Normal baby sleep

Coping with sleep deprivation as a new parent can be very challenging. It might seem like everyone else’s babies sleep more than yours or you may worry that you are doing something wrong.

All babies are different but it is normal for healthy babies to wake during the night in their first few months of life. Newborn babies have very small stomachs and will wake at least every two hours to feed.

A recent survey carried out by The Lullaby Trust shows 59% of parents with babies under 1 year old say their baby sleeps for less than 4 hours at a stretch. The results also showed that 44% of parents think their baby should be sleeping for longer than they do in reality.

Well meaning advice from others and the idea that certain products or practices can help a baby to sleep for longer can put pressure on parents. You may feel you should try to help your baby to sleep through the night. However, encouraging babies to sleep for longer or more deeply than is usual for them can be harmful and increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Coping with sleep deprivation as a new parent

It can seem challenging to follow safer sleep advice when you are very tired and it may be tempting to do something different. Following safer sleep advice for every sleep; day and night, is key to reducing the chance of SIDS. Unfortunately, for some babies, doing something different such as sleeping a baby on their tummy on one occasion can put them at risk.

Following The Lullaby Trust’s  ABCs of safer sleep can help to keep your baby safe and give you peace of mind:

Always on their back in a clear cot or sleep space

If you think you may fall asleep in bed with your baby you can help to prepare for this by making sure there will not be pillows or adult bedding near to baby and that pets or other children will not join you in bed. Remember that if you are a smoker or you have drunk alcohol, always plan for your baby to be in their own cot or Moses basket before you fall asleep

Extreme tiredness can be very hard to manage. If you are struggling with lack of sleep it may help to reach out to others for support. Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable asking for help but we aren’t meant to do this alone and people are often willing. If a trusted friend, family member or even a neighbour is able to watch the baby for an hour or so while you catch up on sleep it can make a difference.

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