Sleep deprivation is one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a new mum. We've asked the nurses at the Tresillian Live Advice line for solutions to your most common queries about newborn sleep.
Question: "My three-week-old baby has been crying on and off all day and nothing I try helps. What can I do to make my baby sleep?"
Answer: "Many new parents have this concern. Being unsettled and crying is normal for a newborn and part of their development. Offer lots of hands-on support like patting, rocking and talking to your baby in a soothing voice. Going out for a walk in the pram or drive in a car can be helpful to put bub to sleep.
You could also try a very brief feed as your baby wakes, then look for tired cues such as staring, eye aversions or sudden body movements. This is a time to seek support from partner, family and friends, as these methods take up a lot of energy and can be very exhausting.
Once baby reaches around three months, things will usually improve. The body clock kicks in between three and four months, after which babies are ready to respond to a routine."
"Unless I am holding him, my newborn won't sleep. I can't put him into the cot because he keeps crying."
"At this age babies need to be physically close to their parents and some need help going to sleep or re-settling. Comforting with cuddles is the best way to settle you're a crying baby. Wrapping can also help – use a light material such as cotton, make sure bub's arms are above waist level and there is room to move his legs, then put him in the cot to sleep, as this helps to support independent sleeping behaviours. Soothe him with your voice, using repetitive whooshing sounds.
Also, check how your baby is feeding (such as fast, gulping or snacking) and whether there is a link to his unsettled behaviour. If babies feed or drink quickly, they can ingest more air which causes wind. It's important to burp your baby, as gas can make its way through their digestive system into the lower bowel and cause colic wind pain."
Babies love being held… it makes them feel safe and secure. (Image: Getty Images)
Question: "Relatives warn me I will spoil my six week old by letting her sleep in my arms. I've also been told she should be in a routine by now."
Answer: "Newborn babies love being held close against their parents as this makes them feel safe and secure. Feel free to bond with your baby by letting her sleep in your arms. This is important, especially if she is distressed – you definitely won't spoil her.
Developmentally, at this age babies are not old enough to learn routines, so it's important to practice a feed, play and sleep routine that will support better sleep behaviours. We recommend babies get a minimum of six to eight feeds in a 24-hour period. A sleep between each feed is ideal, although sometimes she might not settle."
Question: "Is crying it out or 'controlled crying' a good method to help my baby learn to sleep?"
Answer: "New research about infant mental health has shown there are gentler and more effective ways to support good sleep behaviours. Tresillian uses an evidenced-based method called 'responsive settling' where parents are encouraged to gently practice the skills for independent sleep with their baby by soothing bub if he gets distressed. Many parents find this approach much easier to use and less stressful, as their baby does not have to cry for prolonged periods."