Today Lorna from Orchard Green Parenting is back with part 2 of her newborn routine.
When you have a newborn baby you will have your own priorities, perhaps breastfeeding is the most important thing to you, or sleep, or something else. Listening to the many and varied advice out there can give the impression that you have to pick just one thing, but it is possible to have a baby who breast feeds and also sleeps well. You might want to have a look at part one for some tips for the very first days, today we are looking at what to do after your milk comes in and your baby starts being a little more awake, perhaps around day three or four onwards.
It is important to realise that with such a young baby your goal is not to have them sleeping through the night. At first you are just aiming to have them settle in their bed with minimal help from you and sleep well until they next need a feed, with any longer stretches of sleep happening at night. With that in place most babies will naturally sleep for longer as and when they are ready, at a different age for each child.
- Establish two set points to your day – morning and bedtime. 7am and 7pm work well for many families but 6-6 or 8-8 can be good too. The important thing is to be consistent.
- During “night” keep the lights dim, avoid too much noise or chatter and generally try to get your baby fed and back to sleep as quickly as possible. Don’t wake them for feeds or have any playtime after feeds, the aim is to sleep as much as possible. You can even leave the baby swaddled while they feed.
- During the day throw open the curtains, bring baby into the living room, and chat away to him with lots of eye contact and smiles. You want there to be an obvious difference, as different as, well, night and day!
- During the day feed your baby every three hours, even if that means waking her up. If she is hungry sooner then do feed her but make sure she really is hungry and not looking for something else. If your baby doesn’t feed enthusiastically at 3 hours you might consider stretching to four hourly feeds, but three hourly suits most newborns.
- Now that your baby has woken up a bit and doesn’t need to sleep all the time try to keep them up for a short play after each feed. This breaks any association between feeding and sleeping.
- Look out for the subtle sleep cues, turning away from stimulation, staring into space or that first yawn. It might be just an hour or so after waking, so keep an eye out and don’t let your little one get too tired. When you spot those cues swaddle your baby and put them in their cot or Moses basket, in a quietish room with the curtains closed. If your baby needs some reassurance pat their tummy or rub their head gently but don’t pick them up unless they are upset. If they are content to lie in bed without you, leave them to it!
Before you know it you should be able to pop your little one in bed and leave them to settle to sleep without too much trouble, where they will sleep peacefully until they are ready for the next feed. At feed times they will nurse enthusiastically before staying awake for a play. Feeds will be timed differently for each baby but there should be more of them during the day than there are at night and you should be able to predict a rough pattern that is your baby’s normal routine.