Sleeping through the night
Sleep is a funny old thing – all babies do it, but just not always at night when we want them to!
As a parent, it would be highly unusual not to be interested in when your baby will sleep through the night and what you can do to nudge them in the right direction!
Sleep is important for both physical and mental health in adults and for development and growth in babies. If baby sleeps well, then the chances are that Mum will too. A lack of sleep can be a contributing factor to PND and severe sleep deprivation (which has been used as a form of torture in the past) is no fun for anyone.
Let’s be fair, newborn babies have a fair few disadvantages when it comes to sleeping at night:
- They don’t know the difference between night and day
- They are born with a really small tummy so can’t fill it with enough milk to keep them going for much time between feeds
- They miss the comfort and closeness of the womb
- They are sensitive to the slightest discomfort, whether from wind, filling their nappies, teething or a change in room temperature
Some of these reasons can’t be eliminated, and sleeping through the night is far from automatic, but there are always ways to encourage baby to “sleep like a baby” at night.
All babies get there in the end, some just take longer than others. Enjoy the night feeds as much as you can – when your baby turns into a teenager, one day you may just reminisce fondly of the sleep-deprived cuddles and special moments together.
Top tips for a good night’s sleep for baby:
1) Baby should be in a light room and exposed to daylight and fresh air during the day and be involved with lively and stimulating activities.
2) At night, baby needs to be in a dark room with any feeding or nappy changing done calmly and quietly. If you do need some light to see what you’re doing, then chose a dimmable one with a golden glow (Meelight).
3) Establish a simple bedtime routine that works for you and your family. Turn off the TV or screens at least an hour before bedtime, to help baby (and you!) relax, and limit exposure to harmful ‘blue light’ (which causes wakefulness at night). Next you could give baby a warm bath and maybe a gentle massage. Follow with a story in their dimly lit bedroom and then a last feed before the lights go off.
4) It’s best to put baby down in their cot when drowsy rather than asleep, so they learn to settle themselves to sleep. Keep an eye out for signs baby is tired – fussing, eye rubbing, or crying.
5) When baby feeds at night, try to stop them falling asleep mid-feed. Fewer bigger feeds will help them stay fuller for longer rather than lots of small ones, hopefully resulting in less wakings.
6) All babies are different and newborn babies need to sleep on and off during the day - but if you think they’re on their way to sleeping all day and being awake and feeding all night then a gentle waking from over-extended daytime naps could be the answer.
All babies get there in the end, some just take longer than others.
Enjoy the night feeds as much as you can – when your baby turns into a teenager, one day you may just reminisce fondly of the sleep-deprived cuddles and special moments together.