Adjusting to your baby's sleep pattern is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood.
New babies wake every few hours to feed and can wake several times throughout the night. And even when they are sleeping, they can be quite restless and noisy.
All this can mean a very sleep-deprived mom, even more so if you've got other kids at home.
Top tips for sleep
While there's no miracle solution to make your baby sleep, following these five tips can at least help.
- Take a walk on the dark side: Darkness is essential to help your baby sleep as it triggers sleep hormones. Natural light and blue-based artificial light stimulate us to be alert and awake. So get some black-out blinds or curtains and keep the room as dark as possible.
- Keep the room cool: Our body temperature naturally dips as part of the process of falling asleep, so a cool room can assist this process. 16-20°C is the ideal room temperature and you should use a thermometer to make sure it's just right. Make sure your baby is dressed adequately.
- Form a routine: Babies really like to know what is coming next. A predictable routine helps them feel safe, secure and relaxed. A set time for sleeping, eating and waking will help bring structure to their day. Try a bedtime ritual such as a bath, changing into their sleep suit, and a certain bedtime song.
- Focus on how they fall asleep: Practice independent sleep skills which can help them achieve longer restorative periods of sleep without your intervention.
- Look after you: Well-rested parents are better able to help their babies regulate themselves. If you're exhausted, it will be that much harder to get your baby to calm down. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to help your little one get the right amount of quality sleep.
How much sleep do babies need?
This varies a lot but here is a good guide for you to work with:
Newborn to 3 months
- Recommended total sleep per day: 14–17 hours
- Acceptable range: Not less than 11 hours or more than 19 hours
- Nighttime sleep: 8–9 hours (waking up every 2–3 hours to feed)
- Naps: 7–9 hours (3–5 naps)
4 to 11 months
- Recommended total sleep per day: 12–15 hours
- Acceptable range: Not less than 10 hours or more than 18 hours
- Nighttime sleep: 8–10 hours
- Naps: 4–5 hours (2–3 naps)
Make sure your newborn lies flat on his or her back in their crib or bassinet without any loose bedding, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals or crib bumpers.
Experts also recommend room-sharing until your baby is at least six months old. But they shouldn't sleep in your bed.
These safe sleep practices prevent overheating and suffocation, and reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.