Seven Secrets To Helping Your New Baby Sleep Well
Having a new baby is one of the most life changing experiences of any mothers life. Nothing prepares you for the emotions, the depth of love and of course the sleep deprivation and relentless exhaustion from your baby not sleeping. From one mother to another, I know exactly how you’re feeling, I know your pain from being woken from a deep sleep night after night and I know your fears of wanting to help your baby sleep through the night but desperately not wanting to hurt them or make them feel less loved than you know they deserve. So here are my nurture-based secrets to helping your newborn baby sleep better…without all the guilt and self-doubt.
1. Bond and Connect – For the first few weeks of your newborns life it’s important to take the time to bond, connect and get to know each other. Create a beautiful and comfortable environment in your home to hibernate together. Focus on feeding, connecting and following your baby’s lead. It can take some time to figure out what your baby needs and it can be difficult to interpret each cry but try to stay calm and remember it’s your baby’s job to cry when she needs to get your attention, over time you will learn her language and be meeting her needs like a pro.
2. Finding a Gentle Rhythm – When you feel like you’re both ready to find some rhythm in your day, start by helping your little one learn the difference between day and night by developing a gentle and light three hourly routine with milk, some activity and a nap, be sure to let some light into the room during nap time so baby starts to feel the difference between night-time sleeps and day-time naps. Let your baby guide you and make sure she feeds as needed during the day and night. In the afternoon and early evening most new babies will cluster feed to help boost your milk supply (if you’re breastfeeding) and to get enough calories for a longer sleep at night, just go with the ahem… flow! If you’re feeling confused about when to put your child down for naps and when to feed her, you can find age appropriate sleep and feed times in my eBooks here.
3. Sign Language – Start to learn your baby’s sleepy cues and tired signs. Babies easily become overtired and can be very difficult to settle when they pass their ‘sleep window’. By learning your baby’s unique tired signs you can begin preparing your little one for sleep before she reaches a state of overtiredness. If you’re having trouble identifying these subtle tired signs, you’re definitely not alone, I give step-by-step instructions in my eBook, Sleep Like An Angel –Secrets Of The Mindful Mama And The Blissful Baby
4. The Wrap – Wrapping and swaddling your baby for each sleep will help her feel safe and comforted and will reduce the infant startle reflex, which wakes most babies up before they’ve had adequate sleep. Your baby has spent the last nine months as snug as a bug in your womb, so swaddling will help your baby feel more secure when she sleeps. Be sure to keep your baby’s swaddle loose around the hips for freedom of movement and to avoid any hip problems later on.
5. To Rock or Not – As lovely as it feels to rock your small babe in your arms as she falls asleep, humans are creatures of habit and babies learn to quickly rely on our chosen settling methods, needing them every time they wake up. This is ok until you realise your baby wakes up several times a night and needs you to help rock or nurse her to sleep in that same way each time. It will also be particularly difficult trying to settle your sweet darling when she’s a bigger, more playful toddler. Start putting your baby into bed sleepy but awake for her sleeps so she can get used to drifting off to sleep without being nursed or rocked. This doesn’t mean you can’t rock your baby, it just means you don’t rely on that as your main method for settling her to sleep.
6. The Love Hormone – Have plenty of skin-to-skin contact and stay close to your baby as much as possible in those first few months. There are many documented benefits of spending regular time having skin-to-skin contact. One of the biggest benefits is that the hormone Oxytocin is released, which is also known as the Love Hormone and it helps you produce adequate amounts of breast milk and bond more easily with your baby. All these things will help your little one feel secure and sleep more easily.
7. Be respectful – I know you already know this but babies are whole human beings (not just the cutest creatures ever) and I believe they understand most of what we say and deserve the respect of being told what’s coming next. Communicate and talk with your baby regularly. Tell your baby what you are about to do before you do it. The first time Sophia slept through the night, I held her and told her, “I’m going to help you sleep tonight. I will give you a big cuddle and then place you in bed and then you can have a lovely big sleep. You will wake during the night but it will still be dark, this means it will still be sleep time, just try to close your eyes again and rest. You don’t need to call out to me but if you do, I will be right here beside you and I will help you”. I lay her down in her co-sleeper (this works for co-sleeping and cot sleeping babies) and gently held my palm over her chest. I felt her body relax as I lifted my hand and left the room and she slept and she slept and she slept!
Sleep Well Mama
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