Guest post by Linda Hamilton – Through the Night
As parents, when we decide to have a baby we don’t often think about how these cute little beings will affect our lives. I am not saying this in a negative way at all… when you decide to have a baby you know that your life will change forever and the joy that comes with it is just so pure and nothing like you will ever experience from anything material.
But in saying this, obviously when change comes upon us it always comes with challenges as well. The general challenges we expect, but sometimes we don’t expect the challenge of sleep will be an issue. To be honest, for my husband and I, this was the absolute last thing we even considered. I am a mum of gorgeous twin boys and believe me when I say I have been there I definitely mean it. I have absolutely been in a pattern of complete ZOMBIE and understand completely so listen up in this article I am writing because sleep is a pure gem and anything you can absorb in the early days will benefit greatly to have the best sleeping baby possible.
Any mothers group you are part of I bet one of the first conversations you have every single time you meet is about SLEEP, and how much their baby slept last night or how much their baby DID NOT sleep. Is this true? It was true for me!
If I can give you any general advice then this would be it:
Don’t compare your child’s sleeping patterns to another. Now this is hard right? As humans comparison is just what we do but it can be deadly to ourselves, our self-esteem and give us serious ‘mum guilt’. As mums it is very common that we blame ourselves for ‘doing everything wrong’. When parents call me and say this exact statement the first thing I say is ‘do not worry, you have done what you know, it has worked for a time and now this can be sorted out’.
‘EVERY SLEEP PROBLEM BIG OR SMALL CAN BE FIXED. BELIEVE ME!’
I love setting sleep foundations for newborn babies so here are my SIX HOT TIPS to set excellent sleep foundations for your newborn:
- Understand your baby’s tired signs – This is key to knowing when your baby is ready for sleep. Now some babies show very clear tired signs and some don’t show any at all until they are overtired. So watch your baby like a hawk to understand when they are actually ready for nap or bedtime. Some examples of tired signs are: rubbing eyes, jerky movements, unsettledness, looking away and giving no eye contact, staring into space.
- Awake Time – Most babies up until the age of 12 weeks can only able to stay awake for 45-60min max until they are overtired. You might be thinking, ‘this lady is crazy, my baby can be awake for 2 hours’. Well if your baby is only catnapping or taking a long time to settle then your baby is probably awake for too long. So try and stick with them being awake for a shorter amount of time. Getting them down when they aren’t overtired helps them settle with ease and have a longer nap.
- Swaddling – As soon as your baby shows their first tired sign, put them in a swaddle or wrap them tight and put them down in their place of sleep. The tight swaddle or wrap helps them to feel secure and stops their moro/startle reflex from waking them up. This startle reflex is normally gone by the age of 14-16 weeks so from then you can begin to transition them to having their arms out.
- Routine – I like to look at a 12 hour day and a 12 hour night to take the pressure off families. What I mean by this is, if your baby wakes at 8am to start the day then aim to have them into their place of sleep for bedtime by 8pm. Babies don’t always start the day at exactly the same time early on so working off a 12 hour day always helps them get into a bit more of a pattern.
- Darkness – Having the room as dark as possible day and night is ideal to promote longer sleeps. You will hear advice like ‘keep the room lighter during the day so they don’t think it is night time’. I heard this all the time. Just ignore it, because if your baby is having more consolidated sleep at night then they won’t be confused due to not needing as much sleep in the day. Right now with the revert back from daylight savings a lot of babies are waking earlier to start the day, not primarily because of their shift in routine, but because it is just naturally lighter in the morning. So annoying I know! So keeping the room dark for those early risers and cat nappers is crucial to promote longer sleeps.
- Bedtime Routine – If we were going to have another baby this is THE FIRST THING I WOULD DO! Having a bedtime routine is the best thing you can do to help your baby understand the transition between night and day. So whatever you do for your bedtime routine then do the same thing every night so your baby understands that sleep comes next. For an example of a bedtime routine head to our website and request our free ‘5 steps to sleep success’. It will help your baby be settled, calm and ready for bedtime.
If you have any questions we would love to hear from you so get in touch with us via any of these links below or book a complimentary sleep consultation here.
Linda Hamilton is Director of Through the Night Sleep Consulting. As a twin mum and a qualified baby, toddler and child sleep consultant she is passionate about helping every family see sleep success through life changing results.