How do newborns sleep and how can you help?
Are you pregnant and wondering what sleep with your newborn looks like? Or are you a new mom and unsure how your baby should sleep? I am Jovana – holistic sleep consultant for babies and toddlers. Here you will find out how newborns sleep, how you can calm them down and what swaddling has to do with baby sleep.
Table of contents:
1. How do newborns sleep?
When your baby is born, it doesn't yet know a day and night rhythm. Everything is new and the warm and close environment of mom's belly is no longer there. Although newborns sleep 15-18 hours a day, they often wake up during this time. So that your baby gradually gets used to sleeping more at night than during the day, you should let him sleep in the light during the day and put him in the dark bedroom between 7 and 9 p.m. in the evening. The plan is for your baby to sleep in the dark for about 11-12 hours at night and spend the other 12-13 hours in the light.
Your newborn only has two stages of sleep. REM (dream sleep) and non-REM (deep sleep). You will have noticed that sometimes your baby sleeps very deeply and doesn't care about anything. Your baby's breathing is very deep and regular and he doesn't move in his sleep. Have you ever found yourself checking to see if your baby is still breathing? This is the deep sleep phase. In the other phase - the dream sleep phase - your baby breathes very irregularly and moves while sleeping. You probably thought that it wasn't really sleeping, but rather awake. But your baby is sleeping and dreaming. It processes all the new impressions, it moves and you can also see the movement of the eyes under the eyelids if you look closely.
2. How much sleep does my baby need?
Most newborns need 15-18 hours of sleep in 24 hours. The length of sleep varies greatly among newborns. A 30 minute nap is just as normal as a 3 hour nap. After 3 hours, you should wake your baby up so that he or she drinks. It is important that your baby consumes enough calories and gains weight accordingly in the first few weeks.
3. How long can my baby stay awake?
Everything is new and stressful for your baby. It takes a lot of sleep. The so-called waking time shows you how long your baby can be awake. The waking time in the first 0-6 weeks is only 45-60 minutes. After 45-60 minutes (including drinking), you should offer your baby a nap again so that he or she does not become overtired. In the first three months, the waking time increases to around 1.5 hours.
4. How can I help my baby fall asleep?
Many babies first have to get used to our world. They miss the tightness of mom's stomach and quickly become overstimulated. In the first few weeks, swaddling your baby can really help. This means that you wrap it tightly in a swaddle sack or swaddle. Your baby is reminded of the womb and even the wildly waving arms cannot wake him up. Your baby may cry while swaddling at first, but give him some time and he'll get used to it and even enjoy it.
5. My baby still cries and won't let me put him down
Have you already swaddled your baby tightly, but he still doesn't want to sleep? Then I advise you to treat your baby with the 5S from Dr. Harvey Karp calms down. If your baby is restless in the evening and perhaps even overtired, try calming him down using the 5S method:
- Swaddle: Swaddle your baby. It is important that the swaddle fits snugly. Be careful, however, you should stop swaddling your baby if he or she starts to roll over. More on this later.
- Side position: Most babies feel more comfortable lying on their side. Take your baby in your arms and keep him facing you on his side. You can also put him on his side while lying down, but you should turn him back onto his back as soon as he falls asleep.
- Shhh sounds: Calm your baby with shhh sounds. These remind your baby of the sounds in the tummy. You can also use white noise - but you should leave it on throughout your sleep. I highly recommend monotonous noise without highs and lows. Did you know that white noise can also be helpful for adults?
- Rocking: Gently rock your baby back and forth. This is also reminiscent of the movements in the womb. If your baby is lying in bed, you can also place one hand on their stomach and wiggle your baby slightly.
- Suck: Newborns have a strong sucking reflex. Sucking calms her down. That's why you can offer your finger or a pacifier to suck on. Only offer the pacifier when breastfeeding is working well.
If you follow these 5 steps, your baby will calm down. It won't work right away, but the more you practice, the better it will get. The method is not intended to make your baby fall asleep, but it will make it easier for him to calm down. Once your baby has calmed down, try to lay him down awake every now and then so that the 5S does not become so-called sleep associations. You can start by putting your baby down when he or she is very sleepy and try to keep him or her more and more awake over time. Your baby also has to learn how to sleep first.
6. What happens without swaddling?
Your baby sleeps well when swaddled, but now he's starting to roll over? Are you confused because you don't know how your baby can sleep without swaddling? Then help your baby wean. I recommend the Wombambino to parents as a temporary solution. Your baby has enough freedom of movement, but at the same time you can still wrap their hands slightly so that there is a certain degree of tightness and security. Alternatively, you can unpuck your baby little by little. You start with one arm and after a few days you pop out the second arm too. You can only use this slow method if your baby is not yet rolling.
I hope that my article helps you and provides more relaxation in your everyday baby life! If you are looking for further tips for healthy baby sleep or would like individual advice, please feel free to contact me! Together we will ensure more sleep for your family!
Guest post by Jovana Witte from Tiny Dreamer:
Instagram : tinydreamer_sleep