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A good night’s sleep can seem like winning the lottery to new parents. Follow this guide and you might be getting some quality sleep soon
Family and friends have probably been teasing you about preparing for sleepless nights since you first told them you were pregnant. New parents and sleep can make ideal bedfellows, though – you just need a few tried-and-tested techniques to fall back on.
Time for bed
Newborn babies have no concept of the difference between night and day. As they grow, you can help them learn by making night-time feeds and nappy changes different from daytime ones. Keep the room quiet and dark at night, and settle them straight back down afterwards. Start a routine early, and keep it consistent. A bath, feed and laying baby gently down every night, for example, will help them relax and signal that it’s time to sleep. Try not to rush this: creating a calm, regular routine will help soothe them.
Sleep like a baby
Let go of your own ideas about it being too early for bed, and go to sleep when your newborn does, even if it’s 6.30pm! Catch up on sleep rather than chores by joining baby for a daytime nap. Help them relax at the end of the day with familiar activities, and avoid overstimulation by not doing too many new things in any one day. Don’t creep around while your baby is sleeping – they will become used to familiar noises and learn not to be bothered by them.
Night off for new parents
If you’re bottle feeding your new baby, take turns with your partner to do night feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, your partner could still change your baby’s nappy and then bring them to you during the night. When baby wakes in the night and you think they’re not hungry, wait to see if they drift back to sleep before getting up yourself.
Make sure your own bedroom is cool and dark at bedtime, and steer clear of nicotine, caffeine and alcohol to help with a good night’s sleep. Avoid looking at the clock or becoming focused on how many times you were woken during the night. Take the opportunity to make the most of offers of help from daytime visitors, and let them look after baby while you reward yourself with some well-deserved sleep.
Mum-to-mum top tips
‘It’s never too early to get a routine going!’ says parenting blogger Charlotte Doyle. ‘Both our children settled well after a short bath, milk and cuddles, and finally the same lullaby (You Are My Sunshine) that they learnt to associate with bedtime. We also swaddled our babies up to three months and used white noise (from an app on a phone). I can’t recommend white noise enough. Babies love continuous loud noise just as they heard when they were in the womb – and it’s brilliant when baby is overtired and struggling to settle.’
By Jo Walsh