Rest easy! Hard though it is to believe, your new baby’s sleeping patterns are normal
New baby’s sleeping patterns?! Exhausted parents with newborns can often be exposed to a lot of confusion and misinformation around what’s “normal” when it comes to your new baby’s sleeping patterns. There’s an unnecessary focus on getting babies to sleep through the night, as if this is the single most important parenting milestone. Of course, sleep deprivation is challenging (and exhausting), but babies are complex creatures with important needs above and beyond sleep training. Here are a few pointers to help you get through those first few months.
Newborns don’t need to “learn” to sleep
Sleep isn’t something that needs to be “taught” – babies in utero do it completely unaided. Why would they suddenly lose that ability? The reality is, new babies are much too young to learn to self-settle, so if yours needs a hand winding down into a sleepy mood, try offering them an extra feed or comforting them to help set off their snoozing instinct.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
If you have to get out of bed to comfort your baby several times a night, or they’re only able to sleep while being held, don’t stress. This is all normal and actually a big part of their development. Don’t let yourself feel any pressure to rush your new baby’s sleeping patterns towards longer sleeps or self-settling. Just give comfort, feeds, or warmth whenever necessary, and take it at your and your baby’s own pace.
Yes, a necessary part of their development
Human survival instincts are fascinating. And that’s exactly what’s playing out when your baby wakes up several times a night. Their instinct is to seek physical contact and to feed. Compared to an adult, a baby’s stomach is tiny and can only fit a small amount in before they’re full. But that means, to stay alive and grow, they need to eat frequently. Of course, there’ll always be one person you know whose baby slept through the night really early on, but look at it this way: Someone has to be first, and it’s just random luck who that ends up being!
Sleeping is only part of the pie, but it will get better
Brand-new babies have many more complex needs than just sleep, and some of those needs might require for them to wake several times during the night. During those first few months, your baby will need food, physical contact, and warmth around the clock, and sleep deprivation will be a challenge. But, with time, you will start to notice that the blocks of time they’re sleeping start to get bigger. If that’s not the case and things only get worse, have a chat with your GP to check there isn’t something medical going on. You can also check in with Plunket or your midwife for further sleep advice. Call Plunketline on 0800 933 922 for advice, or talk to your Plunket nurse.