Baby essentials after birth: SIX ways to help newborns sleep
Baby essentials after birth: SIX ways to help newborns sleep Being a new parent is truly exhausting. Even though you probably thought you had all those mum-to-be-essentials covered prior to birth, once baby arrives, you realise that’s when the hard work begins. Everybody gets obsessed with the packed hospital bag. But the newborn stage is the most exhausting time any of us will probably experience in our entire lives. Trust us. We know. We’ve been there – five times over.
After pregnancy and birth, your body is very fatigued and is doing it’s best to heal. Meanwhile, you have a little bundle of joy who seems more intent on keeping you awake than anything else. But don’t despair. The good thing about parenting is that billions have trodden this tough and beautiful path before you. There are hundreds of tried and tested tips to help your little one sleep well. As parents of numerous children, the Oh Mama team has put together their top list of sleeping baby essentials after birth tips.
The dream feed – a baby essential
Dream feeds are a good way of pushing your baby to sleep more when you do. The dream feed is named thus because the ideal time to administer is is right before you go to bed. Your baby might be sound asleep at this time, and ready to wake at 2am for a feed. But the dream feed pre-empts this and allows you to fill your baby’s tummy without waking them up completely. In theory, he or she will sleep for a longer stretch and parents will be able to catch up on valuable sleep.
The trick to the dream feed is to wake your baby only just enough for them to take a feed. They can still be in a state of semi-sleep, but be conscious enough to swallow, and then gently be burped. At this point of course, you hope against hope that they don’t also fill their nappy. Keeping your little one asleep while changing them is a lot harder to do.
Swaddle and wrap after birth
Babies like to feel secure and firmly held. For months they have been existing in your womb, which has decreased in size as they have grown. The sudden ability for them to stretch and wave their limbs freely can be quite alarming for them. Swaddling keeps them from making the startle reflex – and it also makes them feel safe and secure. Swaddling works well usually until babies are three to four months old. You can still swaddle. But try swaddling the lower body only and leaving either one or both arms free.
At this age, babies often sleep most soundly on their backs with both arms above their heads. If you try to contain little arms that want to be free, your baby will get cross and frustrated. Always use a proper, breathable swaddle that has a slight stretch to it and is made of natural materials. Bamboo and muslin cloths work best.
Experiment with white noise
Ever noticed your baby will sleep in a room full of people and then refuse to sleep when the house is super quiet? Babies hear constant noise in the womb. From the gurgles of your digestion to the rhythmic beat of your heart, and the noise you experience while you are out and about. A completely silent world is alien to them. They often need to hear background noise in order to settle. Experiment with white noise CD’s and MP3 files you can download from online. You can also buy in-crib gadgets that produce a range of white noises that play quietly next to your baby to keep them settled. These are handy because you can pop them in the baby bag and take them with you wherever you go.
Create a sleep and eat cycle as soon as you can after birth
Babies need to be observed carefully so you can pick up on their cues. A baby will typically wake from a long and satisfying nap because their tummy is empty. Babiesfeed more successfully if they are well rested, so feeding them immediately upon wake up is a good idea. Burp your baby halfway through a feed – and afterwards as well. This ensures their tummies are full of milk, not air. It also helps prevent big, burpy spit-ups once you put them down again.
After burping, have some quality time with your baby. Cuddling, eye contact, talking etc. During this time, change their nappy and make sure they are dry and comfortable. Pretty soon you’ll see some tiredness cues happening. Jerky movements, crankiness and hiccups all indicate that your baby is feeling fatigued. Check their nappy again, swaddle them, and put them back down for a nap. For newborns (birth to six weeks) the average time between naps should not be longer than two hours.
Good sleep is the key to good feeding, which is the key to a healthy digestion and a more contented and settled baby. And we all want that.
Baby essentials #4 Be vigilant with daytime naps
One a baby reaches 12 weeks, set daytime naps can really help you form a manageable routine. If your baby sleeps too much during the day, you’ll end up with a wakeful baby at night. This problem is very common, and may parents describe their baby as ‘having turned day into night’. It’s totally exhausting and it’s a cycle that should be broken as early as possible. The older a baby is, the more resistance they will show when you introduce nap time boundaries.
You Should make sure that your baby doesn;t sleep for more than 2.5 hours at a stretch. Two long naps a day is perfectly fine. And sometimes when babies are teething, they can need more sleep. Generally, your baby will sleep better at night if they don;t over-sleep during the day. A nap after breakfast, woken for lunch and a short play, followed by another long nap, a feed, a play and then a strong bedtime regime, should help them and you, get more sleep during the night.
I know it’s hard to wake a sleeping baby, but sleeping too long of a stretch during the day can rob nighttime sleep. If the baby sleeps past the 2 – 2.5 hour mark, I would go ahead and wake the baby up, feed him, keep him a wake for a bit, and then lay him down for another nap. If you feel the baby truly needs longer naps, feel free to increase the nap limit to 2.5 hours. Breaking up sleep during the day will help your newborn baby sleep better at night.
Baby essentials #5 Have a bedtime routine
Perhaps you think your little one is too small to appreciate a bedtime story. But this last piece of advice is one of our favourite baby essentials after birth tips. A bedtime routine is essential as babies learn through the familiar cues, when it’s to sleep. A warm bath, a feed, a bedtime story and a final change, them swaddle your baby for bed. Keep your voice low and calm. Keep lights dimmed.
Often, pretty blinking lights on the ceiling can mesmerize your baby and help them to relax and sleep. Try to put your baby into their bed while they are awake – not asleep. The faster they learn to fall asleep without your assistance and rocking arms, the easier they will be to settle. Tuck a blankie into your nursing bra so it smells of mama boobs. This can be a great soother because it’s comforting and familiar. Obviously follow all current safety guidelines on placing items in your baby’s bed.