Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Newborn Sleep Myths

Becoming a new parent is such an amazing time in your life.  But it's also full of questions and advice from well meaning family, friends and strangers.  I wanted to share with you some questions I had when my first daughter was born and common concerns of new parents.

Newborn Sleep Myth #1

Baby's instinctively know how to sleep - FALSE!

This fact is a surprise to new parents as most don't realize that your baby is not born knowing how to instinctively put them self to sleep.  Which means, it is okay to help your newborn fall asleep - you can nurse, rock, shush, pat (or anything else that is safe and works) to help your baby fall sleep.  You are not going to create any life long sleep habit.  In fact most sleep issues can be resolve after 6 months of age very, very quickly.  

Newborn Sleep Myth #2

Never waking a sleeping baby -  FALSE!

Newborns need to eat every 2-3 hours during the day.  If your baby is sleeping longer than 2-3 hours at a nap, wake your baby to eat during the day.  

Many baby's also need help learning the difference between day and night, to do this ensure your baby:
  • get lots of natural light during the day
  • wake baby from a nap if sleeping through a feed (as above)
  • keep night feeds quiet with no talking, dim or no night and definitely no electronics such as TV, Ipad, etc.  - this light can wake baby and you up more.  Tip - nightlight with a 4 watt bulb is all you need.

Newborn Sleep Myth #3

Most baby's sleep through the night at around 3 months - FALSE!

Waking to feed or for a change is perfectly normal for infants under 6 months.  Below reflects the current research showing the average number of times young babies wake up between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

  • 1 month: 3-4 times
  • 2 months: 2-3 times
  • 4 months: 1-2 times
  • 6 months: 0-1 times
Babies will vary and some will wake up a little more or less, but the important message is that young babies do wake during the night.

Newborn Sleep Myth #4

Baby can sleep anywhere - FALSE!

Creating a safe and positive sleep environment can be helpful in improving your baby's sleep to ensure they get restorative sleep both during the day and at night.  Your baby's sleep environment should be dark, quiet and cool.  Follow these tips for the ideal sleep environment:
  • use black out shades during the day and for the early morning
  • have soothing white noise with a consistent tone
  • keep sleeping space free of stimulating objects or mobiles
  • ideal sleeping temperature is 68-72 degrees.

Newborn Sleep Myth #5

Keep baby awake during the day and they will sleep better at night - FALSE!

In these early months your baby's day time sleep will very greatly, but around 4-5 months day time naps will begin to develop and lengthen.  Put your baby down for naps often as most newborns can't stay awake during the day more than 60-90 minutes.  The awake window will increase to around 2 hours at 4-5 months.   Putting your baby down for a nap often will ensure they are not over tired at bedtime and they will sleep better at night.

Sweet Dreams

Michelle S. Donaghy

Adapted from the "Gentle Sleep Coach - Baby Sleep Basics Workshop"  with permission.