Wendy Dean's sleep tips
Published 24/03/2011 | 13:35
For the first few months your newborn will be sleeping around 16 hours a day and wake around every three hours when she is hungry.
Research shows that getting babies into a good routine right from these early days encourages better sleeping habits and may help her learn to sleep through the night sooner.
Winding down: Start the winding-down process with some special baby time with mummy or daddy, either with a bath for baby or gentle stroking massage before giving your baby the final feed of the day.
Wendy’s top tip: Buy a baby bath support and bath thermometer so you can feel reassured you have the water at the right heat and you’re supporting baby.
Baby massage: If you don’t have any baby massage classes near you, you can still do a basic massage at home. Some massage techniques shouldn’t be used until after your newborn has had the eight-week check-up, but a simple stroking massage is safe. It is best to massage baby at night before the fi nal feed, so they’re not too full up or sleepy. Check the room is warm enough; dim the lights and perhaps put some soothing music on. Use special baby oil and very soft, circular, clockwise motions on your baby’s legs and arms.
Wendy’s top tip: Encourage daddy to get involved in bath and massage time too. Many dads are unsure about what to do at first or about being gentle enough so perhaps bath and massage baby together at fi rst so you both feel confident handling your little one. For a newborn, massage is primarily about skin-to-skin touch to help you and your baby bond rather than a complicated technique.
Final feed: Once in her baby-gro, give your baby her final feed of the day, perhaps in your bedroom or in the nursery with soft lighting and soothing music playing. This will help relax her so she goes to bed happy and with a full tummy, and hopefully sleeps for as long as possible before waking up again because she’s hungry or any other reason.
Wendy’s top tip: During your baby’s last feed before putting her down to sleep, try splitting her feed in half and changing her nappy in the interval. While the motion of changing her nappy will pep her up a bit so she’s not fully asleep before you put her down, the second half of the feed will soothe her again if the movement of changing her nappy has unsettled her a bit. Plus this will ensure that she has a fresh nappy to sleep in.
Try and put your baby in her cot while she is sleepy but still awake so she learns to nod off on her own.
Time for bed: After her final feed, put your baby down in her cot before she is completely asleep, so she learns to fall asleep on her own. This will help her learn how to soothe herself back to sleep if she wakes in the night for any other reason than because she is hungry.
Wendy’s top tip: While it is often more easily said than done, when your baby wakes in the night, try not to rush in straight away. Leave her for a little while to see if she settles herself. If she is waking for her feed, once she is full, place her back in her cot, comfort her with gentle head stroking, but try and leave the room before she has completely fallen back to sleep.
Day and night: As with everything about the world around her, your little one needs to learn the difference between day and night, as this will help her understand when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to play. Taking baby out during the day, whether it’s a trip to a local coffee shop with other mums or a stroll to the park, will help your baby understand the difference between the two.
Wendy’s top tip: For babies born in the summer, blackout curtains are great. Many babies are able to sleep whatever time of day, but for babies who fi nd it diffi cult to nod off, eliminating light gives mum one less thing to worry about.
While asleep your baby is replaying everything that she has experienced that day.
The soothe & pat: Sleep is extremely important for early brain development; learning about the world and physical development. As your baby moves between different sleep cycles (called REM and non-REM sleep), she can stir and wake. However, she needs to learn to self settle from one cycle to the next, to ensure she gets enough sleep; so when she wakes in the night, try not to rush in straight away in case she is just stirring as she moves between sleep cycles. If not, pat her gently while saying comforting words to her. Each time you feed her, try and put her back in her cot and leave the room before she has completely fallen back to sleep.
Wendy’s top tip: While it is one of the hardest things for a parent to do, if you leave her for a little – it doesn’t have to be long, just a minute or so – you may notice that she settles herself back to sleep. By setting up this routine now it will make it easier to keep it up as she gets older.
Using a super absorbent nappy will mean that when your baby wakes at night it is less likely to be because she is wet and uncomfortable.
Wendy’s top tip: There are enough reasons why your newborn can wake up during the night, and so you don’t want a wet nappy to be one of them! This will mean you can focus your energy on soothing or feeding her before leaving her to fall back to sleep.
Pampers has created four new age-related bedtime routines, called the Pampers Soothology routines with its sleep expert Wendy Dean. See www.pampers.co.uk for more details. Pampers has also launched the new Pampers Baby-Dry nappy which features extra absorbent zones. They help keep your baby dry and comfortable for up to 12 hours, so you know that if your baby wakes it isn’t because of a wet nappy.