Newborn babies are born without any sleep skills and are unable to identify the difference between day and night. Because of this, many parents struggle to align a newborn's sleep cycle with the rest of the family. Newborn babies are adjusting to the world and their new surroundings, it will take time for them to develop any kind of sleep pattern. Here at Babogue, we understand how important sleep is for the whole family, which is why we offer a range of services to help your baby sleep the best they possibly can. Our newborn sleep guide will help you to understand your newborn's sleep patterns, the common issues parents are faced with and how to work to resolve these issues so that you and your baby are as happy and healthy as can be!
When Should a Newborn Sleep?
Newborn babies sleep during both the day and night, and will be asleep more than they are awake during the first few months of their life. Newborns need around 14 to 17 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Newborns nap around 3 to 5 times per day; these should range from 30 minutes up to 3 hours. During the night, a newborn should have about 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Newborns have such small tummies that they need to be fed regularly during the day and will seek feeds often during the night.
What are the Common Issues that Impact a Newborn's Sleep?
Because babies are born without established sleep cycles and do not have the ability to fall asleep themselves, parents can be faced with a few different issues when it comes to the family getting enough sleep through the night. Here are the most common issues that impact a newborn's sleep:
Babies are Born Without a Circadian Rhythm
Your newborn baby will sleep during the day and at night, but will be unable to tell the difference between the two. This is because a baby doesn't develop a circadian rhythm until they are around 3 to 4 months old. The circadian rhythm governs our wake-sleep cycles. Through the release of hormones, our bodies know when sleep is due and when it is time to wake in the morning. This can cause issues when it comes to putting your baby to sleep at night because they may not be tired or may sleep in small bursts and wake up crying again. Luckily, there are a few ways to help your baby with a bedtime routine and an encouraging sleep environment.
Newborns Get Hungry Quickly
One of the main reasons that newborns wake up so frequently is because they have tiny tummies and need feeding regularly to help aid their development. Your baby may wake up multiple times during the night for a feed. This often means your child will wake up grizzly and cry, but they should settle down once they have had their feed, whether they have had bottle or breast milk. Room sharing at this age is highly recommended, for their safety & so that you can easily reach your baby to feed during the night, when the time comes.
At this age especially, children are at risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), so parents need to ensure their children are sleeping in the safest position and are at the right temperature. Both newborns and older babies should sleep on their back at all times, with only a baby sleeping bag or swaddle to keep them comfy. Newborns should room share with parents but not share a sleep pace. Making sure that your baby is sleeping in their own crib, cot or moses basket is important. There should never be any loose items in the crib, as they can suffocate newborns. The temperature of the room can also increase the risk involved with SIDS, so keep checking your newborn's temperature during the night.
Newborns Struggle to Self Settle
Newborns struggle to self settle, which means they may not only find it difficult to sleep in the evening, but will have a hard time getting back to sleep once they have woken during the night. You can help your baby to fall asleep at night by rocking and cuddling them until they are dozing off, and then place them in their crib, to help them get used to being alone when they eventually fall asleep. Try not to let your baby sleep in your arms, as they will get used to the feeling of being next to you and may take longer to self settle when you are not around.
Lighter Periods of Sleep
Another reason that a baby's sleep cycle is so problematic during the night is because they spend a lot of their sleep duration in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage. This is a light sleep so your child is likely to wake up much more until they begin to form deeper sleep cycles. Just because infants wake at night doesn't mean they are looking for feeds; they may just have risen from REM sleep, so wait and see how they act - if they begin crying then they most likely have needs to be met such as hunger or some love from mum and dad. Many times, newborns will wake from REM for a short period of time and then go back to sleep.
How Can I Help My Newborn to Sleep?
Although a newborns sleep patterns cause parents to get much less sleep, there are things that can help baby sleep and get them into a good routine for when they begin to develop the skills to differentiate day from night. To help a new baby fall asleep, parents can:
- Cuddle and rock baby until they become sleepy, then place them in their crib
- Turn all lights low and keep voices quiet during the evenings
- Play white noise such as a fan, soft music or a white noise app continuously through sleep phases
- Swaddling from birth can help infants feel like they are in the womb
- Tie in naps and feeding around each other, so that feeds can take place when the baby wakes naturally. This is also known as the feed, play, sleep cycle.
Remember that every baby is different, so it is important to be as patient and calm as possible. Ask for help when you need it, as your sleep is just as important as your baby's!
Babogue Newborn Sleep Series
Here at Babogue, our Newborn Sleep Series will help you to understand what to expect from your little one, the problems that may arise and how you can resolve them! Within the Sleep Series, you will be provided with 13 video files and 5 files that provide you with tips and help to manage your baby's sleep. The Sleep Series via its 7 Steps to Better Sleep, gives you foundations on how to create settled sleep, from the moment you bring your baby home, up to 4 months of age. Find out more about our Newborn Sleep Series on our website and try out a preview to see for yourself how Erica can help you and your family achieve the Gift of Sleep.