How to help your newborn sleep better.

It’s likely you’ll experience a hazy mix of emotions during baby’s first few weeks. Yes, it’s magical and thrilling, but it’s also exhausting, intense and confusing. The sleep deprivation during this time is also at its absolutely height, with the endless feeding, nappy changes and (let’s face it) wonderful newborn snuggles. 

Whilst it’s too early for even the gentlest of sleep training (which is generally for 18 weeks and above), it is still possible to make some positive changes to encourage better sleep for baby and you. This is often called Sleep Shaping, and is something that can start from birth. It’s a way of setting up consistent rhythms and cues, giving baby some exposure to sleep habits and environments you want to eventually have established. It’s not about putting too much pressure on things – it’s about practicing good sleep habits. 

Some of my top Sleep Shaping tips include:

  1. Bedtime routine. 

You might think a bedtime routine is only for the older babies. Oh no – you can implement this from a very early age (even as early as 2 weeks!). This doesn’t (and shouldn’t) mean a long routine. A couple of simple steps that are flexible, but that you do each evening to set the scene and prepare them that nighttime is coming will be perfect! For example, a bath, a book and a lullaby. 

  1. Day time vs Night time mode. 

Have a day time and night time mode when interacting with baby. Use cues to signal day and night, encouraging baby’s circadian rhythm and helping them recognise night from day, sleepy time from awake time. For example, at naps or night time: make it dark and calm, speak in whispers and adopt a non-engaging, boring tone. In the daytime: give baby plenty of sunshine, and be more animated (speaking cheerfully, more loudly, etc.). 

  1. Feed upon waking.

It is also a good idea to get into the rhythm of feeding upon waking. This means, when they wake from their nap, or in the morning, they have a milk feed, some activity time, and then another nap. This helps them settle to sleep without milk putting them to sleep (which isn’t good for digestion and can cause a sleep association with feeding). Bedtime is the only exception to this, because they will have a feed before their night time sleep. Nevertheless, as you would during the day, you should still ensure that they are awake when you put them down for bed (allowing them to practice their sleep skills). 

  1. Familiarise baby with their sleep space. 

Practice putting baby down in their sleep space (e.g. cot) as much as possible. This familiarises them with the environment they will eventually be doing most of their sleeping in. Even if they are fussing, let them be in their sleep space for a few minutes. Trying just one nap a day in their cot can really help them become more familiar and comfortable with this space – and will help in the future. 

5. Use soothing techniques. 

Use soothing techniques such as shushing, stroking, patting, to encourage baby back to sleep. Don’t always resort to rocking or feeding (as long as you’re confident they’re not hungry of course) – by giving them more space to practice their sleep skills, you’re setting them up for more sleep success in the future. 

If you would like help with shaping your little one’s sleep, book a free Discovery Call with me or email me: I have a specific package tailored to Sleep Shaping.