baby yawning

A Guide To Putting Your Newborn To Sleep, By A Baby Sleep Consultant

Good news for parents with newborns aged 0 – 12 weeks: we’ve compiled a list of full proof, mommy certified tips for you to enjoy first time parenthood and all its wonder. This is a time for you to revel in the love you’re experiencing, and we want to help you along with the ride. As parents do, we tend to over-worry about every little thing our baby needs. Our advice? Don’t be too concerned with routine and schedules in the beginning. Allow yourself time to adjust to your new family and try to enjoy each step of the way. Your baby won’t settle into a predictable routine until about 6 – 8 weeks or sometimes even older. Lucky for you, Chantal Murphy, our resident baby sleep consultant , is here to give you the low down on everything you need to know.
The routine in the early days is more about (E)ating, (A)ctivity, (S)leep, and (Y)our time, in other words easy! Keep reading below for an beginner’s guide to getting your newborn to sleep.

Putting A Newborn (Aged 0 To 6 Weeks) To Sleep

1) Let go of schedules – your new baby is not a programmable device. You need to tune into their needs.
2) You cannot ‘spoil’ a newborn baby – they need as much attention as you can give them!
3) In the first 6 weeks your baby can only stay awake between 45 – 60 minutes (which includes feeding time).
4) Be sure to feed, burp, change bum, wrap back up, quick cuddle and place down in bassinet awake, before the 60 minute mark. For the first 6 weeks, I advise naps to be down in the living area or in a light room to avoid day/night confusion.

How To Feed A Newborn (Aged 0 To 6 Weeks)

1) Cluster feeding in the early weeks is quite common, My advice is to try and stick to 3 hourly feeds throughout the day and 4 feeds hourly overnight. Ensure your baby is completely full after each feed. As this will eliminate cluster feeding and will insure he/she can sleep for longer periods of time.
2) Discourage your baby from sleeping too long between feeds. You need to offer your baby the correct number of feeds (six to eight for a newborn) in a 24-hour period. Sleeping too long between feeds can mean that your baby will demand catch-up feeds later in the day or during the night.
3) If breastfeeding you may want to massage your breast whilst your baby is feeding to ensure they get a full feed. As some babies tire early and therefore won’t get the full feed.

baby bear
Image: Kids & Me Germany

Your Newborn’s Bedtime Routine

1)  It’s normal and expected for bedtime to be anywhere between 7pm -11pm.
2) Skin-to-skin is vital. This helps to calm and soothe fussiness and ease crying. He/she will be reassured by your warmth, your smell, and the familiar sound of your heartbeat. Skin-to-skin also encourages your baby to latch on for breastfeeding.
3) Settling is completely fine. It’s okay to place your baby on their side while helping them to settle. Once your baby is in a deep asleep, you can position them on their back.
4) How to settle: Swaddle, Place your baby on their side, hold/cup their shoulder with your hand, pat their bottom with your other hand and bend down to shush in their ear.
5) Don’t forget—newborn babies are supposed to be unsettled at times. It comes with the package. Sometimes, nothing you do will settle them and that’s okay!

The Need For A Fourth Trimester

1) Your baby has spent 3 trimesters inside the womb and experts now say that the first 3 months outside the womb could be considered the Fourth trimester. The Fourth trimester is basically letting your baby adjust to the outside world gently, calm and
smoothly.
2) Did you know that healthy sleep habits and baby wearing can really co-exist? You can absolutely still wear you baby and implement healthy sleeping habits! American pediatrician and author of “The Happiest Baby on the Block” Harvey Karp believes
the best way to calm your newborn and get them to sleep is by re-creating the noises, movement, and snug environment of the womb.
3) Babies under 4 months have under-developed circadian rhythms (body clocks), immature nervous systems, and biologically shorter sleep cycles. This can explain why they are prone to cat-napping. They become easily overstimulated, and have
difficulty calming down. Their immature digestive systems also add to discomfort; leading to wind, irritability, crying spells, and difficulty sleeping.
4) Creating a “womb like” environment for your newborn’s meets their biological needs for physical touch, warmth, comfort, and sense of security which helps minimize fussy behavior, persistent crying, and sleeping difficulties. Baby wearing is also a great way to lengthen naps in the newborn stage.

fourth trimester
Image: John Looy

Putting A Newborn (Aged 6 To 12 Weeks) To Sleep

1) Start by priming the environment for sleep. From 6 weeks your baby is more aware of his surroundings and therefore should not have day/night confusion. Ensure the room is dark for all naps.
2) White noise plays a key part in optimizing the environment. White noise is very soothing for a baby & toddler, it is proven to improve sleep and lengthen nap times. It drowns out external noises like, dogs barking, other siblings, house hold noise, etc. The louder the better – similar to the sound of the water running in the shower! I recommend a white noise machine that has the ability to stay on for the duration of the entire sleep/nap. If using a phone/iPad/tablet ensure you have it on flight mode as this will reduce EMF exposure.
3) Awake time now is between 60-90 minutes, which includes feed time.
4) Swaddle for bedtimes–replicate the snug environment of the womb.
5) Your baby will stop pooping through the night by 7-8 weeks.
6) Cat-napping can start to peak around 8 weeks.

How To Feed A Newborn (Aged 6 To 12 Weeks)

1) Feed regularly during the day – every 2-3 hours is average, this will ensure they are not awake all night making up for missed calories.
2) Ensure the focus remains on winding down and not over stimulating. Start preparing your baby for a sleep 5-10 minutes before “nap time”. Continue to put your baby to bed down drowsy but awake, so that self-settling skills can build. It’s normal for babies to take up until 45 minutes to fall asleep during the day.
3) Anywhere between 30 min – 2hr is a great nap. If you have a cat napper on your hands (sleeping for only 20-30 mins or less), You may have to pop them down earlier then the expected awake time or they will become overtired, and even more difficult to get to sleep later in the day.
4) It’s normal and expected for bedtime to be anywhere between 7pm -10pm. However as you get closer to 12 weeks old, Start aiming for an earlier bed time of around 7-8pm by adjusting things back 15 minutes, every few days.

Settling Your Newborn Using The 5 S’s

This is something for dad to master! This method is super important and something they should show you in a hospital. It’s natural to want to calm your baby, it’s not natural to know how. That’s a skill. It’s not a hard skill, but it’s something that requires the right knowledge. Babies have an “off” switch for crying, and it can be triggered by doing the “Five S’s”.
1) Swaddling: Wrapping makes your baby feel magically returned to the womb and it will keep your baby from flailing his/her arms. If not done correctly, the baby may cry even harder. Remember to swaddle snuggly. Loose blankets may be a choking risk. Also, don’t overheat your baby (babies should never be sweaty and flushed).
2) Side/Stomach: Newborns are easier to calm when they’re lying on their side or stomach. This triggers the calming reflex by imitating your baby’s position in the uterus. Lying a baby on his/her back can sometimes trigger a falling reflex and make your baby feel insecure. Keep in mind the side/stomach position is great for calming crying, but babies should only sleep on their backs.
3) Shhhh: “Shhhh”ing your baby imitates the sound he/she heard in your uterus, which was as loud as a vacuum cleaner. Place your mouth two to four inches from your baby’s ear and make the “shhhh” sound. It must be loud enough to match the sound of your baby’s crying, or he/she won’t hear it.
4) Swinging: Rhythmic moving imitates the jiggling your baby felt inside the uterus and activates the calming reflex. Ways to use motion are: baby slings and carriers, dancing, infant swings, rocking, car rides.
5) Sucking: Putting a dummy, finger or breast into a baby’s mouth satisfies hunger and turns on the calming reflex.

baby sleeping
Image: Tara Raye

Some Additional Tips

1)  You’re doing a great job; this parenting gig (whilst rewarding) can be hard work at times. Just remember you’re not alone.
2) Schedule regular YOU time to make yourself feel human, sleep, get a massage, manicure, coffee, go shopping, exercise, have a bath, meditate, whatever it is, make it happen.
3) Follow your gut and trust your instincts, as only YOU truly know what is best for your baby.
4) Throw away the books, stop googling, and avoid being sucked into every other parent’s opinion and experience.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help, family, friends, neighbors, etc, let them help! Cooking, cleaning, washing etc. Anything they can do that can make your day a little bit easier is well worth it.
6) Lastly, consistency is the key. You’re doing a great job and you are the best mum your baby has ever had!
 
While you’re here, you need to read our founder Bianca Cheah’s birth story

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