A baby who sleeps well in the day will generally sleep better at night, feed well and be more settled than an over-tired baby.
If your baby wakes up grizzling or crying after 20 or 45 minutes, it is likely she is crying from tiredness rather than hunger. Ideally, you should try to resettle her for another sleep cycle and then feed her when she next wakes. Easier said than done? We recommend you try the settling and resettling methods below (and don’t give up after the first few tries) and avoid falling into the exhausting traps of feeding or rocking to sleep.
- Firm wrapping or swaddling is by far the most effective way to increase the length of day sleeps for newborn babies. Newborn babies have such a strong startle reflex (‘Moro reflex’) that when unwrapped they are very likely to startle themselves awake after one sleep cycle. By firmly wrapping your baby and keeping their arms inside the wrap, your baby is more likely to remain relaxed and resettle. Remember, they are used to being firmly packaged in the womb, warm and snug, with little room to move.
- Along with swaddling, we believe that white noise is one of the most effective ways to help newborns sleep longer and resettle during the day. White noise is similar to the swooshing, heartbeat and gurgling noises your baby heard inside your womb for 9 months – it’s louder than a vacuum cleaner in there! A white noise CD is the most handy way of providing this constant noise. Play it at the start of the sleep cycle and put it on repeat throughout the sleeptime. If your baby is crying initially, play it loud enough to get her attention, and then you can turn it down lower once she’s settled. Alternatively, radio static, a vacuum cleaner or a dehumidifier also work well.
- Wake to sleep – reset the sleep cycle with a gentle prod! Here’s a trick that may just be what you need. Go into your baby about five minutes before she usually wakes up from her nap. Gently prod her, enough that she stirs or moves slightly, but not enough to fully wake her. At that point your baby should fall back into a deep sleep, and sleep through the waking that was about
- However, as your baby gets closer to 4-months-old, ensure that you work on weaning your baby off needing this (or any) type of intervention to get back to sleep. If you always rush in as soon as she makes a little noise, over time she learns she needs you to help her back to sleep, and she never gets the chance to practice going back to sleep by herself. Many babies grizzle or cry for a few minutes as they stir, wake and resettle back to sleep. This is quite normal and doesn’t mean your baby is upset, hungry or ready to get up.
Information kindly provided by The Sleep Store. For more info, visit: www.thesleepstore.co.nz