This is a collaborative post
Some babies will naturally sleep a lot more than others do. Whether your baby seems to sleep for long periods or in short bursts, don’t worry. Both are completely normal. Babies’ sleep varies a lot. Your baby might sleep through the night almost immediately, or it might some time for this to start to happen on a regular basis. It’s unlikely that your baby’s sleep pattern will be exactly the same as other babies that you know. While you can’t predict their sleep pattern, you can help them to get enough sleep and make sure they get good quality sleep to help them rest and grow, and allow you to get some rest too.
Image – free for commercial use
How Can I Get My Baby Used To Night And Day?
It’s wise to start working on helping your baby to understand that night is different from the day as soon as possible, even when your baby needs to sleep during the day. In the daytime, keep the curtains open in the house to let in natural light. Do active things with your baby, like playing games together, and don’t worry about keeping the house quiet, even if the baby is sleeping. Babies are able to sleep through all kinds of disturbances, and keeping the house at the normal noise level will help them to understand the difference between daytime and nighttime.
At night, keep the lights down at a low level. Try to keep your voice and other noises around the house quiet. Don’t play with your baby or disturb them too much if you can possibly help it. Try to avoid changing your baby unless you need to. If you do need to feed or change the baby, put them back down to sleep as soon as you have finished. Your baby should soon learn that night is for sleep, not for play or anything else.
Where Should My Baby Sleep?
For the first six months, your baby should sleep in the same room as you during the day and night, whether in a cot or a Moses basket (get a good one on your wishlist now). In their first weeks, your baby might only want to fall asleep in your arms or with you by their cot. This can be tough, as it limits your ability to use nap time for other things or to get enough sleep yourself. This is why co-sleeping is popular, but there are risks in doing this. Make sure you practice safe sleeping, whatever you decide is right for you.
Start by getting your baby used to going to sleep without any comfort from you or your constant presence, by putting them down before they fall asleep, or after you have finished a feed. This might be easier for you to do once your baby begins to be alert more frequently or stays alert for longer periods of time.
What To Expect From Newborn Sleep
Newborn babies will usually sleep on and off throughout the day and night, although some do sleep through the night from an early age. Try to establish a clear bedtime routine, but remember that you can make adjustments to the routine to suit you and your needs at any time that you need to. The routine is to help you, not to make your life harder.
For example, to get a longer sleep for you before your baby wakes up again and needs attention, you could try waking your baby for a feed just before you go to bed, so they will go back to sleep and sleep a little longer while you sleep.
Establishing A Bedtime Routine
When your baby is about three months old, you can start establishing a proper bedtime routine. A soothing bedtime routine can be good for all of you, and help to prevent sleeping troubles later on. A bedtime routine can also be a good way to spend time together, as well as helping your baby to become sleep and ready for bed.
Try a routine that consists of:
- A bath (find tips for bathing a newborn here)
- Brushing their teeth (if they have any)
- Changing them into clean nightclothes and a fresh nappy
- Putting them into their bed
- Reading a bedtime story to them
- Dimming the lights in the room
- Giving a goodnight cuddle or kiss
- Singing a lullaby or using a mobile that you only turn on when you put the baby to bed
As your baby gets a bit older, it can help a lot to stick to a similar routine at bedtime. Too much stimulation or excitement to close to sleep time before you put them to bed can make babies and young children wake up again instead of falling into a restful sleep. Spend some time on some calmer activities before bedtime instead of more active ones, like reading a book together, to help them feel ready for sleep. As your baby gets a little older, stick to the routine of clean pajamas, a relaxing bath with soothing scents, a bed-time story, a cuddle, and then being put into bed. Your baby will soon learn that this means it is time for sleep. If you can get your baby to sleep easier, you can both get more rest, and be ready for the busy task of growing and learning and helping your baby to do those things.
Sleep can be a challenge for any new parent, but try not to worry about it too much. There will be nights where you might feel your baby will never go to sleep, but every parent feels like this sometimes. Try to remember that sleep difficulties are normal, and you will get through them. A routine and these tips can help you when sleep is difficult, for either of you. Remember that your baby will sleep eventually, and try to use their sleep time to get some rest for yourself, even if you feel like you have other things to catch up with.