You’re back home from hospital and your little bundle of joy is snuggled in your arms. You can’t take your eyes off them. But then night-time comes around and you find the constant waking a shock to the system. You may find yourself thinking, I thought newborn babies slept all the time?!

Yes, newborn babies do spend a huge amount of time sleeping – even up to around 16 or more hours in a 24 hour period. But the duration they sleep for each time may not be that long.

This is because newborn babies need to regularly feed and poop, meaning they will wake up more often. Plus, newborn babies haven’t yet developed the ability to link their sleep cycles, so aren’t able to sleep for consecutive periods of time.


Setting their circadian rhythm

On top of that, newborn babies do not have a developed circadian rhythm. This means their internal body clock has no idea whether it’s night or day, so their sleep pattern is all over the place. There is no structure to it yet.

This is why, as your baby gets a bit older, starting to create a routine is really important. And also make sure that night sleep happens in the dark (it’s worth investing in blackout blinds for the summer months), and they are exposed to daylight during the day.

In terms of routine, I recommend developing a bedtime routine from as young as 6 weeks old. This can simply consist of a lullaby and story before sleeping, but it all helps the circadian rhythm.

Reading a story to a young baby? Why not? It’s calming and a lovely bonding experience for you both. They’ll just love listening to the sound of your voice.


Sleep shaping

In the early days, babies need our comfort, closeness and cuddles to help them get to sleep. You may be questioning why your baby just won’t fall asleep by themselves in their Moses basket or cot. My advice would be don’t stress. Enjoy these weeks. They’re tough, there’s no doubt about that, and the impact of sudden sleep deprivation is utterly exhausting, but enjoy the cuddles and closeness as much as you can – even if you’re finding this time very difficult. It does go very quickly.

Having said that, there’s no harm in giving your baby the opportunity to settle themselves. If he/she is fussing, watch them for a moment to see if they stop by themselves before intervening. Similarly, allow your baby time in their sleep space during the day to get them used to it.

You can even practise popping them down in their sleep space while they’re still awake, but starting to fall asleep. See how they get on. If they’re happy with this, that’s great and it is the first step towards independent sleep as they get older.

But if they’re just not having any of it, don’t worry. I know it can be exhausting having a little human attached to you all the time, but consider investing in a good sling so you can pop to the loo/make a drink/phone a friend etc more easily while your baby is sleeping on you.

As your little one comes out of the newborn phase and starts approaching 18 weeks, you may want to consider at this point experimenting with independent sleep. Popping your little one in their sleep space while still awake for every nap and bedtime is a good start. They don’t have to stay there if they’re really unhappy about it (just pick them up and do whatever you usually do to get them to sleep) but practising this overtime really helps in supporting them to self-settle (if that is your goal).


Looking after you!

The newborn weeks are extremely tiring. Despite this, you may absolutely love the cuddles and closeness of those early days. But you may not. You may be feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way.

Having a baby can bring out so many different emotions. If you regularly feel low, anxious or are having troubling thoughts, please do reach out for support and talk to somebody. You don’t have to do this alone!

There is no shame in saying you’re not coping. No one will judge you. People will only want to help you. Looking after you, as well as your baby, is so important.

I once read a quote that summed it up perfectly. ‘Hold the mother not the baby’. Simply, this means that the baby is already being loved and cared for by the mother, but the mother herself needs love and support too.

So mama, you’re amazing! You have been through so much to carry this little being around and then bring him/her into the world. And you’re doing an incredible job every single day. Never forget that.


Surviving on no sleep

So, yes, to some extent, you have to accept the sleep deprivation that comes with the newborn weeks. As time passes, you can make changes to improve sleep, but for now, it’s about survival.

My top tips for coping with no sleep:

  • Accept help from family and friends. If you’re happy sitting and holding your baby but what you really want is someone to do the washing up, just be honest with them. They won’t mind! I would have my marigolds on in a second if a friend asked!
  • Rest when the baby sleeps. Ok, so the old saying is to sleep when the baby sleeps, but this isn’t always possible. I used to try, but my mind was so awake I just couldn’t fall asleep. So do the next best thing – rest. Lye on the sofa. Watch TV, read a book, or just stare into space. It doesn’t matter. But try to take some rest. The caveat here is if you’re a second or even third time mum. Resting while you have other little ones pulling on your arm or demanding your time is almost impossible. So don’t feel guilty about putting the TV on for them! There I said it.
  • Snack on slow-release energy foods. When you feel tired your body craves energy, i.e. sugar. So reaching for the chocolates or biscuit tin is so tempting. And, of course, you can eat chocolate and biscuits – you’ve just squeezed out a tiny human, you can eat anything you want to! But eating loads of surgery snacks may make you feel worse, so consider swapping every other biscuit or chocolate bar for something like nuts, dried fruit, low sugar flapjacks or peanut butter on toast.
  • On the food theme, ahead of baby arriving, consider batch cooking and getting a few meals in the freezer. Or if cooking just isn’t your thing, freeze some ready meals. That way you have food on tap without having to worry about doing a big shop when all you want to do is binge Netflix with your little one sleeping on your chest.


And there you have it. Newborn sleep advice in a nutshell. I’ve got my second baby on the way, so this has been a good reminder for me too!

If you would like further advice and support on newborn sleep consider booking one of my Little Lullabies calls. A one-off video call to chat about your little baby, and for you to ask me questions. If you’re interested, drop me an email at