Your Baby Sleep
On average, your newborn baby will sleep for a total of 18 hours out of 24, but he will still keep you busy. He has developed his own sleeping pattern in the womb, so it is unrealistic to expect him to follow your sleeping pattern immediately now that he has been born. However, he will soon learn to distinguish between day and night and you will gradually be able to establish a routine.
As your baby grows and starts to feed less at night he will sleep for longer periods. By 4 months he will probably be sleeping twice as long at night as during the day. Make the most of his waking periods by talking to him and letting him kick on a mat on the floor. He is more likely to sleep soundly after some stimulation - it does not take much to tire a baby!
Being in a dark or quiet room will make no difference. Usually he will just like the security of being near you. After a few months, he will outgrow a carrycot or Moses basket, waking himself up by kicking or pushing against the sides.
Try to sleep while your baby is asleep during the day. This will help you to cope with sleepless nights. Understandably people will want to visit you, but try to limit visits to a certain time each day, so that there are periods when you know you will not be disturbed.
Follow these guidelines to make sure that your baby sleeps safely:
- Place him on his back, with his feet at the bottom of the cot.
- Do not use a cot bumper or cover his head with a hat.
- Keep the room temperature at about 18°C. At this temperature two blankets (not folded) should be sufficient.
- Blankets should come no higher than his shoulders, so that they cannot go over his head.
- Your baby's hands and feet often feel cool so feel his tummy or the back of his neck to judge his temperature.
- Never put your baby next to a radiator or heater, or give him a hot-water bottle.
- Do not let anyone smoke around your baby.
- Keep your baby in your room for the first 6 months, but only let him share your bed if you are breast-feeding.
- Never let your baby sleep in bed with you (even if you are breastfeeding) if you smoke, take drugs or have been drinking alcohol.
- If you have any doubts about the temperature of the room or how much bedding to use, ask your midwife or health visitor.
- Never sleep with your baby on a sofa.
Calming your baby
Babies do cry and we cannot always tell why, which can be hugely frustrating. For much of the time they probably do not even know themselves. They are often more unsettled in the early evening, perhaps because they sense that you and your partner are tired. If you are feeling tense, take a deep breath and consciously relax your shoulders as you breathe out - babies easily sense any tension and will react to it by crying.
Ignore any advice telling you to leave your newborn baby to cry, unless you are totally at the end of your tether. In the longer term, your baby will feel more secure if he knows that you will respond to his crying and will be more relaxed. However it is worth allowing him to 'fuss'a little when you put him down, as he needs to learn to go to sleep on his own.
Comforting a crying baby
Some of the methods used to comfort a crying baby may sound ludicrous but, when your baby is crying, you will try anything.
Some parents find that their babies settle better if they share the crib -after all, they are used to being in a small space where they can touch and see each other. If you let your babies sleep together, be sure to follow the rules for safe sleeping (see opposite). It is possible to buy a larger cot specifically designed for twins, although they will eventually need separate cots.
Inevitably, twins are exhausting. As well as caring for two babies you may be recovering from a caesarean section or a premature birth. Having good support when you leave hospital is essential. It can be worth contacting any local college that runs a nursery nursing course; they may be looking for somewhere to place a student, who can gain valuable experience while, at the same time, providing you with help