Encouraging a newborn to sleep longer
Fiona has been working with me for the benefit of her one-month-old. She has a routine in place. She’s been putting him in the cot awake, a little bit drowsy, but mostly awake, she says. Lots of nights, he is going a four or five-hour stretch, but then every night or two, he’ll only do an hour and a half.
She’s wondering how can she encourage him to sleep four or five hours every night, instead of occasionally. Well, first of all, good for you for getting this started early.
I always say, it is much better to prevent problems from happening than trying to fix problems later. Starting with a newborn, even from day one, is really great because you can gently push a child in the right direction. They can develop their own sleep skills and start sleeping beautifully all on their own, as long as you know what you’re doing, so good for you.
I love that you’ve got a bedtime routine in place and that you’ve been putting him in the cot awake-ish. I would encourage you to work a little bit harder in the next month making sure he’s a little bit more awake when you put him down.
I find that if a baby is drowsy, drowsy means all kinds of things. There are different levels of drowsiness. The goal should always be to get to a place where you can put your baby in the cot wide awake, and he can get himself to sleep from start to finish all on his own.
That’s your goal. As the weeks go on here, put him down a little bit more awake and more so, until you get to a point where you really feel like he wasn’t drowsy at all, and he’s figuring this out. That’s really going to help with the night time length. You’ll find that working on that will make those stretches longer and longer.
Rely on their personal best
Hold your baby to their personal best. If he’s proven to you that he can go four or five hours without a feed, then don’t jump the gun.
Really give your baby a chance. If he wakes up at the hour and a half mark, give it five or 10 minutes and see what happens. You might be surprised that if you wait it out a bit, he’ll get himself back to sleep without a feed at all.
I think for a lot of us, the minute we hear newborns awake, we rush in there to assist, when really if we gave them a little bit of time, they might be able to get themselves back to sleep without it. He’s proven that he can do this. I don’t think there’s any worry on your end that he really needs a feed already. An hour and a half is pretty quick.
The length of sleep will get longer
A little piece of advice about the night, typically what happens is that first stretch gets longer and longer and longer. That’s the consolidation of night time sleep happening. You’ll find four or five stretched to six or seven hours and so on. Then the stretches that follow tend to be fairly short.
That can throw people off a little bit, but it’s really normal and very common. Really that first stretch of sleep is what you should be looking for developing and getting longer and longer.