Newborn sleep & sleep patterns...
First things first, when you get home from the hospital, give your little one plenty of opportunity to sleep in their own sleep space. It’s very appealing to have them sleep on your chest all the time, and I do believe that there is an element to a 4th trimester, but try and save the skin on skin to when they are really unsettled in those early days.
It is important for them to start to understand that sleeping in their safe sleep space is the normal environment. You want them to feel comfortable going down, swaddled on their back, and for this to be a space that they are put down in from when they first get home from the hospital and not some foreign space that you put them down sometimes.
Essentially, if it cannot be maintained throughout childhood, try not to introduce it when your little one is a newborn! So, offering their sleep in a swing/bouncer/chest/pram/rocker as opposed to their bassinet will quickly become a sleep association. Your little one will get used to this position and won't like it when you suddenly expect them to sleep on their back in their bassinet.
So, from when you bring them home, try and make it as normal as possible and place them for their periods of sleep in their bassinet, swaddled. If you find they are having difficulty settling, you can try and use a shush pat method to help them to soothe. If you are still struggling, you could aim for at least one of their naps to be in their safe sleep space, and the others you could use your chest. I don’t recommend the use of a swing or bouncer for them to sleep in due to the risk of SIDS if they fall into the side of the swing and suffocate.
I want you to also try and focus on really good feeds, often what happens is that newborns get into the habit of snack feeding and snack sleeping. By about 2 to weeks when you have managed to establish your supply I would move to ensure that your little one is staying aware and having a proper feed, then focus on good periods of sleep.
Don’t ever discount the importance of sleep when it comes to the little ones’ tummy’s digestion and feeding and effective feeding and weight gain. Make sure your little ones are getting enough exposure to natural light in their awake periods. So, for feeds try and do these out in the lounge room, then make sure their feeds overnight are taking place in a dark room, with white noise playing.
From 6 weeks you could start to establish a good 12-hour cycle by gently phasing their wake-up time earlier and their bedtime earlier, until you are able to reach a 7-7am overnight period. Obviously still with 2-3 feeds. This resets their biological clock every morning and enables them to have the opportunity to go have that first nap in the morning.
Also, be mindful that for every cry you don’t need to rush in and pick them up, allow them the space and benefit of the doubt to see if they are able to settle themselves. Often it is just them grunting or practicing using their mouth.
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