What You Need To Know About Newborn Sleep!Dec 19, 2023
Welcome to parenthood! Whether you are a first, second, third or even sixth time parent, the arrival of a new baby is nothing short of life changing.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of newborn sleep, I want to talk to you about something important - your intuition - that feeling you get without knowing why that tells you that something just isn't quite right.
This is your biggest ally when it comes to your baby's sleep and it's what I want to encourage you to listen to. Your intuition is going to be what compels you to pick your baby up when they are crying or to feed them when everyone else says they can't possibly be hungry. It's what pushes you to get more answers when something just doesn't seem right.
There is so much noise in the sleep world, some of it helpful, but a lot of it can diminish that inner voice. While this guide is designed to do just that, guide you, above everything else you need to follow that gut feeling. You might feel it in the pit of your stomach, or at the bottom of your heart.
You will never regret following your instincts or your intuition.
Alright, now let's chat about what you can expect with your fresh new baby in the sleep department.
Your baby really is adjusting to the world for the first few months of their life and sleep and feeds may be all over the place!
Their body clock has been linked to yours up until now and they are only just establishing their own circadian rhythm which can make their sleep kind of wild and all over the place, especially during the first 12 weeks! You may experience:
- Shorter, more frequent naps
- Long consolidated naps
- Regular night wakes (they have such little tummies!)
- Late bedtimes
- Middle of the night parties
When do they need to sleep?
Because sleep can be crazy for the first few months, keeping an eye on tired cues and average awake times can really help to manage sleep!
Remember, awake times are just a rough guide, and your baby's tired cues will be unique to them. Use the photos below as a REFERENCE point!
Tired cues - what are you looking for?
It really is individual! Your time will be best spent by learning your baby's unique cues. Again, just use the photo below as a reference point - not as a rule.
Asleep all day, up all night?!
Most commonly known as day night confusion EEEK! Yes, it’s a real thing! Remember, your newborn hasn’t established their circadian rhythm yet which can mean they want to sleep all through the day but only nap at night! You can help them with this by:
- Waking every 2-3 hours for feeds and play through the day
- Exposing them to sunlight during their awake times in the day
- Lots of play and stimulation in the daytime
- Dimming the lights in the house an hour before bedtime
- Keeping nights as dark and non-stimulating as possible
They make so much noise!
Did you know that your newborn spends a lot of time in ‘REM sleep’ which is a light sleep phase (a super clever protective mechanism!). This means they can be super noisy and ‘active’ while still sleeping, this can look like:
- Lots of grunting, groaning and whimpering
- Tossing around a lot
- Flickering their eyes – they may even sleep with them open
- Crying out while they are sleeping
If you have a newborn and you notice this, just pause and see what they do! Remember, the chances are SO HIGH that they are still asleep!
They only want to contact nap!
Babies attach through the senses for the first year of their life. Their very survival depends on them being in close, sensory proximity to you as their primary caregiver which makes it really tough for them to sleep alone.
Your baby may act like they hate the bassinet, will only do short stretches of sleep when they aren’t held and you could find they are hard to settle when they aren’t in your arms – I promise you, you haven't done anything wrong and you aren't creating any ’bad habits' this is SO normal.
How to get some independent sleep?
If you are wanting to encourage some arms free sleep, that is more than okay! And some things that may help as:
- Ensuring their sleep space smells like you (consider sleeping with the sheet)
- Warm the bassinet before placing them in
- If you are wanting some bassinet sleep, considering holding them for 20 minutes and transferring after so they are going down in deep sleep
- Room sharing & baby wearing
- If you do want independent sleep, aim for just one nap a day and increase from there
Safe Sleep Guidelines
Before we get into the ins and outs of how we can help your baby sleep, we first need to make sure they are safe in their sleep environment. Please take the time to read over the below links and the summary of the key points when it comes to safe sleep. If you don't plan on bed-sharing, that is okay BUT I do suggest familiarising yourself with how to set up a safe bedsharing space regardless, you don't want to get caught off guard and this will be much safer than drifting off on a lounge or feeding chair for example.
Safe Sleep Links
To sum it up:
Give yourself grace in this season. You or your partner has just gone through birth, you're going through a huge transition for the entire family, and you're just getting to know a new little person!
Please don't be afraid to ask for help. You can't do everything alone. You've got this!
Want more help?! Our Newborn Guide can help!
A complete 60 page guide to help navigate and understand your baby’s sleep during the fourth trimester.
Focusing on birth – 16 weeks of age, I have complied everything you need to support your baby, set great sleep foundations and manage all the little hiccups that may come along the way.
We are going to cover everything from what biologically normal newborn sleep looks like, attachment during the fourth trimester, sleep environment, naps, settling, crying, night wakes and more!
Get it HERE!
Not looking for a guide? We've got you covered!
If you need some more support with your little one's, we'd love to help you!
1:1 Consultations (Worldwide!): HERE
The Gentle Sleep Coach Membership: HERE
P.S. We have a wonderful Instagram community! Join us HERE!
Hi! I'm Claire! A mum of three from Sydney, and a certified Holistic Sleep Specialist and Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. I work with children from birth right through to 5 years of age!
I know all too well the impact that sleep deprivation can have on the whole family, and the joy it can steal from what is meant to be the happiest time of your life!
After having my own two children, I became fascinated by all things concerning infant sleep and so I began the journey of 'The Gentle Sleep Coach'.
I am passionate about working with families to provide them with gentle, in-room, responsive and holistic approaches to sleep that they are 100% comfortable with. I work 1:1 with families to bring unique sleep solutions that work for them, their child and their values as parents! I look forward to helping you all get the sleep you deserve!