Becoming a new parent is such an exciting, wonderful time but also comes along with all those wonderful questions once your gorgeous little person has arrived… my favourites are “is she good?” and “does baby sleep through the night yet?”. Parenting is already stressful without feeling that you need to live up to a standard of having “a good baby”. These questions are just harmless but can sometimes make you feel like you have failed before you have even begun.
The Fourth trimester is for living in your brand new baby bubble and getting to know this new tiny person.
Newborn sleep is completely different from adult sleep. While a very small amount of babies may sleep for extremely long stretches from a very young age, the majority will wake every 2-3 hours to feed or for comfort and this is completely normal newborn behaviour. Human beings are mammals and we are designed to have our little ones close by until they reach greater independence which comes from parents being responsive in the early years.
So what can you do to help baby sleep through the night?
1. Be Aware of Your Baby’s Awake Window
Newborns only have a short awake time between naps before needing to sleep again.
1 month = approx. 45 minutes
2 months = approx. 60 minutes
3 months = approx. 75 minutes
Of course, every baby is different and some may have a little more or a little less awake time.
2. Help Set Your Baby’s Internal Clock
At around 3 months old your baby’s circadian rhythm will kick in. A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours.
You can help your baby differentiate between night and day by exposing them to sunlight in the daytime and at night keeping their sleep space dark and calm.
3. Allow for Catnaps
Catnaps are completely normal for younger babies, so don’t feel panicked if your little is only doing a 20 or 45-minute nap at a time. Contact naps can often contribute to a longer than usual nap. Naps in the sling are also great for a little snooze together. Please visit The Lullaby Trust for safe sleeping guidelines.
The Fourth Trimester can be a really difficult period for lots of parents, having a newborn baby is a full-time job, and helping a newborn baby sleep can be exhausting. Please remember to be gentle on yourself and grab all the support around you with both hands.
One of the things I often say to parents is that “ You cannot pour from an empty cup”.
Parents need just as much support as our little ones do. You've got this new Mamma!