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5 tips to help your newborn sleep

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Need some serious shut-eye? We ask Fern Bishop and Dawn Grey – founders of The Big Sleep Co. – for their top tips for new parents

tired lady

Life with a newborn is a rollercoaster of overwhelming emotions; the tiredness, the love, the worry and the joy! In the very early days, you’ll be in a state of survival, taking each moment as it comes and getting to know your little one. This is just as it should be.

Brand new babies only have two stages within their sleep cycle. They experience REM sleep - the state where we experience dreaming and memory consolidation. And stage 3/4 sleep – a deep, slow-wave, restorative slumber.

You may have noticed that sometimes your little one can seemingly sleep through absolutely anything. Other times, they are easily startled and woken. This all or nothing phase lasts until your baby is around four months, when their sleep cycles begin to mature.

We encourage a baby led ethos at The Big Sleep Co. By this, we mean empowering parents to feel confident in recognising their baby’s individual cues and in being responsive to them. However, we know this can be tricky - especially for first time parents.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Pura to offer these handy tips:

Newborn and parents

#1. If your little one prefers napping in arms (this is often called contact napping), that is totally okay! In fact, it’s very normal for your new baby to want to be as close to you as possible. You are their safe place. But we understand that sometimes, you just need a hot cuppa and a shower! It can be frustrating when you think you’ve timed the transfer to the crib just perfectly, only for them to instantly wake and cry.

Try this: Pop your finger into the palm of their hand. If they grasp, they are in the lighter stage of sleep and are likely to be disturbed. If they remain relaxed and don’t respond to your touch, they are likely to be in the deeper stages of sleep and this will set you up for a much more successful getaway - er, we mean transfer!

 #2. Babies aren’t born with a circadian rhythm- this means that many might have their days and nights “mixed up (hello 2am Netflix watching).

Try this: Expose baby to broad spectrum daylight, ideally in the early to mid-morning. Towards the evening, dim the lights and keep things calm and relaxed. These environmental cues at the right times of day will help baby adapt quicker.  

mum rocking baby

#3. Cat napping! Naps are the holy grail for many parents, a moment to eat with two hands, tend to a chore or even just catch some rest yourself. However, we find so many parents feeling frustrated over their baby’s inability to nap longer than 20 minutes. This is biologically normal and not something to worry about. Consolidation of sleep, and the ability to independently knit two sleep cycles together, happens differently for each baby, and some may not be able to do so until they are five or six months old.

 Try This: Use motion or touch to extend the nap. Keeping a close eye on your little one, watch for early signs that they are passing into their lighter stage of sleep and may begin waking. Gently shush, rock the buggy, sway in arms or latch on for a sleepy feed, to get them back to sleep. Then, using our earlier palm press tip, make the transfer back to crib if needed. This can help extend the nap without any distress. Helping them will not hinder them, the more they practice moving from one cycle to the next (even with support), the better they will get at it.

#4. If your baby seems easily disturbed and you’re struggling to settle them out of arms, consider white noise. This is an umbrella term for a static sounding continual noise that mimics the whooshing of the placenta, recreating a sense of calm and security they experienced in the womb. We prefer to avoid pink noise, a variation of this sound, as some research suggests that it increases the deeper stages of sleep, which could impact safe sleeping.

Try this: Keeping the cot clear for safe sleep, use a white noise machine positioned away from the cot but loud enough to fill the room, and leave on continuously throughout the night. Timed machines may disrupt sleep when it turns off.

#5. Do you need to think about a sleep schedule immediately? Some parents may feel that by preparing early, they may be setting themselves up for a great sleeper. Certainly, good habits lay great foundations, but stress-causing sleep schedules that may not align with your baby’s needs or nature can cause more harm than good.

Try This: Support their developing circadian rhythm and use one of our age specific sleep programmes to feel confident in recognising your little one’s sleep cues. By around eight weeks, you’ll want to introduce a gentle bedtime routine and begin “anchoring” your day with regular morning wake-ups and bedtimes.

Fern and Dawn, The Big Sleep

 Fern and Dawn from The Big Sleep Co. will be talking through all this - and more - with Pura customers in a live Q&A. Join us, and them, for the Instagram Takeover at 7.30pm on Friday 12th March.

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