Simple sleep sense for newborns (and tired mums!)


Like you, just-hatched babies are flying a little blind so it helps not to leave them to cry for too long which can make them even more tired, and make it even harder for them to get back to sleep. Once little babies are over-tired and unsettled they may need your help to get sleep – and that’s absolutely okay!

Watch for “tired signs”

It’s true – most newborns will spend about two-thirds of their time asleep during those first few weeks. But their wakeful, unsettled hours may be during the night when you’re trying to sleep, yet they sleep solidly throughout the day. Many babies find it difficult to distinguish between night and day at the start.

The word “routine” is bandied around a lot when talking about sleep – yet if newborns are following a routine, for most new parents it’s a completely bizarre one.

The key, whether you’ve adopted a flexible routine (a strict one is not usually recommended for those first weeks) or are following your baby’s lead, is to be able to spot the “tired signs”.

Once you’ve sighted one of these, it’s time to wind down the stimulation immediately and get her to bed before overtiredness sets in. Some experts say that you have just 10 minutes maximum to get your baby settled once you’ve spotted a tired sign.

Remember to ensure your baby’s sleep environment is safe. For information click here.

Here are your cues to get baby to bed ASAP.

  • Jerky arm and leg movements
  • Yawning
  • Glazed stare or even a cross-eyed look
  • Arching backwards
  • Sucking on fingers (this could be a sign your baby is trying to self-settle)
  • Pulling at her ears
  • Clenching her fist

The overall consensus (excluding the full-on ‘routine-at-any-cost’ proponents) is to spend those first weeks listening to your baby and working in with her sleep, feed and play needs. You’ll very likely be able to adopt a flexible regimen that suits both you and your bub.

This article was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot, Australia’s best resource for pregnancy and parenting.