Sleeping safely with your baby
When your baby arrives, their sleep can quickly become a big focus. If your baby isn’t sleeping well (and at points they won’t), you can’t sleep either, and caring for a baby when you’re exhausted is one of the toughest parts of parenting.
If your baby won’t settle, the first thing to remember is that lack of sleep isn’t forever. However ‘easy’ your baby is to get to sleep, they still need to wake regularly in the early weeks or months to feed. They have tiny tummies and feeding regularly helps them hydrate, grow and thrive, so they’re not doing anything wrong by waking and it won’t always be this way.
When your baby won’t settle in their crib
Babies often need more than being fed, winded and changed to settle back to sleep at night. Ideally, your baby will happily sleep in a moses basket or crib in the same room as you, but if they struggle to settle you may wish to consider other options.
What is co-sleeping and is it safe?
Co-sleeping is when you choose to bring your baby into bed to sleep with you for part or all of the night. Many parents worry about this being unsafe, which is understandable. Co-sleeping is ultimately a personal choice, and if it is something you are considering, it is far better to plan it safely rather than risk falling asleep holding your baby because you are extremely tired and haven’t taken the necessary steps to do it safely.
The Lullaby Trust has helpful advice and videos on safe co-sleeping with your baby, which we’d recommend reading fully. Below is a summary of safe co-sleeping guidance that is really important to follow, to reduce risk of danger to your baby.
Safe co-sleeping safety guidelines
- Ensure there is no loose bedding near your baby and no duvets on the bed. Using a baby sleeping bag can be a good solution if your little one needs an extra layer.
- Lie your baby on a flat mattress without a pillow.
- Make sure your baby can’t fall out of the bed, even very young babies may be able to roll.
- Don’t allow pets or other children in your bed at the same time.
Never co-sleep if you or your partner smoke, have drunk alcohol, your baby is premature or if she weighs less than 5 ½ lbs.
It’s also very important to never sleep with your baby in a chair or on a sofa, as this can increase the likelihood of SIDS by 50 times.
Other ways to help your baby settle at night
Many babies crave close human contact. After all, they’ve been connected to one for 9 months! It’s understandable, that to sleep, many babies want the security of a parent’s touch as they navigate this brand new world.
Next To Me cribs
Some cribs can be attached to your bed, with a feature that allows the side to be pulled down. These Next To Me cribs or cots mean you are all but co-sleeping with your little one, but can relax knowing you’re doing so safely. Next To Me cribs can also help support easy breastfeeding but, however you feed your baby, they let you easily comfort your little one throughout the night -- soothing them with your hand and lying right next to them.
Coping with night wakings from your baby
While multiple night wakings from your baby are perfectly normal and natural, it doesn’t mean they’re not tough to deal with. When your baby won’t settle at night, try to rest as much as you can at other times,so you can better manage those sleepless twilight sessions.
How to ease tiredness in the newborn baby days
- Go to bed early, leaving your baby downstairs with your partner if possible so you can get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep before the night shift starts.
- Similarly, talk with your partner about them taking charge earlier in the morning so you can get another sleep stretch in before they go to work.
- Don’t over-fill your days with commitments so that if your baby does sleep in the day, you can take the opportunity to rest. Rest even if you can’t sleep and don’t try to be supermum. Housework, shopping and other stuff can wait.
- Remember baby sleep troubles aren’t forever, just for now.
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