The best advice I can give in regards to sleep in the first month is “Try to sleep when your baby sleeps”. In the first month sleep is probably the one thing that you will crave most but sadly will not get much of especially long uninterrupted sleeps. The silver lining is that it does get better so just hang in there!
During the first few weeks you will notice that your baby tends to sleep most of the day and play during the night! Don’t be alarmed this is normal as they are not able to distinguish between day or night and are simply doing what they have been doing in our womb. That’s why if you are like me find your baby seems to be active and kicking in my stomach more during the night than in the day. For this reason the first month can be extremely difficult and if there is any offers for help during this month take it up. I was lucky and had mum help out for the whole first month! Not sure how I would have survived with her!
To help baby adjust to a day and night routine there are a few things we can do to speed up that adjustment so that eventually baby distinguishes that day is for play and night is for sleep! Which will help us get our sleep back on track as smoothly as possible.
Firstly, it is very important that we try to help our newborn distinguish between day and night as quickly as possible otherwise you will be pulling your hair out during the first month due to the lack of sleep but also the stress that comes with having little or no sleep. During the day have all curtains and blinds open even if baby is asleep it helps them to recognise day has light plus if you have a jaundice baby like I did, the UV light is good for the baby. Jaundice is quite common amongst Asian babies if left untreated can cause liver and kidney damage, but rest assured it is easily treated and most doctors usually pick it up during your hospital stay. Also, during the day give baby plenty of playtime such as tummy time, music time, and some TV for noise is good. Some activity lets baby know it is day even while it is asleep try to continue with what you are doing for some noise it helps baby to recognise its morning.
During the night try to keep the room dark and quiet, but if you are like me and feel uncomfortable having your newborn in complete darkness a soft night light or lamp is good. I also preferred to play some soft music when I put baby down to sleep at night but reading to it prior to bedtime is good too. Whatever you do try to stick to that routine it helps baby to recognise that this is night time now. If you find baby has trouble settling down try giving them a warm bath prior to bed time this helps to relax them and I find they settle quicker and sleep longer after a nice bath. My son still sleeps straight after his bath irrespective of what time he has his bath because he is so use to that routine from birth. If baby cries or stirs during the night try patting baby on the bottom gently while singing softly to them this helps to soothe them back to sleep. Avoid picking them up straight away if they cry at night unless they are screaming in pain. You will slowly recognise and distinguish between a cry for attention or a pain cry, call it a mothers instinct. So if you stick to a usual morning and night routine this will go a long way to helping baby sleep well not only during the day but also most importantly during the night.
The only other important thing to help baby sleep better is providing a safe and secure environment for your baby. Having a proper cot to put baby in will make it a lot easier to settle baby and keep them asleep longer. Check out my post on choosing a cot if you need help or are confused as I know there are so many different ones available. Avoid putting excessive heavy blankets on your baby as overheating them can cause stress and disturb their sleep. Instead of thick blankets if baby is born in winter put baby in a baby sleeping bag my recommendation is the Grobag which is what I used for my son and absolutely love it as it was very easy to put him in. You can check their website here at www.gro.co.uk However, my friend has also recommended the Ergo Pouch which she used and said that her daughter never got too hot in it. Their website is www.ergopouch.com.au. For the first couple of weeks swaddle baby before putting them to sleep. Swaddling helps soothe and comfort them while they are asleep. Swaddling baby while sleeping instead of putting blankets on baby helps to reduce SIDS as advised by my maternity nurses. I love the Aden and Anais range of swaddles, yes the same ones used by the Duchess of Cambridge for her little boy. The Aden and Anais swaddles I find are more light and breathable compared to the flannette ones the hospitals supply. They also show you how to properly swaddle your baby on the website www.adenandanais.com.au. I love their range of baby products and take forever browsing their website. Try to keep baby’s cot as clear and minimal as possible. No pillows, teddy bears, dolls or cot bumpers should be put on baby’s cot in the first month to help reduce the incident of SIDS. Lastly, I know in many Asian cultures we were told to put baby on its tummy or side to sleep as putting it on its back will give baby a flat head (does this sound familiar?) But currently based on recent medical research putting baby to sleep on it’s back is the best way to reduce SIDS. So this is my recommendation and both my boys slept on their backs and I can guarantee both have round heads not flat ones!