N&G Expert Panel – Learning About Newborn Sleep Patterns

We are continuing with our N&G Expert Panel and addressing an issue that is in the forefront of many new parent’s minds – SLEEP!

Jennifer Garden the founder of Sleepdreams, an unsurpassed team of professional sleep consultants.  We highly value Jennifer’s expertise and asked her for advice to share with our New & Green families.

N&G: When working with parents to be, what are the top 3 things that you tell them to expect about their newborns’ sleep in the first few months?

Jennifer: 

1. Go with the flow, it’s important to establish breastfeeding and so feed often and sleep when your baby sleeps.

2. Keep the temperature in a sleeping environment cool (research suggests between 18-19 degrees Celsius). In order for us to get to sleep our body temperature needs to drop slightly, a cool room will help with getting a baby to sleep.

3. Based on sensory information we know about how the body interprets information, one very good ‘trick’ to getting a baby into a crib drowsy is to put them bum down first and head down last (tipping them the other way alerts the brain and wakes them up!)

N&G: Often “newborn” families want to establish a rhythm in their day with respect to sleep. Do you have any tips about establishing a rhythm for babies in the first months?

Jennifer:

1. Help your baby get to know the difference between daytime and night time by keeping their environment quiet and dark at night (even when feeding) and stimulating (except at nap time) and bright during the day.

2. Language skills won’t come for some time (at 10 months they understand 20 – 30 words). A consistent routine before bed/naps will help children understand when bedtime is.

N&G:  We get asked a lot about wet diapers interrupting a baby’s sleep.  Can you help us understand if a baby will lose sleep over a wet diaper?

Jennifer:  Sometimes babies interpret touch differently. Some children may excessively register a ‘wet’ sensation from a diaper and are always aware of the feeling of wetness against their skin, they are said to be hyper-sensitive to touch. Other children are hypo-sensitive to touch and do not register when their diaper is dirty or wet. If you have a baby who is very aware of a wet diaper they may be much happier if you change it frequently.

*Note from N&G – To decrease a wet feeling/sensation to a touch sensitive baby, you may want to consider using a diaper that has a stay dry interior or lay a stay-dry microfleece liner inside your natural fiber diapers at night.

About Jennifer Garden: Jennifer is a paediatric occupational therapist (OT) specializing in sleep for infants and children.  Jennifer is a mother of twins and a university instructor who has presented at several national conferences on sleep and is actively involved with a sleep research team in Vancouver.

Find out more:  www.sleepdreams.ca

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