Your newborn will be soooooo sleepy during its first three weeks thanks to your Maternal Melatonin still in its system. Here's what to expect of your sweet, sleepy little newborn.
During weeks one to three, expect your newborn to sleep 16 hours a day. That's only 8 hours of awake time in a 24 hour period. They may have a 2.5 hour nap and only wake up for a feed and a nappy change and a swaddle and go back down after only 40-60 minutes of awake time. This is completely normal.
Your newborn will wake, feed, have a nappy change, get swaddled and be put right back to bed for a 90 minute+ sleep. Repeat.
Many have begun to promote the first three months of a baby's life as the Fourth Trimester. As such, parents are urged to consider replicating what newborns found comfortable. This is why swaddling is important. They were so used to being warm and bundled up inside the womb. To safely swaddle, keep the arms nice and tight by their sides but keep their swaddle nice and loose around their hips. Newborns should always be put down to sleep on a firm flat surface on their back with no additional loose blankets or pillows or cot bumpers.
You may want to introduce the idea of daytime v.s. night time to your newborn. You can do this by keeping the curtains open during nap times, or have them in a bassinet in the lounge room during the day.
Some newborns are very "sucky" and might benefit from a pacifier or dummy to help them settle. Warning: Do not substitute a dummy for a feed. If a newborn wakes up after 45 minutes, you might attempt to settle them back to sleep by introducing the dummy. However, if they have been asleep for 2.5 hours and are chomping vigorously at the dummy and are unsettled these are clear cues that the newborn is hungry. Do not leave feeding off for too long as a distressed baby might not be able to latch on properly to have a proper feed.
Some things to be aware of:
• Weight - Your newborn should be gaining (on average) 30 grams per day (210 grams/week). If you and not sure if your newborn is receiving enough milk, you can weigh your baby immediately before a feed and immediately after (do not change their nappy in between weighing). Most newborns require 1-2 weeks to regain their birth weight.
• Breastfeeding - Feed frequently at this stage to establish your milk supply and your little one's latch.
• Allergies and Intolerances - Keep an eye on their skin and general well-being. If sleeping is a problem for them, it is likely a feeding issue at this stage. Speak to your GP or Pediatrician if you are concerned.
• Snoring - Newborns should not snore. This is an indication that a doctors attention is required.
• Sweating - Sweating despite removal of layers of clothing is cause for concern. Speak to your GP or Pediatrician.
• Difficult to Wake - Is your newborn not waking after long stretches of sleep for a feed? Do you have to go to great lengths to wake up your baby so they can feed properly? Speak to your doctor. This could be a sign of jaundice.
• Too Hot? - Do not put a beanie on your baby as they sleep. Not only is this a SIDS risk but their head helps regulate their body heat. Touch their ears and tip of their nose. Are they cool to the touch? Perfect. Are they pink? Warm? Back of their neck sweaty? Take off their clothing and re-swaddle wearing a layer or two less. It is perfectly ok for a newborn to be swaddled wearing only a nappy if you live in a tropical, warm climate.
Your sleepy little baby will wake up around the three weeks mark as the maternal Melatonin that has made it so sleepy wears off. At this point parents think there's something wrong with their baby. When in fact, the baby's body is not yet generating its own sleep hormone yet. A more alert baby who requires more assistance settling to sleep is completely normal at three weeks.
If you are experiencing sleep difficulty prior to three weeks, be aware that the problem is most likely a feeding issue. You would do well to talk to a lactation consultant or pediatrician to make sure that feeding is progressing exactly as it should for your newborn's health and well-being.
If you would like assistance after this three weeks stage to help get a plan in place to settle your baby to sleep, contact Cradle 2 Kindy Parenting Solutions and we'll set up a consultation for you.