Sleep, yours and your baby's, is one of the most asked about topics when working with families. So I thought I would ask someone who knows a lot about the topic, Ashley Cooley from Birth Baby Sleep. Ashley is a birth, baby and sleep specialist. I asked her the burning question that I often get asked. What are your top tip to help newborns sleep? Ashley was generous enough to give us her top five!
Top 5 Sleep Tips for the Newborn Stage
Newborns need a lot of sleep. On average, they’ll clock in about 14-17hrs of sleep per day but by no means is this sleep organized. This is because babies need to be fed frequently to meet their growth demands, but also because they do not yet have their own functioning circadian rhythm - that “internal body clock” that tells us when to sleep and when to wake-up all within a roughly 24hr period.
Basically, their sleep is erratic and sometimes unpredictable. So, here are some tips to help your new little one get their best sleep possible so you can all rest easy:
1. Help them fall asleep. Helping your little one to fall asleep is not only what they want from you, but it’s also often what they need from you. Your job with regards to their sleep right now is to keep them as well-rested as possible by any safe means necessary. Now is not the time to worry about “bad habits” or “sleep crutches.” Feeding, holding, bouncing, swaying or rocking are all proven and natural ways to help babies fall asleep.
2. Encourage regular napping. Whether your new baby sleeps for 20 minutes or 2 hours at a time, ensuring they are getting regular sleep is what to focus on at this point. Newborns under about 6 weeks of age usually need to sleep every 45 minutes to an hour. For babies over 6 weeks of age you might aim for closer to 1-1.5hrs of awake time between naps during the day. If you find this to be a struggle (because it can be tough at times), see the next tip:
3. Wear your baby. Use a carrier, wrap or sling to wear your baby if you can. Not only does this promote brain development, but it’s usually also their happy place and you’ll have your hands free!
4. Sleep on-demand. Let them sleep when they want, however long they want! Unless you still need to ensure more frequent feedings for their growth and development, the more they sleep, the better they sleep overall.
5. Sleep when they sleep if you can, at least once during the day. Babies usually have one longer stretch of sleep per day, so figure out when your baby does this and make sure you are sleeping then as well!
If you’d like to hear more sleep and parenting tips for Baby’s first year and beyond, follow Ashley @birth_baby_sleep on Instagram and Facebook and the Bringing Up Baby podcast on all podcast streaming platforms. You can also check out www.birthbabysleep.ca for information on all of our services.