Let's Chat Newborn Sleep with Kristy!

It’s happening – we’re talking all things NEWBORN SLEEP after a much highly requested topic from every new parent and parent-to-be it’s always the question on their lips. How do I help a newborn sleep? Should I have a routine yet? Should they be in their room or mine? Help my newborn is catnapping! I know how it feels. You spend so much time preparing for birth first and for some you're in hospital for less than 24 hours before you return home and have to learn not only how to navigate your own post-birth challenges but add on a newborn and a whole lifestyle change and diving in this unknown can be overwhelming.

We thought we’d get word from the women herself Kristy from The Sleep Teacher to chat all things Newborn Sleep with some hot Q & A’s!

1. Are you all about winging it with a newborn or should they have a routine?
I am definitely not about routine when it comes to newborn sleep. Not in the sense of napping at set times anyway. Newborn babies are so unpredictable when it comes to sleep so it is hard to expect a consistent routine. The best type of routine you can follow when it comes to newborn sleep is to follow a feed, play, sleep routine, in line with their awake windows. This may mean inconsistent nap times each day, but it does mean that you know your little one will be up for a period of 60-90 mins (depending on their age) and this will ensure your little one doesn’t become overtired.
2. What would you say is a high priority when preparing a nursery for a newborn?
Setting up a nursery is so exciting, sure we want it to be cute, but we also want it to promote great sleep. My must haves for newborn sleep would have to be, white noise, a portable block out blind such as ergo or gro-anywhere blind, swaddles or swaddle suits such as SwaddleMe, a firm cot mattress that meets your countries standards, breathable fitted sheet and a red light for those overnight feeds and wind downs.
3. I’ve been told a dummy will become an issue later but is this something you recommend at times and why?
I think when it comes to newborn sleep, that a dummy may just become your best friend. You may never need it, but it's great to know it is there as an option at anytime. Dummies or pacifiers are amazing settling tools when it comes to newborns, the sucking helps to turn on their calming reflex and you know what, they have also been shown to reduce the risk of sids. If you have a reflux or colicky baby then a dummy will almost be imperative when it comes to newborn sleep and keeping your little one comfortable and calm. I don’t find dummies run havoc on newborn sleep as such, its when we get closer to 4 months. If they are reliant on it to fall asleep and this is all they know, then yes, you will probably start to notice your little one waking after one sleep cycle looking for the dummy to be replaced, this can start to drive you crazy fairly quickly. Which is why I recommend trying to always start with less and add more in as needed, don't use the dummy as your go-to each and every time, try to mix it up a little and get your little one used to settling other ways.
4. If a parent is feeling overwhelmed by their new responsibilities what would you suggest to help with this?
What new parent isn’t overwhelmed? Its such a big adjustment for both parents and baby, we are learning just as is our little one. I think its important to be mindful of this as sometimes we just expect that we should be doing all the things we were doing before, cooking, gym, cleaning etc, but in reality we have just birthed another human, we are sleep deprived and we are also caring around the clock for another little person. We need drop any expectations we had before, show some care and be kind to ourselves. ALWAYS ask for help and never turn it down if it is offered, even if it means you have a 20 minute nap while someone is having newborn cuddles, do it and don’t be ashamed about it. If you do feel something isn’t right and you’re not coping then by all means speak to someone, there are great resources available at the panda and gidget foundation. 5. What are the 3 most common things that you find affect how long a newborn sleeps? The 3 most common things that I see impact newborn sleep are: Environment: So ensuring they have a nice dark room, white noise, swaddle etc. These 3 factors all help to mimic those sensations of the womb and encourage great newborn sleep. Being overtired: This is a big one when it comes to newborn sleep. Really watching their awake windows will ensure they do not become overtired. When a newborn is overtired they will usually sleep for very short periods and you will find it much more difficult to get your newborn to sleep. Medical conditions: Medical diagnosis such as colic and reflux can play a big part in not so good newborn sleep. But the good thing is, they don't hang around for a long time, and there are things we can do to help keep them comfortable and promote great newborn sleep.
6. How long should I wait before I start letting visitors into my home with a newborn?
This is such a personal decision, for me personally, I loved having people over as I loved the help and social interaction. I also took advantage of it and had a nap and took a shower (praise be). But everyone is different and you may just love the baby bubble to consist of you, your partner and baby and this is absolutely ok, you will know when you are ready to open the doors.
7. When they say witching hour – what is happening and why? Anything to make it easier?
Oh you will know when witching hour hits. Witching hour is the time of day that most of us dread, its the home stretch to bedtime, a lot of multi-tasking is usually going on with dinner and baths etc, so why not through a fussy/crying newborn into the mix? It's so exhausting for all parties and it hits almost like clockwork most days, but I can promise you that witching hour doesn’t hang around for long. What causes the witching hour? Well, its a build up of things really, it consists of, tummy discomfort, being overtired, cluster feeding, and being overstimulated. I think the best thing you can do in this instance is to try to create as calm of an environment as possible, if this means dimming the lights, turning of the TV and popping your little one into the carrier, then please do it, whatever you can do to make it easier on yourself and your little one.
8. Who is the Newborn Program for and why?
I would recommend the newborn course for anyone with a baby under the age of 3 months, who is wanting to start to lay some healthy sleep habits early on, or learn a little bit about what is happening in this fourth trimester when it comes to newborn sleep. I like to think of it as an antennal class for sleep, we learn all about the birth prior to giving birth, but we don’t learn about newborn sleep and what to expect. This is exactly what this is for, I want you to have realistic expectations around your newborn baby’s sleep and just enjoy the newborn bubble. To learn more about The Sleep Teachers Newborn Program click here.
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