The newborn phase, or also called the fourth trimester, can be a huge adjustment period for parents. Besides the new role of 24/7 caregiver of another human, babies often like to sleep on different schedules, eat often, and be held CONSTANTLY. This is because they were held snugly inside of mom, until now. Now, all of a sudden, they are in a strange, cold environment, where they need your constant reassurance that they are going to be okay. The good news is there are things you can do to help recreate the womb, and help your little babe transition to this big new world, and maybe even help you get more SLEEP!
It’s pretty dark inside your uterus. Yes, he/she can see the light that shines through, but there is fat and other tissues dimming that light. Keep the room as dark as you can. If you need some light, use a nightlight or have a lamp by the bed that you can use as needed.
Ever notice that your baby sleeps soundly all day with the television blaring, people talking, dogs barking, and then the moment you put them down in a nice dark, quiet room they are wide awake? While your baby was baking, it was never quiet. He/she could hear your heart, bowel sounds, the outside world, and so much more. Static, rain, vacuum cleaner, washing machine – these are all noises your baby may like. You can download a free app on your phone (just be aware that every time someone calls you, the noise may stop) or buy an inexpensive noise machine. It may take some experimenting to find the magic sound for your baby. For our son, it was rain.
There are many benefits to babywearing. One benefit is that your baby is held snugly against your body where he or she wants to be. Inside your womb, there was not much space for your baby to go, and this tightness provided warmth, comfort, and security. By babywearing, you can mimic this for your baby. So check out your options online, or better yet, at your local mother-baby store (where they can teach you how to use them). There are many options to choose from, such as wraps, ring slings, and soft structured carriers.
Like babywearing, swaddling also provides warmth and security by tightly wrapping your baby like a burrito. However, instead of holding baby, parents often place baby in his/her sleeping space. Swaddling is not recommended if you bedshare with your baby, because it is easier for them to overheat. Also, it is important to give your baby many opportunities in the day to move their arms and legs. For more discussion on the risks and benefits of swaddling click here.
Your newborn was inside of you for 9 months (give or take). He/she wants to be next to you, this includes at night as well. Studies also show that co-sleeping helps regulate baby’s heart rate, breathing, sleep cycle, and blood sugar. Co-sleeping will look different for every family. It can also help mom get more sleep, just make sure you are doing it safely.
What worked for your newborn? Have another tip? Please share below in the comments!
I am a certified childbirth and parenting educator, as well as a doula in the Lafayette, LA area. For more information about me and my services, visit my website at M.Y Birth & Baby.