Five ways to improve your baby’s sleep cycle

 

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Jodie Warburton, a Sydney midwife, sleep consultant and owner of Mindful Mum, assures new mums that constant change in the early months is entirely normal.

"It takes roughly 12 weeks for your newborn baby's circadian (day/night rhythm) to establish," she says. "Newborn babies don't produce enough melatonin (our sleepy hormone), which is why their sleeping patterns are so unpredictable."

She adds: "Exposing your baby to plenty of light in the day, especially first thing in the morning and late afternoon, and keeping it dark for sleep time will help."

Breastfeeding helps too, she says. "Breast milk contains tryptophan, which encourages melatonin production, and is why babies are often sleepy after feeding."

There are other factors at play too. We've narrowed it down for first-time caregivers who are wondering not only what's best for their bub when it comes to some shut eye, but when they'll ever get another full night's sleep themselves.

It starts with you

Good sleep – for everyone- says Jodie, starts with identifying your own needs. "Tune in to you. Listen to your body and what it needs," she says. "What's important to you as a mum? Is it to exclusively breastfeed or get help so you can get some sleep? Is it to be vigilant with your nutrition or have gentle daily exercise? Only you know what you need to help reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Don't be afraid to reach out for help."

She also encourages mums to learn their baby's tired signs which commonly include yawning, grizzling and staring off into space.

A soothing sleep space

When a baby's very new, they're accustomed to the dark, cosy womb. Elements that recreate that safe space, like black out blinds to create a dark room, will foster sweet sleep.

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The womb is in fact a noisy place. Its natural internal soundtrack has been measured at as much as 90 decibels (the same as a power lawnmower) - so it makes sense that your baby might not settle amid silence.

Jodie recommends white noise soundtracks. "White noise can be extremely beneficial," says Jodie. "I prefer natural noises like rain, played continuously throughout their sleep, not too loud. If it's on your phone, ensure airplane mode is switched on to avoid interruptions."

Day or night, it's important to create calm before baby's sleep. "If you over-stimulate your baby, they will find it hard to wind down," says Jodie. "Using a calming voice, low lighting and relaxing sounds will help to prevent this."

Boosting the air quality in your baby's sleep space with an air purifier to reduce airborne pollutants in their home is a choice many parents opt for. These smart devices help to ward off pollen, mould, pet dander, odours and chemical irritants. Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the air outdoors [1] , so using a purifier that captures potentially harmful pollutants in the air at home can help to put your mind at ease.

It's a wrap

Swaddling is a great aid in settling your little one, because it helps prevent their startle reflex which is strong in the early months and often wakes them. "Swaddling should be snug enough around their shoulders that it contains the startle reflex, but not so tight that it interferes with baby's breathing," says Jodie. "The swaddle around their hips should always be loose to prevent hip dysplasia. I recommend putting them into a sleeping bag with their arms out between three to six months once they can roll over. "

Set up for sleep

There are several sleep-promoting activities parents and their baby can enjoy together, says Jodie. "Skin-to-skin contact provides many benefits as well as comfort; it can also help regulate your baby's temperature, breathing and heart rate and helps promote breastfeeding. And bottle feeding mums and dads can enjoy this one too."

Baby massage is also fun for everyone. "As well as relaxation it promotes bonding, feeding, increases circulation, improves digestion and can reduce stress levels in children and their parents. Before five months of age it's best done on waking, rather than straight before sleep, as it can over-stimulate infants."

While bathing is often recommended as part of a bedtime routine, babies don't need a daily bath in the first 12 weeks, says Jodie. "Skipping a day can actually help prevent skin dryness and damage. Just a simple wash of your baby's face, neck creases, and the bottom area will suffice. As babies reach three months, it can become part of the evening routine."

Create your own routine

Jodie recommends establishing a bedtime ritual that works for you from day one. "Babies can understand the general context of what you're saying and your tone before they can actually speak," she says. "Verbal cues help babies recognise the pattern of the bedtime routine: feed, burp, swaddle, close the curtains, white noise on, cuddle, into the cot. As your baby gets older, you can start to add stories to the bedtime routine."

But there's no need to set stringent rules, she adds. "Don't worry about creating 'bad' habits in those first few months. There is no point stressing about a strict routine. Try and enjoy the moment. It won't be like this forever, and by the time you have your baby in a nice routine, they won't be small and squishy and want to cuddle all day anymore, and you'll look back and might even miss it."

This article has been produced in association with Dyson. 

Dyson, a world leader in problem solving technology, spends over AU$14 million a week in research and development. The Dyson Pure range of purifiers are at the forefront of technological change; driven by intelligent sensing, big data, analytics and machine learning to create the optimum indoor environment. Dyson has been developing filtration systems for 25 years and the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Link™ purifier fan heater is our most advanced purifying technology yet to ensure the air in our homes is cleaner. Considering that every day we breathe an average of 10,000 litres of air, it's no surprise that people are starting to pay more attention to the quality of the air we breathe and its overall effect on our health. The machine contains a smart sensor that monitors the environment for pollutants and when harmful pollutants are detected, it automatically purifies the air. The Dyson Link App enables people to 'see' the invisible pollutants in an air quality graph; by tracking air quality history people can monitor air quality, feel informed and adjust their behaviour accordingly.

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[1] Supported by data from the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research.