I have now looked after three newborns in the space of two and a half years. Each time it has become easier and easier...even with the other toddlers in tow. For the first time mums out there I'm going to let you know the best newborn baby tip. I'll let you into a little secret that I am sure other mums can also attest to:
The newborn baby tip you need to know
When it comes to looking after a newborn baby: Sometimes less is more
With my first I was an absolute rookie, I hadn't had any exposure to newborn babies. I had done no reading up on little babies, I went into it blind. I loved my little man but honestly I had no real clue how to look after him... I knew he needed to be fed, I knew I needed to keep his bum clean and dry. So I had the eating and pooping part covered, but..
There are three things newborn babies do/need
I had completely missed the memo re the sleeping side of things. I just assumed bub would sleep when he needed to. Or at least let me know when he was tired.
Me and my little man would lie on the mat, we would listen to music, I might read him a book, we would just stare at each other. He seemed fine. One hour would pass, two hours would pass. He would want some more milk. I would happily oblige. He would poo I would change his nappy. Then the fun would start he would go from happy happy joy joy to inconsolable mess... then I would become an inconsolable mess. I would then run through a list of things that might be upsetting him and try to rectify them.
- Possibly hungry- Feed him again
- Possibly windy- Burp him again, and again and again
- Possible wet nappy- Change him again
- Too hot- remove layers
- Too cold- add layers
Bub would now have been up for another hour, and still be upset and still not sleeping.
I had no idea what I had done wrong. Then I did some reading...
Little babies really only need to be up for 45 minutes to an hour max. I was dumbstruck I had no idea. For my first, a breastfeeding session took around 30-40 minutes... which meant after a breastfeed and a nappy change he should be going back to bed.... could this be right? Yep absolutely.
How to get a newborn baby to sleep more
The hardest baby to get to sleep is an overtired baby.
I now know, and completely believe the following. When it comes to looking after a newborn: Less equals more.
Less awake time equals more sleep
Newborn babies don't need to be up for extended periods of time. Most need to be back in bed or somewhere safe to sleep within 45-60 minutes, or earlier if they show tired signs. If your baby has not shown tired signs after an hour... it's probably because you missed them. Put your baby back to bed.
Less stimulation equals more sleep
Save the book reading, cloud gazing, and baby entertainment etc for a few weeks down the track. Little munchkins are more than happy with a brief chat, a goo and gah whilst you do their nappy change. Or a sit up on your knee for a few smiles whilst they poo. Or even a snuggle into your chest while you chat to a friend.. simply hearing your voice is probably enough.
Less outings and less 'pass the baby parcel' also equals more sleep. That's not to say you can't get out and about with your newborn but just be mindful of how much stimulation they are getting. Pop them back into their pram, snuggle them into a carrier, or cuddle them if they have been up long enough and it is time for them to sleep. Don't let well minded people pass your new baby from person to person for extended periods of time. They aren't the ones left trying to resettle an over tired baby,
Less fuss equals more sleep
When it is time for your baby to go to sleep be confident. Be confident they have had enough milk. Be confident their nappy is clean and dry, be confident they are burped/winded. Fussing around and rechecking everything before you put them down just means they are up for longer.. and are more likely to become difficult to settle.
Give your munchkin a chance to go to sleep.. a grizzle here a grizzle there does not mean bub doesn't want to go to sleep. Take a pause and just see what happens. Maybe they will just go to sleep. If they do get upset then by all means step in and help them get off to sleep with bum pats, cuddles, what ever your settling method is. But first just pause and see what happens. You never know maybe you'll get lucky and bub will just fall asleep. Honestly sometimes they do.
And if they don't get off to sleep with or with out help from you, then start the fussing and checking...but give it a chance first.
More sleep equals more sleep
For little munchkins sleep begets sleep. Little babies will not sleep for longer at night because they are awake for more of the day. Yes, at some point day sleeps can interfere with night sleeps but I promise you, this is not something you need to worry about in the first few weeks of your baby's life.
So there you are my secret for a happy contented baby. Less equals more. Or at least this mantra has worked for me.
Please note my experiences and comments are based on 3 healthy babies who always had full tummies. I have been very lucky and have not had supply issues. I know some mums don't have such an easy road and struggle with supply and or medical issues like reflux. So I am not saying that my simple mantra will necessarily work for all munchkins, I am just pointing out to those who are struggling to get baby to sleep...maybe try doing less rather than doing more
Good luck to all those looking after newborns. Enjoy the snuggles and the little toes!