a routine, eventually, your child will be happy to sleep through the night just like you will be.