It can be difficult to know when it’s the right time to put your baby down for a nap. Early tired signs are often easily missed meaning they are already over tired by the time they go to bed.
With a young baby 0-12 weeks tired signs are more difficult to pick up on than older babies (over 4 months). In the early days it is often easier to go by age appropriate awake times as well as checking for tired signs to ensure your get your baby settled and down for a nap prior to them becoming overtired.
If your baby falls asleep frequently when feeding it can be a good idea to have a break half way through for a nappy change and burp and try again. It is common for young babies to fall asleep at the breast before they have finished a feed meaning they will often wake up soon after going down for a nap due to hunger. Another good idea is to take a couple of layers off if you’re trying to encourage them to wake to finish their feed.
When your baby is born they have a nice dose of maternal Melatonin (also referred to as the sleep hormone) on board passed on to them while in the womb. Maternal melatonin allows most babies to settle easily and stay asleep whenever and wherever often without swaddling. This starts to deplete around 3 weeks of age and then there is a gap of about 3-4 weeks before your newborn will start to produce their own at around 7 weeks.
For the first 2-3 weeks sleeping your baby in natural light is fine and is actually encouraged as it helps with jaundice and the breakdown of billirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow substance which is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells; it causes a baby’s skin and sometimes the whites of the eyes to turn yellow while the body is still getting rid of the excess. It is common for newborns to have jaundice and it usually resolves by itself in the first 1-2 weeks. However, if you are at all concerned it’s best to get your baby checked by a health professional.
After 3 weeks it is beneficial for your newborn to start having some of her sleeps in a dark sleep space to help achieve better sleep. If out and about you can get some blackout covers for your pram and capsule which helps also with the heat. If at home I suggest having blackout roller blinds and curtains drawn over the top or you can purchase travel blackout blinds which attach to your window with suction cups. I the first 3 months babies will often fall asleep wherever so motion sleeps are fine but it’s always good to keep at the back of your mind that when they hit 4 months they will start needing some motionless sleeps say in a cot or bassinette, so having your newborn swaddled and having some naps in their cot or bassinette should set you up with healthy sleep patterns for the future.
At this young age keeping your newborn up for the age appropriate awake times can make all the difference and help restore sleep and sanity to all involved. If you want to know more about age appropriate awake times then either get in touch or check out my blog on “tired signs in the first 12 weeks”.
Don’t worry about having to teach your newborn the difference between days and night they learn this relatively quickly by themselves.
If you want any further information please get in touch to organise a free 15 min consultation 021 741 781 or checkout my guide to surviving the first 12 weeks of parenthood on the All Things Baby website.