6 Tips to help you survive the first 6 weeks with a newborn
I vividly remember the moment I gave birth to my daughter; I was extremely happy to finally meet that little tiny adorable person who I was patiently waiting 9 months for.
I also remember the very moment I entered my room at the hospital after my delivery, where all the random advice began.
Literally everyone in the room had something to add. I am sure that all of these advice came out of love, nonetheless it was overwhelming specially for a first-time mother.
Therefore, today I want to focus on my area of expertise, that being baby’s sleep and give you 6 tips to help you survive the first 6 weeks of with a newborn.
Tip #1: Focus on the wake window of 45 minutes.
It is very important for your baby to get the sleep they need for their age. This helps in their development as growth hormones are secreted during sleep and consequently help them gain weight and sprout up.
Therefore, up until the age of 6 weeks, your baby can tolerate only 45 minutes of awake time. After that, they should be ready to sleep again. To know that you are on the right track, your baby should be getting four to six naps per day lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours per nap.
Tip #2: Baby should sleep on their back and in the same place.
It is always a good idea to start healthy sleep habits from the moment the baby is born. One of these habits would be to let the baby sleep in the same place for naptimes and bedtime whether it is in a crib, a bassinet or a side bed. This helps the baby feel safer and get used to the surroundings as a result they will sleep better.
To prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) make sure that your baby always sleeps on their back. You might hear that if the baby sleeps too much on their back, it might cause Brachycephaly which is the flattening of the head.
To avoid that, you can turn your baby’s head to the side while he is sleeping on their back. Also, give your baby some “tummy time” by placing them on their stomach during the day when they are wide awake, however, make sure to never leave your baby unattended while doing so.
Do not buy any special newborns’ pillows as it might increase the risk of SIDS. No pillows of any kind should be used before the baby turns 18 months old.
Tip #3: It is completely normal if your baby flinches, keeps moving and makes strange sounds while asleep.
I wish I knew this as a first time mother. No one told me that it was totally normal for babies to move and make strange sounds while asleep. I kept sending my pediatrician video recordings of the noises and movements my baby did when she was sleeping and he would tell me it was completely fine.
When adults and baby sleep, they go into sleep stages one of them is the light sleep also called REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep.
The reason babies move during sleep is because they lack REM sleep muscular paralysis, which controls our muscles and their movement when in REM sleep and therefore prevent us from acting out our dreams.
When babies are in REM (Rapid eye movement) sleep which is light sleep, they tend to twitch and fidget and that is absolutely normal. It is just a phase and it will pass. To help your baby sleep better, you can swaddle them to limit these movements.
Tip #4: Swaddling.
I am pretty sure you have heard this advice several before and that is to swaddle a baby. As a matter of a fact, swaddling does help the baby to sleep better but only if you do it correctly.
A swaddled baby should always sleep and be placed on their back for safety reasons. Swaddling should not be too tight specially around the hips and knees.
It is crucial that the swaddle does not overheat the baby, if you found your baby sweating after being swaddled then you should use a lighter material or make them wear one layer less.
Most importantly, stop swaddling your baby as soon as they show any signs of starting to roll or at the age of 3 months. Lastly, keep in mind that not all babies like to be swaddled and that is perfectly fine, thus do not force it.
Tip #5: Sunlight.
Sunlight plays a significant role in regulating your baby’s circadian rhythm. That is to differentiate between day and night and as a result it will help them determine the sleep/wake cycle.
Getting a decent amount of sunlight during the day charges up our melatonin (Sleep hormone) production. Please be cautious when exposing you baby to sunlight. Direct sunlight might cause sunburns to the newborns’ skin.
Tip #6: Seeking HELP!
Last but surely not least; seek some help so you can rest a little. It is absolutely ok to ask for help. Whether it’s from your husband, you mother, your sister or even an expert.
There is a lot to deal with in the first few weeks and it can get a little exhausting, so ask for help from the people around you. Let them take care of your baby for a while during the day and get yourself some rest or sleep whenever you can.
Don’t feel guilty, it doesn’t make you less of a mother. Being healthy and in good shape will allow you to be there for your baby when they need you. So make up for the lost sleep; trust me you need it!
There are obviously plenty more tips and advice on newborns and their sleep habits, but these are what I think are the most important.
Last of all, remember that all these moments past faster than you think so try to enjoy every step of the wonderful motherhood journey.