- Having a newborn is a high level challenge for every parent.
- They need food every 2-3 hours and they sleep a roughly 14-17 hours over a 24-hour period.
- We've written down 9 tips from all our expert parents at Loop. They give tips like creating a good routine, getting the temperature just right, using white noise or wearing our earplugs.
- All babies are different. Your journey of parenting is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Go easy on yourself, you will get there.
You’ve been driving round the block for an hour.
Yeah, you’re tired. But you know what? Your baby is for once sleeping soundly in their car seat.
And you have peace (albeit a slightly strung-out, caffeine-fuelled kind).
It’s a fact: raising tiny humans is hard.
Bringing a baby into the world is an epic adventure, but it’s also exhausting. Especially when your baby won’t sleep.
You’ve bounced them, rocked them, pushed them in the stroller. You’ve even tried some of more “end-of-tether tricks,” but alas, they’re not working.
The thing is, your newborn is adjusting to their new world. Physical touch, light, sound, learning to feed…even their eyesight isn’t fully developed yet.
As for you? It's brand new, too. You’re getting used to their cues. Are they too hot? No, they’re definitely too cold. That eye blink means they’re hungry, right?
Of course, sleep deprivation is a rite of passage for all new parents, but when extreme exhaustion kicks in, or you’re starting to struggle with sensory overload, your general wellbeing is at risk.
That’s why we’ve put together this article, full of top tips on how to get a newborn to sleep.
But before we delve into those, let’s take a look at how much sleep your baby actually needs.
How much should a newborn sleep?
The answer is, it varies. Every baby is different and comes with a unique sleep pattern. But the general rule is that newborns should roughly get between 14-17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour period.
Babies have small stomachs, so they will most likely wake every 2-3 hours to feed, which is why the newborn stage is so tough. There’s a chance your baby may start to sleep through the night by around 2-3 months, but of course, that’s not always the case.
Now onto our guide and our first tip: the difference between day and night
TIP #1 GET THEM USED TO DAY AND NIGHT
Nighttime is half the battle. You’re trying to work out how to get your newborn to sleep at night…and day.
During the early newborn months, the days and nights roll into one.
All sense of time disappears, mainly due to nighttime feeds and daytime naps. Newborns have no clue about the distinction between day and night, so introducing them to the concept as early as possible will help their body clocks to acclimate.
You can start by creating a stark contrast between day and night in your home.
During the day keep noise at a normal level. Feel free to get on with your hoovering or turn on the TV. Make sure that nap rooms have some form of light.
Then when it comes to nighttime, you can soften the environment, turning down lights and volume. Draw the curtains, turn down the lights and keep noise to a minimum.
Over time your newborn will adjust and so will their sleeping (yay!).
TIP #2 GET YOUR TIMING RIGHT
Watch out for those tired cues, such as grizzly crying, jerky movements, yawning or fussing.
When babies are calm in their crib, a powerful sleep hormone called melatonin is released into their system, priming them for sleep. But if you miss the cues and wait too long, your brain starts to release energizing hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. And this will lead to overtiredness.
Not only does this make it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep, but it can also lead to dreaded early wake-ups.
Remember: it takes practice – you won’t get there overnight. And of course, there will be times when you have no idea what your baby wants, which is totally normal.
TIP #3 GET A BEDTIME ROUTINE IN PLACE
It’s never too early to introduce your newborn to a bedtime routine.
Start by keeping things quiet and calm, so as not to cause overstimulation when bedtime comes around.
Then find a routine that works for you – whatever you choose, the most important thing is consistency. You could try giving them a bath, singing, cuddling, reading a story or playing some gentle lullabies.
Your baby will begin to get used to the routine and know what to expect.
TIP #4 CONSIDER SLEEP TRAINING
Sleep training is all about how to get your baby to sleep without being held. And then teaching them to fall back to sleep by themselves when they (undoubtedly) wake at night.
There are many different methods of sleep training, but the basics involve:
- Putting your baby in their crib drowsy, but awake.
This will get your baby used to the process of falling asleep. Remember to place your baby on their back, and clear the crib of any other items such as blankets and toys.
Once you’ve made sure that they’ve got a full belly, and their basic needs are met, it’s time for you to leave the room.
- Checking on them at regular intervals
Give your baby some time to settle, without rushing to the rescue straight away. They might need a little time to get comfy. Then if they’re fussing, check in on them, without picking them up to soothe them. Simply offer some comforting words, letting them know you’re there and then leave the room again.
Gradually, you can start to increase the amount of time that you leave them to self-soothe, until they’re falling asleep (and staying there) by themselves.
TIP #5 GET THE ROOM TEMPERATURE RIGHT
To give your baby the best chance at sleep, they need the ideal sleeping environment.
Here are our tips:
- Keep the room at the optimal temperature
According to NetDoctor, the ideal room temperature for your baby is between 68°and 72°F (20° to 22.2°C). If your baby is too hot or too cold, they may find it difficult to sleep. If it helps, you can put a small thermometer in their room to make things easier.
- Dress them in the right clothing
When dressing your little one, remember that simple is safest.
If the room is at ideal temperature, your baby should be wearing a sleep suit and a lightweight blanket or baby sleeping bag.
But of course, at times the weather conditions will make the room colder or more hot and stuffy, making it harder to know when you’re doing the right thing.
Check out NetDoctor’s guide on what to dress your baby in for sleep for every weather.
TIP #6 WHITE NOISE
You know the drill.
Your phone rings, baby wakes up. You involuntarily sneeze, they startle. The dog barks at the cat, eyes wide open.
White noise can work miracles with sending your baby to sleep. In fact, a 40-baby study found that white noise helped 80% of the babies fall asleep in just five minutes. White noise mimics the reassuring sound of their mother’s womb, so it’s a super powerful cue for falling asleep, and eventually sleeping for longer periods.
Gentle baby lullabies are also a great option. Check out this playlist from YouTube. Not only are they designed to send your baby drifting off to sleep, but they’ll also block out any unwanted noise that could wake your baby.
TIP #7 YOU NEED SLEEP, TOO
Do you jump to attention every time the monitor crackles?
Babies make all sorts of noises in their sleep, but that doesn’t mean you’re needed every single time.
Lack of sleep can lead to sensory overload and feelings of overwhelm, so it’s important to fit in some guilt-free sleep wherever you can (which means not waking to every tiny sniffle or sigh).
If you’re finding that noise is stopping you sleeping, noise-reducing earplugs are the ideal way to turn down the volume of parenting. Our earplugs from the Loop Quiet range, will reduce noise by up to 27 decibels. And don’t worry, you’ll still be able to hear all the important things, just less loudly.
You’ll wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to take on what’s next.
TIP #8 TRY SWADDLING
You know that feeling you get when you’re falling asleep and you suddenly feel like you’re falling? Well, it has a name: The Moro Reflex. And babies are born with it. It tends to happen mostly during sleep time, causing them to flail their little arms and legs and startle awake.
Swaddling can help babies to keep their limbs tucked in close to their bodies, to reduce the falling feeling and help them feel safer. Not only that, but it keeps them snug, secure and close to their caregiver.
GO EASY ON YOURSELF
Don’t listen to others!
“My baby was sleeping through the night at two months”.
“Can’t believe they’re still not sleeping!
“They really shouldn’t be napping that long”
These comments aren’t constructive, they’re just stressful.
The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. All babies are different, it’s just a case of finding out what works for you.
So go into it knowing there will be trial and error. It’s easy to feel like sleep will never get better, but these stages can change overnight. And then you’re onto the next stage of the wonderful journey of parenting.
And remember, your baby’s sleep patterns are not a measure of your parenting skills. And you will get there, the lack of sleep doesn’t go on forever. It takes time, patience and consistency.
You’ve got this.
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