The first six months of your baby’s life can be very overwhelming. Everything is brand new, each day comes with a different challenge and figuring out all of your baby’s different needs can be really hard.
For some new parents, one of the toughest challenges is sleep or should I say, the lack-of. It is important to recognise that every baby is different, especially when it comes to how often and how long they sleep for.
The majority of new parents will be sleep deprived at the beginning, some for longer than others but it won’t be forever and you will eventually remember what it is like to have a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Until that blissful morning arrives when you realise your baby and you slept through the night, here are six sleep tips for the first six months that may help take the edge off.
1. Avoid stimulation before sleep times.
Before your baby’s nap you could try and create a calm and soothing atmosphere and the same before bed-time. Amusing your baby or taking your baby out of the house just before they are due a nap or before bedtime, could overstimulate them. You may want to try creating a calm, dark and noise-free atmosphere to help your baby wind down.
2. Take note of the environment.
Consider any strong smells, the temperature of the room and what your baby is wearing. If your baby is too hot or too cold, she could be uncomfortable which may be affecting her sleep. If your baby has sensitive skin, her pjs could be irritating her, which again, could be affecting her sleep. Be sure to have a room thermometer so you can check the temperature of the room your baby sleeps in. It should be somewhere between 16-20 degrees.
3. Try the motion trick.
You could try rocking your baby or walking around with her. If this doesn’t work you may want to try taking her out in the pram or out in the car to help her get to sleep. The motion will usually help your baby drift off and can be a great technique especially to help your baby nap during the daytime.
4. Know it’s completely fine if they wake frequently in the night.
It is normal for parents to be up 2-3 times or sometimes even more times during the night for the first 6 months. Your baby will get hungry, she may need changing or could be to hot or cold which may cause her to wake up. By the time your baby is 6 months, she might be capable of sleeping through the night.
If you’re at this stage, read how you can get your baby to sleep through the night.
5. Keeping your baby close.
A Harvard study found that by sharing a room with your baby may help prevent SIDS. Although the study did find that babies who slept in their own room before 4 months, slept longer than babies who slept in their parents’ room, it should not go unnoticed that the study also found that waking up easily and more frequently can be critical in preventing SIDS and that over time, most babies learn to sleep through the night anyway.
If the only place your baby will sleep is on you, sometimes you just have to go for it. Of course be aware of the risks of this, as well as the risks of co-sleeping but, but being a parent has a lot to do with your gut instincts and what works for you and your baby.
6. Remember you know what’s best for your baby.
Lots of people will be very quick to voice their opinions but it is important to remember that you know what is best for your baby. You understand their needs so try not to worry too much about what other people are saying about their sleeping patterns and concentrate on what you think is best. Seek advice from your midwife and/or health visitor if you think you can benefit from some professional support.