A huge congrats to Meghan and Harry on the arrival of their new little baby boy! I am so excited for their journey into Parenthood and I don’t doubt that they will make the most amazing parents. I hope to be joining their little boy gang very soon, all be it second time over!
So what do they need to know about newborn sleep at this stage? I’ve put together some gentle tips on newborn sleep for any new parents out there, who might be dealing with the newborn sleep deprivation phase…
- Firstly, know that your newborn is likely to be super sleepy post birth (more so with a c-section birth and encountering drugs in labour too), as your baby is born with a stash of melatonin – the sleep hormone that makes them sleepy. Usually, this melatonin lasts for around 10 days to 2 weeks, by which point it starts to wear off and baby becomes a lot more alert. Enjoy those first sleepy weeks as much as you can, for little one will soon start to show you who is in charge!
- There are occasions when your newborn won;t sleep quite so well and in those early weeks it is usually just down to hunger. Small babies cluster feed to increase your milk supply, so this behaviour is totally normal. However, if it gets to the point that you just can’t get any rest and you are both shattered (baby rooting for milk, mummy or daddy zapped of energy and in need of sleep), then don’t be scared to use a bottle to top them up and get them down for a couple of hours sleep. Sleep is important in birth recovery for both mother and baby, so don’t feel guilty about using this option to help you all get a bit more rest. Nipple confusion only exists if you start giving your baby more bottles than breast feeds – so use them where necessary, to get everyone a little more snooze time.
- If you are very lucky, your baby might need waking for feeds rather than wake you! When they are tiny, they should only go 3-4 hours at night time before then feeding again. Set your alarm, if needs be, to wake them; they can start doing longer chunks of sleep when they have reached their birth weight again (most babies lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first 7-10 days).
- Enjoy all the cuddles! You cannot spoil your newborn baby by letting them snooze on you and this time flies by, so make the most of the cosy evenings on the sofa as a new little family. As baby starts to become more alert, you will find that their sleep patterns start to change and they become a little trickier to settle. At this stage, it might be worth investing in a good quality white noise toy (I love myhummy.com) and some soft swaddles to help baby get all cosy and sleep well. Cuddles are gorgeous, but if you can start to also put your baby down into its basket or crib for some of its sleeps, you will find that later down the line this transition becomes less difficult.
- If you choose to co-sleep, rather than have baby in their own cot or basket, please follow the Lullaby Trust Safe Sleep Guidelines.
- Avoid your littlest addition getting overtired by making sure that you regularly get them down for naps in the day time, whether that is in the pram, sling, on you or on their own in their little swaddled nest. An overtired tiny baby will cry more, feed less effectively and just generally be more difficult to handle, including waking more at night time (who would have thought!). A newborn should really only be awake a maximum of an hour before falling back to sleep again, increasing to one hour and fifteen minutes by around 6 weeks of age.
Once you are ready to start thinking about setting up a sleep pattern for your baby, then you can slowly go about getting them into a gentle day time routine. I have lots more information on this, including routines and settling techniques for 6 weeks olds and up on my Online Sleep Course. Wishing you all the best with your new addition – the most magical time to enjoy and cherish!