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Navigating Newborn Sleep

baby asleep in cot.

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Bringing a newborn into the world is a beautiful and exciting experience, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to sleep. I’m here to guide you through those early weeks and months, helping both you and your baby get the rest you need. In this blog, we’ll focus on newborn sleep during the first 0-12 weeks, with an emphasis on healthy sleep patterns and gentle routines that promote well-rested nights. Remember, every baby is unique, so these tips are here to guide you, not dictate your parenting choices.

Newborn Sleep Patterns

During the first 0-12 weeks of life, a newborn’s sleep pattern is significantly different from that of older children and adults. Understanding these patterns is the first step in helping your baby get the sleep they need.

Total Sleep Time: Newborns need between 14-16 hours of sleep per day. This is divided between daytime naps and nighttime sleep.

Day vs. Night: At this stage, newborns often have their days and nights mixed up. It’s essential to help your baby learn the difference. During the day, keep the environment bright and engaging, and at night, create a calm and dark space for sleep.

Sleep Cycles: Newborns have shorter sleep cycles than adults, typically lasting 45-60 minutes. They spend about 50% of their sleep in deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) and 50% in REM (dream) sleep.

First 6 Weeks: Rest and Recovery

The initial six weeks post-birth are often referred to as the “fourth trimester.” During this time, your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb, and their sleep patterns are irregular. Here are some tips to help both you and your baby during this period:

Rest and Recover: Prioritise your own rest. Sleep when your baby sleeps to recharge your energy. Don’t worry about routines or schedules just yet.

Establishing Day-Night Difference: Help your baby learn the difference between day and night. Keep daytime activities engaging and bright, while nighttime should be quiet and dark. This aids in regulating their circadian rhythm.

6-12 Weeks: Setting Gentle Sleep Goals

As your baby approaches the 6-12 week mark, you can start gently working towards establishing more predictable sleep patterns. Keep in mind that these are optional goals, and it’s okay to adjust them according to your baby’s needs:

Putting Down Awake: Begin gently introducing the concept of putting your baby down to sleep while they are still awake. This helps them learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently over time.

Feeding When Awake: Try to feed your baby when they wake up, rather than just before a nap. This practice encourages your baby to associate feeding with wakefulness rather than sleep.

Bedtime Routine: Start introducing a bedtime routine. This can include activities like a warm bath, a gentle lullaby, or a bedtime story. Consistency in these routines helps signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep.

Remember, these goals are not strict rules but gentle guidelines. Every baby is different, and if what you’re currently doing works for your family, that’s perfectly fine.

Navigating newborn sleep can be challenging, but with patience and understanding, you and your baby can establish healthy sleep patterns that promote restful nights for everyone. If you find yourself facing the infamous 4-month sleep regression, stay tuned for our upcoming blog on that topic. In the meantime, trust your instincts and enjoy these precious early moments with your little one.

Were you aware that we provide an antenatal package designed to get you ready for your baby’s arrival? Feel free to book a complimentary 15-minute call to delve deeper into this offering.

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