The Ultimate Sleep Guide for New Parents

The Ultimate Sleep Guide for New Parents

You have spent a long 40 weeks waiting for this moment, and you have finally brought home your bundle of joy.

Your days are filled with snuggles, coos, and smiles—so much is going on that you realize that there is one thing missing:

Sleep!

You are not alone. Many new parents (and second and third time parents too) experience challenges when it comes to getting their newborns to sleep. As a new parent, it is often difficult to get a good night’s sleep yourself.

These sleep tips for parents will get you well on your way to getting better sleep, more often, for both you and your baby.

How Much Do Newborns Sleep?

This is one of the most asked questions by new parents, and for good reason. 

Newborn sleep cycles are much shorter than adults and their sleep patterns can be very unpredictable. 

Because their brains are developing at an extraordinary rate, newborns spend more time in REM sleep than adults. They haven’t developed a circadian rhythm yet, so they don’t have external cues like darkness to trigger their brains to sleep.

Don’t worry—this unpredictability doesn’t last long.

Newborn sleep patterns start to regulate at about six weeks as their circadian rhythms start developing, helping them sleep for longer stretches through the night.

By 5 to 6 months old, they start to have regular sleep and wake cycles, making it easier to sleep through the night. So hang in there!

In general, newborns sleep between 10 and 18 hours a day, with 1 to 3 hour periods of being awake.

Our best sleep advice for parents is to find out what’s normal for your child—it can be tempting to compare your baby to others, but not every baby sleeps the same.

How Do I Help My Baby Sleep?

One of the first things you have the opportunity to teach your baby is how to sleep. 

Here are some tried and true tips to help your baby settle down:

Learn your baby’s sleep signs

Does he pull on his ears? Is she rubbing her eyes? Yawning or even hiccupping? These can be typical indicators that it is time for a nap. 

One of the earliest signs that your baby is ready for some shut eye is when they start to quiet down. They are still alert, but less interested in their surroundings and in you. 

Your newborn can only communicate with you through their cues, so the quicker you learn to recognize your baby’s signals, the quicker you can teach them it’s time to sleep!

Give them lots of chances to nap

In the first six to ten weeks, your baby won’t be able to stay awake for longer than one to three hours. They are learning everything for the first time and it’s exhausting! 

Don’t wait to put your baby down for a nap—give them lots of chances to sleep. If you push them, they could become overtired and have even more trouble falling asleep.

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.

Those first few signs of sleep are when you need to take action. Put your baby in their crib when they are just starting to get sleepy. This helps you avoid a fussy baby, and it is a great way to teach them about good sleep habits too.

Teach them the difference between night and day

As adults, we often identify as either a “night owl” or an “early bird”, and babies are no different when it comes to sleep. You might have even noticed this during pregnancy!

You may not be able to do much about this in the first couple weeks, but at about two weeks old, you can start teaching them the difference between night and day.

During the day, interact with your baby as much as you can while they are alert and at peak energy levels. Don’t worry about daytime noises like the washing machine or conversations. Keep your house bright and cheery, and keep baby active and engaged during feedings.

Keep night time calmer. Interact with your baby more softly and limit play. Keep noise to a minimum and the lights low. Reinforce the same cues that your body uses to start the transition to bedtime.

Start a bedtime routine

Children thrive on routine, and newborns are no different. Do things in a predictable order that works for your family.

You could start with a bath and change them into their sleeper. Nurse or feed them. Read a story or sing a familiar song.

Whatever you choose, make it a routine that you can follow easily. It not only helps your baby get into a regular sleep routine, but it helps you too!

Get a good quality mattress

Crib Mattress
Purchase the Perfect Crib Mattress Here >

Just like you, babies need to be comfortable to get a good sleep and feel rested when they wake.

Not all crib mattresses are equal. Mattresses should be firm (to keep them safe and support growing bones) and rated for infants. It should also fit snugly against the frame. You shouldn’t be able to fit more than two fingers between the frame and the mattress.

Avoid second-hand mattresses. They can expose your baby to dangers that are associated with mold, bacteria, and damage.

A new crib mattress for your baby is an affordable investment for your peace of mind, and will help your baby get a good rest!

How Do I Get More Sleep?

Being a new parent is tough. No matter how much advice your friends and family (and random strangers you’ve met along the way) have given you, as new parents, we are never really fully prepared for the lack of sleep that comes with the job.

Between the frequent feedings and irregular newborn sleep patterns, your newest little one is not going to make this easy for you. 

Sleep deprivation can make it harder to parent. It’s also dangerous. Driving drowsy is a leading cause of car accidents for new parents. Drowsiness is also a leading cause of accidents at home—from falling down stairs to leaving a pot on the stove for too long, sleep deprivation isn’t something you should push through. It can also increase the likelihood of new mothers developing postpartum depression and other mood disorders.

But there’s no need to worry. Here are 4 tips from leading sleep experts to help you stay safe and catch more Zs:

Give yourself permission

One of the best things you can do is to give yourself permission to sleep. The laundry can wait. So can the dishes.

Let go of any guilt that you might have about what you should be doing. As a new parent, no one is judging you on your ability to do everything all at once.

Say yes to help

Some parents of newborns are resistant to accepting help. New parents can often feel that they have to prove they can do it on their own. They may be hesitant to take a moment away from their baby—every second seems so precious! 

Don’t feel guilty—as parents we learn how valuable this help is, and are happy to reciprocate when we can.

Sleep when baby sleeps

This tidbit of advice was given to our great-grandmothers, and it is still true today. If your baby takes a nap, put everything down and take the opportunity to lay down too. 

Even if you can’t fall asleep, your mind and body will still benefit from the rest. If you are already overtired and worried about not waking up, ask a partner, friend, family member, or neighbour to come over or join a video call to watch for when your baby wakes up.

Invest in your sleep

When we become parents, suddenly spending money on ourselves becomes a lot harder. This is one item that you need to push that guilt aside.

Thankfully there are affordable mattresses options on the market today that won’t make you compromise on quality.

You cannot get a good night’s sleep on a bad mattress. This has a compounding effect that can spill into every aspect of your life. A good mattress that suits your preferences and body type can help you function better, for longer, allowing you take better care of your family.

Crib Mattress
Purchase the Perfect Crib Mattress Here >

You cannot get a good night’s sleep on a bad mattress. This has a compounding effect that can spill into every aspect of your life. A good mattress that suits your preferences and body type can help you function better, for longer, allowing you take better care of your family. 

What every new parent should consider when buying a new mattress:

  1. Space - your little ones will eventually want to snuggle in bed with you. Make sure you think ahead!
  2. Quality - know who you are buying from. Reputable mattress dealers have nothing to hide, and will work their very hardest to help you find your perfect match. 
  3. Test it out - make sure that you can test out your mattress before committing. Choose a company that stands behind their products enough to let you try them.

While sleep doesn’t come easy to newborns or new parents, setting a regular bedtime routine, avoiding being overtired (your baby or you), and having the proper mattress can go a long way to sleeping better!

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