It can be a huge shock when you come home with your newborn. A baby that has slept for the first few weeks has suddenly become unsettled, very unsettled. You then have that moment of realisation and say to yourself, “Hold on they didn’t give me a manual!”
So we go looking for advice. Picking up baby books and searching the internet. You join a few social media groups looking for support and information. There’s a lot out there and confusingly half of it seems to contradict the other half.
This scenario is a common one, a challenge for many if not most new parents. For over twenty-five years, I have been helping parents and one thing that is clear is that it can be very difficult to ask for help. You don’t want to be judged on your parenting abilities but you need help. So where to from here?
Let’s consider a baby under three months. First off, a baby under three months will not have an established routine, it just doesn’t happen. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work toward understanding the infants sleep cycle.
A good way to consider sleep cycles is to look at the entire feed/play/sleep scenario. A baby should be up no longer than one hour. In that hour, we would be feeding, interacting and looking for the cues your baby gives you. Things like grizzling, jerky movement and clenched fists are all tired signs. This tells us it’s ‘bedtime’.
A baby has a 40-minute sleep cycle and with 2 to 3 sleep cycles per sleep. That means that every 40 minutes a baby will cycle out of a deeper sleep into a light sleep phase. This part of the cycle is when they tend to be restless. Often a baby will settle itself and cycle back to a deeper sleep but this does not always happen.
You might need to try some different settling techniques to find the one that works for you and your baby. It is equally important that you establish a good support network, whether it be with family and friends or a health professional.