Welcoming a newborn into your family is one of the most joyous, life-changing experiences you’ll ever enjoy. Unfortunately, it also means you can kiss goodbye to a good night’s sleep for the next few months! Newborns rarely sleep more than two to three hours at a time as their tiny bellies aren’t big enough to hold enough milk to keep them sleeping for longer than that.
However, there are several steps you can take to start instilling the healthy sleep habits right from day one.
Tip 1: Beware sleep props
A “sleep prop” is anything your baby needs in order to fall asleep. For example, if your baby always wants to be rocked or breastfed to sleep, or can’t fall asleep without a dummy / soother in his mouth, she has formed a reliance on a prop, and that reliance will become increasingly hard to break as she gets older.
It’s better to encourage your baby to develop self-soothing strategies so she can fall asleep on his own. The best way to do this is to put her in her crib while she’s sleepy but still awake so she can develop the skills necessary to fall asleep independently without a prop.
Tip 2: Create a clear separation between “day” and “night”
The sooner you teach your baby that daytime is for active play and night time is for sleep, the better. This might seem like a challenge when your newborn seems to do nothing but sleep, but there are some things you can be doing right now to create a clear separation between the two periods:
Adopt an “EAT – PLAY – SLEEP” pattern of activity during the day. This will aide in preventing any kind of sleep/feed association as you’ll often be feeding baby when he/she wakes from sleep instead of always before.
Take your baby outside during the day to enjoy as much fresh air as possible. Doctors say this helps set their circadian rhythms and encourages them to sleep better at night.
When your baby wakes at night, stay in his room and keep the lights dim and the conversation to a minimum. She should learn as soon as possible that night time is not a time for play.
Tip 3: Establish a bedtime routine
Establishing newborn sleep patterns right from day one is a great way to help your baby organize days and nights and start to consolidate night time sleep more quickly. I suggest starting a bedtime routine off with a bath. It’s such a significantly different experience that your child will soon learn that a bath means bedtime is near. (Of course, if your baby absolutely hates baths, don’t force her to take one—your bedtime routine should consist of fun and relaxing activities that both you and your little one can enjoy.)
Here are some activities you could incorporate into your bedtime routine:
- Kisses goodnight and into cot or bassinet
By following a consistent routine, you will teach your baby to look forward to bedtime and anticipate what is about to happen next.