Today we hear from sleep consultant Kerry Secker on her Baby Sleep Tips.
“Parenthood is absolutely exciting, exhilarating and exhausting especially in those very early days. Sleep is the hot topic for most new parents and, whilst I know you want me to share my magic sleep secret with you, sadly there isn’t one! I’m all about keeping the sleeping real and some sleep deprivation in the early days is perfectly natural and to be expected.
The good news is that as your baby’s circadian rhythm (AKA their sleep system) develops, so does their sleep. If it doesn’t settle, I promise you aren’t doing anything wrong and your baby isn’t missing the sleep setting: There’s always sleep science behind a sleep struggle and a caring way forward that doesn’t involve doing anything that instinctively feels wrong for you.
Sleep in the First Months
Nocturnal is natural. Your brand new baby is born nocturnal because in your womb the movement during your daily activities soothed them to sleep then at night when it was calm and quiet they would take nourishment from you. This is why your brand new baby loves to be rocked!
Sleep behaviour is also about safety and it’s a much safer time to feed our young because there’s less predators around!
Your baby’s sleep at this stage is very basic; they’ve one type of deep sleep and aren’t cycling between light and deep sleep just yet. Sleep cycles don’t develop until they’re around 4 months old – you can read more about the sleep cycle stage here: http://www.kerrycaresparenting.com/single-post/2016/10/10/The-Four-Month-Regression
Your baby will wake if they have a need; hunger, comfort, reassurance, nappy or wind, then once this need is met they’ll usually go back to sleep. Your baby’s cries are communication NOT manipulation. Meeting your baby’s emotional needs is not spoiling them, creating bad habits or making a rod for your own back.
The sleep hormone melatonin is controlled by the circadian rhythm or sleep system, and your baby’s sleep system isn’t fully established until they’re 6 months old. Short, frequent naps and inconsistent nights are natural until their sleep system has fully kicked in.
Now here’s what you’re here for – my top tips to support brand new baby sleep!
Helping Them Learn Day and Night
By the time your little one is 2-3 months they usually have sussed day and night themselves but to help them along to learn the difference between day and night, you can:
- Say a cheery “Good morning” and open the curtains first thing
- Get plenty of fresh air and natural light into your home
- Keep the lights up and curtains open during the day
- Take them out for fresh air and sunlight every day
- Keep the days sociable and engaging; play, sing, talk and interact with your baby
- Try to keep daytime feeds interactive with singing and chat
- Keep the lights and noise down after bedtime.
- Avoid over stimulating your baby at night; hard when they’re looking super cute!
- Keep your voice hushed tones and low at night.
- Swaddle to sleep – Swaddling your new baby helps settle their sleep by: Keeping them warm, making them feel secure, preventing the Moro (startle) reflex that can startle them suddenly causing them to wake and helping them to calm down if they’re getting over stimulated
- I highly recommend using a swaddle or a baby sleeping bag
It’s so frussetrating when your baby’s eyes ping open and they cry the moment you transfer them to a Moses basket, however this is perfectly natural. Your baby sleeps better on you because your proximity, warmth and heartbeat soothe them. There are no bad habits at any age but especially in the first 3 months so don’t worry about naps in laps! A sling can be a life saver here because it keeps your baby close but you keep your hands free!
Playing white noise mimics the sound of your womb which your baby will love! Playing white noise whilst they’re settling and sleeping can help keep them settled and prevent wake ups by tuning out any sudden noises.
Preparation for separation
Going to sleep is period of separation from you and having a big cuddle right before bedtime releases oxytocin that can help settle their sleep and help the separation go smoothly.
One last thing…
It’s impossible to get this parenting gig wrong as there’s no right way to do it! Enjoy your new baby, try not to worry about bad habits and go with what feels right for you.”
Kerry Secker is a paediatric sleep consultant and the founder of Kerry Cares Parenting; home of the Care It Out sleep approach. She’s on a mission to share realistic sleep expectations and support your little one to sleep their best without sleep training or leaving them to cry.
To find out more about her caring sleep support and services please visit www.kerrycaresparenting.com