Settling a newborn baby to sleep is like finding that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow….we dream about it but it’s not always attainable.
Babies are adorable, huggable and oh so loveable but sleeping is often not part of the deal. BUT it is certainly NOT impossible and with perseverance, a bit of luck and these top tips, we’ll have you settling a newborn baby like a pro.
Top Tips For Settling A Newborn Baby To Sleep
1) Distinguish between Day and Night
For nine months, your baby has lived in darkness and tended to sleep while you were out and about during the day and then got all kicky while you were quiet at night.
So it’s quite normal for newborn bubs to be sleepy during the day and wide awake at night – not great for the parents though.
It may take a few weeks for your baby to get used to the new rhythm of things outside your tum – but after a month or so, your baby would have adjusted.
There are a few things you can do to help your baby get used to the idea that night is for sleeping, rather than playing:
- Keep baby’s room dimly lit and quiet at night.
- When your baby wakes during the night, be sure not to turn on a bright light. Rather keep a dim night light in the room so as not to rouse your baby too much. This also helps settling a newborn back to sleep after a feed.
- During the night, it’s best to attend to your baby’s needs as quick as you are able so they don’t get distressed. The quicker you respond to your bub’s cries, the quicker you can start the settling process.
- Try and give night feeds in your baby’s bedroom. But during day, you can feed out and about or around the house. This will help your newborn to distinguish between day and night feeds.
- Don’t be tempted to play with your baby at night. Even if your bub appears to be wide awake, keep your voice soothing and quiet so they know it’s sleep time and not playtime.
2) Establish A (Flexible) Routine
I have a friend whose baby was born a few days after mine. Her bub came a week or so early so he was in the NICU baby ward for a little while. When her bub came home, he was already in an impressive routine. While I was a floundering wreck as a first-time mum, my friend’s newborn was sleeping and feeding like clockwork.
This goes to show that it is possible to get a baby into a routine right from the very beginning – but you just have to be confident and knowledgable when implementing this.
You can start getting your baby into a routine by following a similar order of activities each day – for example, play, feed, sleep and repeat. This will help your baby start to settle into a regular sleep pattern.
Find a routine that works for you and your family. Keep in mind that your friend’s routine may be completely different to yours and that’s absolutely fine. You need to refine your daily routine so that it is sustainable and doesn’t put too much pressure on you.
Try and be flexible with your routine, especially in the beginning. Newborns can be unpredictable so it’s important to be able to adapt your routine when necessary.
A basic routine for a newborn baby could look like this:
- play, talk and sing with your baby
- feed your baby
- change baby’s nappy
- start the sleep settling process when baby shows tired signs.
At night, leave out the play part and instead focus on settling your newborn straight back to sleep.
3) Integrate Clear Sleep Cues
Sleep-cues signal to your baby that is time for sleep. In the first few weeks, sleep cues often come from the parent. These include rocking, pushing your bub in the pram or driving them in the car.
It’s a good idea to gradually implement parent-independent sleep cues so your baby doesn’t rely on you or your actions to help them get back to sleep. You can try settling a newborn to sleep by wrapping or swaddling your baby so their arms can’t flail around during sleep and placing their cot or bassinet in a dark, quiet place away from stimulation and noise.
If your baby wakes during the night, they will discover that their regular sleep cues are still in place and will hopefully learn to go back to sleep by themselves.
4) As Soon As You See Tired Signs, Start To Settle
Babies get overstimulated and overtired very quickly and once they go over the ‘edge’, it’s just so much more difficult to settle a newborn baby and get them to calm down and go to sleep.
Tired signs include yawling, frowning, staring, jerky movements, rubbing eyes, clenching fists, becoming more fussy and crying. As soon as you see any of these tired signs, you know that your baby is ready for sleep. It’s best to react quickly once you detect the tired signs and get your baby ready for bed. If you wait too long, your bub may become distressed and will be more resistant to going down for a nap.
5) Start The Settling Process When Your Baby is Awake But Drowsy
This is not that easy for a parent to get the hang of, but putting your baby in bed drowsy, but awake, is really important in the process of self-soothing.
If your baby is aware of being placed in their bed when they are already tired and ready for sleep, they will be more likely to fall asleep on their own when they wake up in the middle of the night.
If your baby falls asleep in your arms or while feeding, they may become disoriented when waking up in the middle of the night and wonder why they are suddenly in their cot by themselves.
This doesn’t mean you need to just let your baby ‘cry it out’. It’s normal for babies to grizzle when you first put them in their cot. If they start crying properly, pick them up and settle them and then place them back into the cot.
Some parents use the patting technique to settle their baby. With this technique, parents pat their bub whilst in their cot, to help calm them down. Then stop patting before their baby falls asleep.
6) Settle Your Baby Safely
It’s important for parents to understand the guidelines for safe sleeping. These include:
- Place your bub to sleep on their back, not on their tummy or side
- Ensure your baby’s head and face are uncovered
- Ensure that your baby’s environment is smoke-free
- It is recommended that babies should sleep in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as the parent for at least the first six months.
For complete peace of mind, I would recommend parents add the Owlet Smart Sock and Owlet Cam to their list of newborn must-haves.
The Owlet Smart Sock is an intelligent baby monitor consists of a sock that is easily fitted to bub’s foot. The device then tracks baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels and sends real-time insights to my phone. The monitor will alert parents only if something seems not right while your baby is sleeping. How clever is that!
The sophisticated Owlet Cam streams HD video with night vision and two-way audio to my smartphone over a secure, encrypted WiFi connection. The cam integrates seamlessly with the Owlet Smart Sock in the Owlet App, so you get all-round monitoring of your baby.
Using The Owlet Monitor Duo (the Owlet Smart Sock + Cam) is, in my opinion, a crucial part of safe sleeping and in turn, reduces parents’ anxiety and helps them to sleep better.
What are your tips for settling a newborn to sleep? Tell us in the comments below.
For more details and to buy Owlet baby monitor products visit owletcare.com.au
Every Owlet product comes with a 45-day Peace of Mind Guarantee. If you aren’t 100% satisfied with your product, you can return it within 45 days of purchase.
The Mouths of Mums team is working with Owlet to bring you this article. We love that Owlet was developed by parents with a simple vision – to create products that help parents know that their babies are ok. Check out the full Owlet product range at owletcare.com.au.
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