Mastering the art of getting your baby to sleep
31119 Dr Fysh - Dec 03, 2015
Along with feeding, sleeping is likely to be your major focus in the early days and weeks of your baby’s life. How your baby sleeps will determine how you structure your life and a good sleep routine can go a long way to helping make things more manageable. Expect to have many, many conversations about sleep with other new mums in the next few months!
The first thing to remember is that all babies are different. Some babies sleep far more than others. Some seem to be ‘easy’ sleepers while others seem to resist sleep regardless of how tired they are. It can be easy to compare yourself unfavourably to other mums as there will always be someone who appears to be doing ‘better’ with their new baby.
Try and be patient with yourself and your baby. Things quickly get easier for most people and often those who have ‘easy’ early weeks may find that any problems they encounter later on are harder to deal with.
Whatever your baby’s sleep pattern, it is unlikely to be the same as the one you are used to! To get as much rest as possible, sleep when your baby sleeps. It can be tempting to use the time your baby is resting to catch up on the many chores that are likely to be mounting up around the house but make sure your priority is looking after yourself. Especially in the early days. Grab sleep whenever you can – the washing can wait!
For the first six months it is recommended that your baby should be in the same room as you when they are asleep. In the early days your baby may only want to fall asleep while in your arms.
You can gradually get the baby used to going to sleep in their cot by putting them down just after a feed or just before you think they are about to fall asleep. Some babies will take to this faster than others but with perseverance they will get used to falling asleep on their own.
All babies are different with some needing more sleep than others. Most new-borns sleep for 16 to 18 hours each day although obviously that is split over many naps, and they will wake during the night to be fed.
Should I have a routine?
There are differing opinions on this amongst parents. The first few weeks are likely to be very changeable with you and your baby finding what patterns work for you. Much of the routine will be led by what the baby wants but there are some things you might want to do to help you get more sleep such as waking the baby for a feed just before you go to bed in the hope that they will settle for longer. As with so many aspects of looking after your baby, the most important thing is finding what works for you and your baby.
If you find you are struggling to develop any kind of routine and are finding it hard to keep up with the demands of the baby, then make sure you ask for help. Your doctor or midwife may be able to refer you for help on establishing sleep routines. The early days can be hard and the key thing to remember is that it is important to ask for help if you feel like you aren’t coping well. Things get easier over time.
About Dr Fysh
Dr Fysh is one of the country’s leading consultant paediatricians, currently a consultant at The Portland Hospital for Women and Children, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians. Having experienced first-hand the suffering caused by serious medical conditions to babies and young children and the emotional and financial strain that this can place on parents on a daily basis. He joined the board of directors as Chief Medical Officer and has been instrumental in the building of the NurtureFirst product.