Sleep, sweet sleep. Babies need it, parents desperately want it. As vital as sleep is, it can be the most challenging aspect of caring for a new baby. And to make it even tougher, the more tired you are, the more challenging everything feels. Our babies need to be guided in the process of learning to find their sleep, and as they get older, to settle and re-settle themselves. So, as hard as it can be, it is worth investing time in the journey of ‘parenting our children to sleep’, as Dorothy Waide refers to it. Our best advice, when it comes to infant sleep, is try and relax as much as possible. Babies sense our feelings and calm breeds calm. There is plenty of time ahead for establishing more stringent routines, but in the early days, your baby has a routine of their own - they feed, they need a nappy change, they sleep. Sometimes that sleep will be in our arms, sometimes it will be in baby’s bed.
Read more on baby sleep, settling and re-settling, including many detailed articles by Dorothy here.
Five tips for newborn sleep:
1. Brand new babies will sleep anywhere, but as a general rule, a dark room is a great place for baby to sleep. Babies need darkness to produce melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycles. Blackout curtains are a sound investment for any nursery.
2. Try not to let your baby get overtired or over-stimulated - a baby under the age of six weeks will ideally be up for no longer than 45 minutes to an hour at a time.
3. Babies take their cue from you, so take a deep breath and try to relax when settling your baby.
4. Don’t underestimate the power of a song. Singing a lullaby calms both parent and child.
5. If your baby wakes and needs re-settling, do it with as little fuss as possible, avoiding talking and eye contact.