Written by Tracey Murray
Owner/Baby Sleep Specialist, Holistic Sleep Mumma
Tracey Murray, baby sleep specialist and owner of Holistic Sleep Mumma shares her top tips to support your baby’s sleep.
Newborn babies can be hard work, but the ‘fourth trimester’ is the most incredible experience - so new, raw, exciting, overwhelming, exhausting and filled with so much love.
At 6 weeks, your baby is waking up to the world. Maternal melatonin starts wearing off from 3 weeks of age - this means your sleepy newborn is now much more wakeful and sometimes harder to settle to sleep.
Newborn sleep is really messy and unpredictable. It might look like short naps, long naps, contact naps, car naps, bassinet/cot naps and inconsistent awake windows. Please know that this is normal, so don’t fret.
I am sure you have heard and received lots of advice from family, friends and even those 2am Google searches. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if you found it all contradictory.
So, I am going to share with you my top tips to support your babies sleep in a realistic approach.
Newborns are little koala’s! They love being close to you, which of course is biologically normal. Investing in a baby carrier is something I highly recommend. Your baby thrives off being in close proximity to you, so when they can feel, smell and touch you, they sleep really peacefully.
Your baby’s awake times are really short at this age. Once they are fed, burped and changed, there really isn’t much time left. Not to worry though, awake windows extend out as your baby grows. For now, all they can handle is about 60 minutes and this usually extends by 15 to 20 minutes every 4 to 5 weeks. For example, at around 10 weeks a baby’s awake window would be around 75 minutes, and 90 minutes at 14 weeks.
Keeping your newborn swaddled for sleep is going to prevent their startle reflex from disturbing them. The firmness of a safe tight swaddle will help mimic the snugness of the womb which is super comforting. Some babies can escape their traditional swaddle easily, so I have a hack for you!
I prefer sleeping bags over swaddles because they are TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rated, so it makes dressing your baby for sleep much easier. First swaddle your baby in a traditional muslin swaddle (ensuring it is loose around the hips for healthy hip development) and then put them in an age appropriate zip up sleeping bag swaddle.
This will keep your baby snug and safe at the same time.
Probably the most valuable piece of advice I can provide, is to not compare. It can be really easy to feel like you’re alone or that you’ll never get past the cluster feeding and 2-3 hourly feeds, especially when you hear of other babies sleeping for longer stretches.
Just know that these challenging times will pass and there is no shame in asking for help if you feel like they aren’t passing. Every baby is unique, every family is unique. Take deep breaths and get some fresh air on those tough days - it helps a lot.
If you need support, don’t go it alone. There are a range of support services to help new parents. For support on sleep, health, behavior and parenting you can call the Parent helpline (Child and Family Health Service) on 1300 364 100 to speak to a qualified nurse, social worker or community health worker or the Pregnancy, birth and baby helpline on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child nurse.
Health Partners members can get 10% off unlimited support provided by certified baby sleep consultants from Holistic Sleep Mumma.
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