Sleep is such an important part of the first few months of your baby’s life. As babies aren’t born with the knowledge of how to fall asleep, it’s your job as a parent to gently encourage this learning process.
A great way to do that is sleeping together with your newborn baby as it has some excellent practical benefits, but there are some important aspects to consider and watch out for.
Benefits of Co-sleeping with your newborn baby?
Not only will sleeping with your newborn encourage bonding in a way that other kinds of shared activity between mother and baby cannot; there are also some practical reasons and emotional benefits to having your newborn baby in bed with you at night.
1. Nighttime breastfeeding is considerably easier for the mother
Not having to get out of bed during the night to feed your baby can make sleep for both of you much more achievable. Once you get used to feeding your baby at night, you can briefly wake up to help them latch on, and then fall back to sleep while your newborn nurses himself or herself until they fall asleep, too.
Implement the dream feed
The dream feed is recommended between the hours of 10-11pm and it's important to implement this at the same time each night. The idea is that your baby’s tummy will be full enough to allow them to sleep till the morning.
2. You can keep an eye on Your newborn’s health throughout the night
Should you have any concerns about your baby’s health at any time, you’ll want to be able to monitor them. Doing this while they’re in bed with you will be considerably easier than if they’re in a cot or another room. Just knowing that they’re next to you will also help alleviate any worries you might have if they are showing any small sign of illness or discomfort, making it easier for you to get a good night’s sleep.
3. It can be a very cozy feeling snuggling up with your newborn
This is especially true during the winter months, when you or your baby could feel chilly overnight. Having them close to your chest and feeling their soft organic baby clothes next to you can be very comforting — for both parent and baby.
Encourage good sleeping habits for your newborn baby
In order to comfortably sleep alongside your newborn baby, it’s a good idea to encourage some good sleeping habits to ensure you both get into a positive sleeping routine.
1. Be active during the day
Even from birth, keeping your newborn active and busy during daytime hours can help their bodies calibrate their own circadian rhythm, learning to be awake during the day and asleep at night.
2. Have a soothing and calming bath before bed.
Lavender oil is naturally soothing so a few drops added to the bath can help with bedtime preparation. To allow the oil to mix with the water, first add the drops to a cup full of milk, then pour in the bath.
3. Reduce stimulation at night
By the same token, by making sure you don’t overstimulate your newborn at night when you want them to sleep, you’ll help them adjust to a normal sleep cycle. Therefore, it’s important to not fuss over them too much once you’re in bed together.
This also includes ensuring the room can be made dark for both daytime naps and nighttime sleeps; having minimal wall decorations or a mobile set above the bed, as these may distract your baby from falling asleep; consider playing some white noise which will remind them of being in the womb and offer them comfort as well as block out any external sounds.
4. Have a consistent bedtime
Consistency really is the key. Once you’ve found a rhythm that works and a bedtime that makes sense for you and your baby, stick to it. This way, your baby’s body becomes accustomed to a set bedtime and can adjust accordingly.
5. Dress them comfortably
Because a baby spends so much of their new life sleeping (up to 80%), it’s important to ensure a healthy beginning with sleepwear that’s breathable and free from synthetics and chemical residues.
Natural fibres are soft and comfortable and allow for breathability and temperature regulation, which is ideal for a better night’s rest.
A great choice for for a newborn is ideally a baby onesie or jumpsuit. Newborn babies (and children in general) are prone to getting cold during the night, as they lose body heat much quicker than adults — especially wearing cotton baby clothes, as it is so breathable. Check your newborn’s torso to get an idea of how warm or cold they are, and see if they need another layer or to be changed into a thicker bodysuit.
Take some precautions
If you decide that sleeping alongside your newborn baby in bed is the right decision for you, then there are some safety considerations to keep in mind.
- Put your baby down to sleep on their back. Any other position can potentially be dangerous for a newborn to sleep in.
- Avoid wearing anything with buttons, clasps, pins or long strings in bed with your baby. Such things could scratch your child or get tangled up in their own newborn baby clothes, causing unnecessary discomfort for you both. The same goes for any jewellery: take it off before getting into bed.
- Make sure there are no gaps where your baby could get stuck such as gaps between the mattress and the bed frame or between headboard slats.
- Install a baby-safe rail. If there are exposed sides of your bed (such as if it’s not against a wall on the side your baby will be sleeping on) and the mattress isn’t very close to the floor, installing a rail will prevent your little one from potentially falling out of bed.
- Dress your newborn slightly less warmly than if they were sleeping on their own. This is so your baby’s body temperature doesn’t rise too much as you conserve warmth together. Choose something from our range of organic cotton baby clothes, such as a light baby bodysuit, that allows a small amount of their natural body heat to escape as needed.
Check in with your newborn baby
Not every newborn will love sleeping surrounded by their parents. Some babies enjoy having space and quiet when sleeping from a very early age, so it’s important to check in with your newborn and adhere to their preferences. This does not mean that you won’t be able to bond; just like the rest of us, some babies prefer to sleep alone!
But most importantly:
If you are able to get your baby into a healthy sleep routine, this will not only result in a good night’s sleep for your baby but it will also mean you will enjoy a much needed sound night’s sleep too.