The following article has been written for ergoPouch by certified paediatric sleep consultant Laura Davis.
Becoming a parent is such an incredibly magical and exciting time. It can also be exhausting and confusing, especially when it comes to your newborn’s sleep!
As a mum and certified paediatric sleep consultant, I meet many parents who do everything they can to prepare for birth, feeding and setting up their nursery. One thing that is commonly overlooked before baby arrives, is preparing yourself with the knowledge to create safe, comfortable and sleep-promoting practises to get the most out of your newborn’s sleep.
to minimise and manage sleep deprivation with a newborn
Did you know there are ways to minimise sleep deprivation with a newborn? Let’s take a look at my top five tips to get you a little more sleep during the fourth trimester:
Wake windows: Based on your baby’s age, wake windows describe the maximum amount of time your little one can be awake before they start getting grumpy and head into overtired territory. For a newborn these wake windows are only 45-60 minutes! And this includes a feed, burp and nappy change. Being mindful of these wake windows will support longer, more restful naps and will help prevent your little one becoming overstimulated, thus preventing some intense meltdowns.
Offering supported sleep: Another common mistake we often make as new parents is expecting our newborns to simply sleep when they’re tired (without any encouragement from us!). Now don’t get me wrong, there will be a period of time in the beginning where all your newborn wants to do is sleep and they will sleep anytime, anywhere! However between 4-6 weeks your little one will become a lot more alert and awake in the world, which often means once their wake window is up, we need to offer them support to fall asleep. This could look like a nap in the pram or carrier/sling or even rocking and cuddling followed by a transfer to their crib, Moses basket or cot. Overnight this might look like feeding your little one to sleep before putting them down for sleep.
Practise naps on the go: Being chained to the house with your newborn in order to achieve better sleep should never feel like a must! Getting out and about is not only great for you (when you’re ready!), but also great for your little one as they learn to adapt to sleeping in different environments. My favourite item for sleep on the go is the ergoPouch Easy Sleep Portable Crib
- it is a lightweight, portable safe sleep space for your little one featuring a mesh body for breathability plus a thin, firm mattress to keep baby comfortable. This product is a must have for new parents who don’t want to feel like they are house bound during that magical fourth trimester. It also doubles as a safe space to pop your little one down during awake time and is perfect for those warm summer days by the pool or at the park! Just make sure you always keep your little one dressed appropriately for the weather and in the shade!
Swaddling: Being swaddled is an incredibly calming experience for your newborn. It helps keep their startle reflex at bay and reminds them of being nice and snug and safe in the womb. It is important to swaddle your baby safely and for the right temperature as newborns cannot regulate their own body temp. An easy way to do this is with the ergoPouch Cocoon Swaddle Bag, which offers the ease of being able to zip your little one up (no crazy origami experience required!), and because they are all TOG rated you can be sure you’re dressing them appropriately for the temperature of their sleep space. My son was in one of these from the day he came home from the hospital and they were an absolute dream as a new mum!
Wait, observe & then respond (only if you need to!): I’m going to leave you with my number one tip for promoting longer stretches of sleep in your newborn. Newborns spend 50% of their sleep in active sleep (compared to adults who only spend around 20%). Active sleep, also known as REM sleep, often looks like your baby is literally awake or about to wake up! The wriggle, squirm, open/flutter their eyes, make noises, throw their arms and legs around - but I promise you, 99% of the time they are actually still asleep! Instead of rushing to pick your little one up or accepting that the short lived nap is over, instead when you see them in active sleep - Wait, observe and then only respond if you need to. You might want to just pop a firm but gentle hand on their chest and give them a little rock from side to side whilst shushing to help their transition into a deeper sleep. If they start crying give them a minute with your support and see if they continue to doze.. they may just surprise you! If not, don’t let it stress you out, pick up baby and carry on with your day!
Remember, as long as you and your new baby are safe and happy, you really can do no wrong in the fourth trimester! These tips for dealing with sleep deprivation with newborns should layer on top of your motherly intuition because at the end of the day, you know your baby best. And I promise with lots of patience and practise they will start sleeping longer stretches and the fog and haze of sleep deprivation will lift.
Some final tips to help you on your sleep journey:
Use white noise continuously for sleep time
If you want to offer a dummy this can be very soothing and has also been found to reduce the risk of SIDS
Nice full feeds every 2-3 hours
Get into a morning and night time routine from around 6 weeks to start familiarising your little one with bedtime
Ask for help, whether that’s from your partner, family, friends or a sleep consultant. You never have to go on this journey alone
About the Author
Laura Davis, mum, podcast host, certified paediatric sleep consultant and Founder of Halcyon Sleep Ltd.
As a mum of one and one on the way, Laura has been supporting families all over the world from the UK, Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand to the UAE since 2020.
Her best-selling Halcyon Sleep Newborn - 3 Month Sleep Guide has helped hundreds of families feel empowered and informed when it comes to promoting healthy and safe sleep in the fourth trimester. She also created Halcyon Sleep courses from 4 months to 4 years that have shown great parents how to get great sleep through non-judgemental, loving and safe sleep coaching.
You can find her on Instagram @halcyonsleep and via her podcast ‘Rest is Best’ available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more.
<p>We've reached that time of year where the nights are darker, and the sun is setting early (hello winter, and cosy days to come!). This time change is a crowd-pleaser, we technically GAIN an extra hour of sleep (or do we?) #kids.</p>
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