Top Sleep Tips You’ll Be Glad You Read!
Get Some Rest
Babies are usually super sleepy in their first few weeks of life so it’s a good idea to take advantage of that. This means sleeping when baby sleeps. Newborn’s will sleep approximately 10 to 18 hours a day on an irregular schedule, spending between one and three hours awake at a time. Babies will often nod off after a feed so the best thing to do is wind them, swaddle them and then get them cosy in their crib close by and grab a quick nap yourself. Alternatively, ask your partner or family members to have some cuddle time with baby so you can have some time to yourself to relax and snooze.
Switch It Up
Make day times and night times different. Newborn’s can’t differentiate daytime and night time until their circadian rhythms begin to develop at about six weeks old. A regular sleep-wake cycle doesn’t form until around three to six months old. Research conducted by the University of Texas suggests you can help babies differentiate between different times of the day by controlling their light exposure. In the daytime make sure the curtains are open and at night-time/ sleep time use a black out blind to ensure the room is dark.
During the day babies need stimulation to tire them out, The Literacy Trust suggest that talking to your baby helps stimulates them strengthening the connections that make learning possible and helps develop social skills. Other fun things to do including singing along to the radio, tummy time and play time with brightly coloured toys. Another top tip is to start creating a routine i.e. wake baby up every three hours, change their nappy and then feed them. However, during the night-time it is best to let baby sleep, only waking them to change a dirty nappy. When feeding in the night, let baby wake up naturally, use a soft light and speak in calm, reassuring tones
Replicate the Womb
Throughout the duration of your pregnancy, your baby will not experience silence. Inside the womb is a noisy place meaning baby can hear whooshing noises from the amniotic fluids, your heartbeat, gurgles from your digestive system and echoey voices from outside the womb. According to Medical News Today, by 22 to 24 weeks your baby will be around the size of a mango and will be able to hear low-frequency noises from outside the womb. As they grow inside the womb, they will be able to distinguish an increasing number of sounds.
Research undertaken by the University of South Florida suggests that the most important time for hearing development is between 25 weeks of pregnancy and 6 months of age. This is why it is important to continue to reassure baby with your familiar voices and listening to womb-like sounds. There are many great white noise machines, apps and playlists to help your baby feel safer and sleep more soundly.
Skin to Skin
If your baby spent time in NICU you will already be familiar with the importance of this practice. It is widely encouraged in birthing and baby units. To make the most out of skin to skin it is best to dress baby in just a nappy, remove your clothing from the waist up and place baby on your chest. Wrap a cotton or woollen blanket around you to ensure you both feel cosy and comfortable. Unicef have compiled a fabulous list of research into skin to skin, the main findings are that skin to skin contact regulates baby’s heart rate and breathing by improving oxygen saturation helping them to better adapt to life outside of the womb. Other benefits include calming and relaxing mum and baby, stimulating digestion and increasing interest in feeding whilst also enabling colonisation of the baby’s skin with mum’s friendly bacteria, providing protection against infection.
Preparation is Key
According to research, nesting tends to begin in week 28 of pregnancy when expecting mums will feel a burst of energy and an instinct to clean and organise. Nesting is believed to be nature’s way of preparing you to nurture a child by creating an increased amount of adrenaline in the body. Useful things to do during this time are to wash baby’s clothes and prepare the nursery. As previously mentioned in point 1, being able to completely black out the nursery is essential so invest in a good blind or pair of curtains. This will help develop a sleep pattern and increase your baby’s release of melatonin, also known as the sleepy hormone. Increased levels of melatonin can help baby to settle themselves easier. In order to make night-time easier once your newborn arrives it is a good idea to have a designated changing station with spare clothes, nappies, wipes and creams on hand. Another top tip is to have the changing station in baby’s nursery, so they get used to spending time in there and getting ready for night-time in there before they fully transition to their own room.