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  • Writer's pictureInformed Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond.

Normal Newborn Sleep

There are several phrases we would like to see banned and one is “sleeping like a baby”. The idea that babies should be seen and not heard, that they should have a feed and then sleep peacefully in a cot for a significant period of time has no basis in actual baby physiology and has so much potential to make new parents feel like they are failing.

The real-life situation is that everything in the world is new to a baby and all they have ever known is to be perfectly happy in the warm darkness listening to your heartbeat. So if your baby wants to only sleep on you and never be put down, congratulations they are normal.

Newborn baby sleeping skin to skin under a blanket.

The most effective answer to so many worries and concerns when it comes to babies crying, feeding and sleeping is to get them skin to skin with you. If you’re concerned about anything your baby is doing first ask yourself would this get better if we got skin-to-skin? This gives you the opportunity to both calm down, to feed your baby if they are actually crying because they are hungry rather than tired and to allow them to regulate their breathing and temperature and so to fall asleep peacefully. Once you have a calmly sleeping baby you have the headspace to work out a plan that allows you both to get the sleep you need.

Good quality support can make all the difference

Then ask yourself who do I trust to answer the question "is this normal?" To answer in a way that will support me and help me without making me feel little or stupid for asking the question. Making a list of people who can do this for you might be the best thing you could do for yourself when preparing for parenting.

Thinking of sleep as over 24 hours rather than a specific number of hours at a time may be helpful and putting together resources to allow you to nap during the day or sharing care tasks with your partner in a way that works for you are some things that can be helpful.

Lots of people find that making a safe place to bed share especially when they have a breast/chest fed newborn allows them to get some sleep and avoid getting so tired that they accidentally fall asleep in an unsafe situation while feeding. There's more information on this on the Lullaby Trust Website.

One really excellent resource for learning about normal infant sleep is BASIS. This research-based information source has details all about the science of why babies sleep the way they do. We really recommend reading their website.

The book let's talk about your new family's sleep is another good resource.

Book cover sleeping baby and woman text reads let's talk about your new family's sleep

We also read lots of useful information on the author's (Lyndsey Hookway) social media.

If you're struggling with how much sleep you're (not) getting remember it's always an option to come along to our meet-ups and chat with other people who've felt like that before and get some more ideas. More details on when and where to find our meet-ups are on our website home page.

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