Sleep Baby Sleep
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Sleep for you and your baby is so important. Its good to remember how sleep deprivation can affect your wellbeing.
In my work as a maternity nurse, my daily 3 hour break was a god send and I felt a completely different person after this rest. This gave me such an insight into life as a new parent and the need for sleep.
If at any point you are struggling and feeling in the ‘sleep fog’ I would recommend accepting help from family/friends, sleeping in the day, or getting a night nanny for one or two nights per week – just to ease that fog.
If you are breastfeeding, the nanny will bring baby to you and then settle them back into bed, if you are bottle feeding then you can switch off and catch up!
For me, I really noticed the effects that lack of sleep had on my body – it triggered anxiety and I would always feel so much better after a nap.
Sleep is paramount and life can feel so different after a recharge.
There are a whole world of ‘sleep aids’ out there for new sleep deprived parents – the most important advice is from The Lullaby Trust, for the safest sleep advice.
Your baby should share your bedroom for the first six months – ideally next to you in a moses basket/chicco next to me or a snuzpod. Please see my Nursery section for further information on these products. Click Here.
Sleep ‘props’ such as dummies and white noise can be really beneficial in the early weeks – I have always loved;
They mimic the noises of the womb and can really help settle.
Some also have bluetooth options and cry sensors to come on when baby starts to be unsettled. The latest models are also washable which is a great new feature! I prefer not to use anything with bluetooth with babies.
If you are out and baby needs some extra help getting back to sleep, having an app on your phone for white noise can really help settle them. I always make sure the phone is on airplane mode if you are putting it near baby.
My favourites are;
Ewan the Dreamsheep
Swaddling can also really help little ones with a strong moro reflex (when their arms go out involuntarily and wakes them up. Just always make sure you leave their hips free to move into the froggy position for healthy hip development.
I would invest in some swaddle muslins from Aden & Anais, these have so many uses, from a cover up for breastfeeding to a mat for baby to lie on.
Aden & Anais Swaddle Muslin
Just to note some babies also really do not like being swaddled! If you buy the big muslins and your little one doesn’t like to be swaddled then they will still be one of the best things you bought!
An alternative can be;
Gro Swaddle woodland friends
I like this one as they can still have their hands to their mouth which can provide comfort and is also a feeding cue.
Always make sure their clothing is adjusted depending on the temperature of the room as babies can easily overheat but will usually let you know if they are too cold. They can’t tell you that they are too hot.
Which blankets are best to use for baby?
I LOVE the Abeille cellular blankets – See the Nursery section for further information. They are the safest blankets for newborns.
For safe sleep make sure they at the bottom of the cot and the blanket is tucked in.
When should you stop swaddling?
If your baby loves to be swaddled, I would recommend gently easing out of the swaddle before baby can roll over. Start with the daytime naps as it may take them a while to get used to being free! Start with the arms out one by one. I like these Gro Snug bags that can be a good transition to sleeping bags.
Gro Snug Sleeping Bag
The next transition is to go into a sleeping bag. There are lots of different options depending on fabric and tog thickness. After a LOT of research I have found the best ones out there to be by Little Earth Baby.
They do a beautiful bamboo sleeping bag that I am going to get for Nico.
They are amazing as they are for all temperatures between 13 and 27 degrees, and also can be from around 4 months to 2 years!
Its good to be mindful of what other thick sleeping bags are filled with, as polyester is not a great option.
Sleep supports such as the sleepyhead are becoming so popular now, they put baby in a different position to being flat on their back. The safest sleep advice from The Lullaby Trust is to put baby on a flat surface without any pillows/comforters or cot bumpers.
What about a Sleepyhead?
The Sleepyhead is a great product.
I personally haven’t recommended it for night time sleeping as I always follow safe sleep by The Lullaby Trust.
However, it can be a great place for day time sleeps and also tummy time. It is great for ‘supervised’ sleeping.
Red Castle Cocoonababy
I was introduced to this product when working in France a few years ago. It is a lovely support for little ones, putting them in a lovely position for sleep or play – especially good for reflux. The gentle pressure from the band around the tummy is almost like a hand on them which is great for settling.
I have worked for babies that have slept in the Cocoonababy all night – but this is again a personal preference. My choice is the same as the sleepyhead, its a great place for daytime naps but only when supervised.
Little ones seem to love the comfort and reassurance that the Cocoonababy gives, they can get very hot in it so make sure you adjust their clothing accordingly.
What about Co Sleeping with my baby?
Co Sleeping can be the best option for some families. I have never tried it in my work as a Maternity nurse as this wasn’t something that I would have felt comfortable with. As a first time mama, it was not something that worked for me as I felt much happier when Nico was sleeping by me in the moses basket. However in that fourth trimester it can be a game changer for getting sleep.
For the safest Co sleeping advice have a look at The Lullaby Trust for a safe sleep guide.
The most important factor in those early weeks is SLEEP – Naps really do save Lives!
Moving baby from your room to the the nursery
It is recommended by The Lullaby Trust that little one should share your bedroom for the first six months. To make this transition easier, I like to start doing daytime naps in the nursery. This can be in the moses basket in the cot, or straight into the cot depending on age.
Its also a good idea to have play time in their to get them used to their bedroom. Nico loves playtime in his cot watching his mobile and it means I can shower or make breakfast or a hot cup of tea!
You will need to get a monitor depending on the size of your house, I really like to have a video monitor so you can peep on little one. It is so lovely to see them singing to themselves and babble as they get older.
There are such a variety of options that its good to research and see which one suits your needs – this is the one that I chose for Nico;
BT Video Baby Monitor 6000 – We love it!
Baby Monitors Direct are a great site to look at for different options for your home. I personally prefer them without bluetooth as I don’t think its great to have anything bluetooth that close to baby.
What temperature should my bedroom/nursery be?
The ideal temperature for the nursery, or your bedroom as that is where baby will initially be sleeping is between 18 and 22 degrees. This is however not always achievable in summer months! If your house is hot, it is worth investing in a fan before the heatwave is here.
It can be good to have a room thermometer for the nursery, but if you have a monitor there is often a temperature option there.
For more information and support with helping baby get into an early rhythm, see my sleep baby sleep workshop/online video coming soon.
Also from as soon as you bring baby home, try and make daytime very different from night.
Lots of natural light in the day, and minimal light and noise/interaction at night.
This can be easier said than done when that little face is beaming at you at 3am!
I believe that an early rhythm/routine is important for you and your baby, when you are ready. It can be great to get baby used to having naps at home and also in their own bedroom to get used to this as a sleeping environment as they get older.
Lighting for your bedroom
As little one will be sharing your room for the first six months it is important to have the right lighting. Try not to use any bright light during the night to help adjust their body clock. Red/pink light is the most conducive to sleep, and also the light that babies get into the womb has a pinkish hue so the himalayan lamps are perfect in so many ways.
I love to use Himalayan Lamps for lovely gentle light, there is also thoughts to these lamps having health benefits too. I find them very calming. We have one in our room and also the nursery.
For the night feeds as a maternity nurse, I loved using the ‘Mee Light’ this is a very small button light that gives just enough light to see what you are doing. For breastfeeding you can actually use it to clip onto your bra. It has different levels that you can dim and make brighter. I now put it somewhere in the cot so there is a little glow at night.
Do you need black out blinds for your room and the nursery?
This again is personal preference and also some babies just need the extra support of the dark to get to sleep in later months when you are getting into a rhythm.
A great temporary solution is from the Gro company
Gro Anywhere Blackout Blind
I think it is important to get your little one used to sleeps in different places as this will make you so much more flexible in your every day life. Its great if they are able to take naps in their nursery, and also the pram when out and about. And of course on you.. enjoy those precious cuddles in the early weeks.
Sleeping when out and about
Daytime naps can be great out and about in the pram as this gives you flexibility to go out and meet friends/ go to classes and get on with everyday life.
The Snooze Shade is such a great product for this, it gives a safe, darkened environment and shades from the elements;
The lovely Cara who designed the product has really created a product a cut above, and also has shades available for the carseat and Travelcot which can be a god send when travelling!
Please be aware that there are fake products on the market, recently Lidl have just made a copy. These products are not safe and Snooze Shade is the only one to buy.
Baby Car Seat Sun/Blackout Cover
Universal Baby Sunshade
Plus Deluxe Sunshade and Baby Sleeping Aid
Breathable Blackout Cover Canopy for Cots and Travel Cots
A little tip – as little one gets older it is worth gently waking them when you put them down into their bed for sleep. This just helps make them aware of their sleeping environment and reassures them when they naturally wake in their sleep cycles.
This may feel like the LAST thing that you feel like doing after you have just got them down, but being aware of their sleep environment is a key part of self settling as they get older.