How to wrap your baby
Many newborns enjoy the security of being wrapped to sleep which also minimises them startling in sleep which can disturb them. It is important for you and your baby communicate with each to make sure baby’s tummy stays happy. Avoid tightly wrapping your baby as it restricts your baby’s arm and leg movements as well as their ability to move their hand to mouth. Instead, wrap your baby in a light muslin wrap to avoid missing any hunger cues.
Settling your baby
Patting or rocking your baby in their cot or crib may help them settle and drift into sleep. Some mothers will cradle or rock their baby until they are sleepy then put them into their bed using patting or rocking to complete the cycle. Many babies enjoy some background noise as life in-utero is quite noisy.
Soft music or commercial white noise soundtracks can be helpful. For the stubborn little settler, using a warm bath and gentle massage before sleep may help them relax enough to let sleep take over. It’s important to be aware of when to massage your baby, aiming for a window of opportunity when they are alert but calm, rather than exhibiting any tired signs.
Sleeping your baby
Babies, like us have sleep rhythms made up of active and quiet sleep cycles. Active sleep is a sleep phase which involves head and muscle movements, similar to rapid eye movement (REM) in adults. Quiet sleep is a sleep stage in which the muscles are relaxed. Limbs are still, and breathing is deep and regular. Babies cycle in and out of quiet sleep, and are less likely to wake during this stage.
In the early months of life, baby sleep tends to be 50 per cent active sleep and 50 per cent quiet sleep, often waking after phases of active sleep.
At around three months, the amount of active sleep decreases. Babies also begin to enter quiet sleep at the beginning of their sleep cycles. At this age, the sleep cycle for babies consists of alternating active and quiet sleep periods of 20 to 50 minutes each (compared with 90-minute sleep cycles for adults).
By six months, a baby’s sleep patterns are closer to those of a grown-up – which means less waking at night.
By eight months, 60 to 70 per cent of babies are able to self-soothe themselves back to sleep without a parent’s help. Others will continue to wake if they need help to settle back to sleep, or if their parents are continuing to feed them through the night.
Most new parents claim they’ve forgotten what it feels like to have an uninterrupted sleep during the first few months after birth. There are so many questions new parents have about when their babies should be sleeping, for how long and what to do if they just won’t go down! Here are some of those answers: