Settling your Newborn Baby using the 5 S’s

According to the Sleep Foundation newborn babies require between 14 and 17 hours of sleep per day. Due to the small size of your babies tummy, this sleep will be broken up with frequent feedings.

It is normal for your newborn to need a lot of support to settle to sleep, and one way to help them with this is to try and replicate the womb.

Your baby has spent up to 9 months being cosy inside your womb, and it can take them some time to adapt to the outside world. The outside world is loud and has many scents that they’re unfamiliar with. Newborns tend to sleep very well when being held as you’re their home and your familiar scent provides calm.

So, how can the 5 S’s help you settle your new baby?

These work collectively to help replicate the womb and provide comfort and calm for your baby.

What are the 5 S’s?

These were originally coined by Dr Harvey Karp, consisting of swaddling, side settling, shushing, swaying and sucking.

Swaddling is a method used to safely wrap a baby to help reduce waking from their startle reflex. When it is done correctly it is an effective technique to help calm and promote sleep. Many companies have created TOG rated swaddles to ensure your baby is warm enough for the room temperature when sleeping.

If you choose to swaddle your baby, you must ensure it is loose enough around their hips to allow for movement to prevent hip dysplasia. You must also remove the swaddle once your baby shows signs of rolling to ensure they are sleeping safely.

You can choose to swaddle your baby with their arms down by their body and my personal favourite arms down swaddle is the Ergopouch. Alternatively, your little one may prefer their arms up and to have a bit more movement, therefore you could try The Love to Dream.

Side/stomach is a position used to replicate the way a baby would have been within the womb; this is a position that allows them to feel safe. Babies can feel insecure on their backs and have a feeling as if they’re falling which activates the startle reflex. Babies enjoy being held to calm in a side position in your arms. When transferring your baby to their sleep space, try to put them down feet first and then roll them onto their back for SAFE SLEEPING.

Your baby will also likely enjoy being in a sling/carrier as this provides warmth, scent, movement and sound for soothing.

Shushing is a method of using sound to sooth a baby, most commonly white noise or a “shh” sound from a carer. Alongside the other S’s, Shushing provides the sense for babies of being inside the womb, babies are used to being around noise. Using white noise allows for baby’s calming reflex to turn on, and by keeping the sound playing during sleep it ensures they stay settled.

If you choose to use white noise, try to avoid the sound exceeding 50-55 decibels in their sleep space. You can download a free decibel checker and place your phone in their bassinet/cot to check the level of the sound.

When using white noise, try to play during your wind down and for the duration of sleep to block out external sounds.

Swinging is the use of motion for soothing, for some babies this is the only thing that soothes them, as swinging echoes the motion babies become entranced by in the womb and turns on their calming reflex.

Your baby may like being held in your arms and bounced up and down with a rocking motion. They may also like it when you sway back and forth in a rocking chair or standing. Most babies will also like a bum pat, or a hand on their chest and rocking them side to side when laying down. Try to experiment with a variation of motion to find the one your baby prefers.

Sucking to feed satisfies your babies hunger, resulting in calming them. Your baby will show signs of being hungry and rooting for milk and providing them with a feed will settle them significantly. However, in situations where you may have already fed and they show no other signs of hunger, a dummy can be introduced if they have established feeding well. This can help soothe your baby and allow you to lay down to sleep either in the bassinet or hold them in your arms.

If you're looking for some more guidance with your newborns sleep, reach out for a FREE chat to see how I may be able to help.

I also have a Newborn Support package, providing you with an in depth phone consultation to educate about what is normal and what to expect in the first few months. We will also discuss about setting up a safe sleep environment and tips for settling your newborn baby. This package comes with additional follow up to help you feel supported during the fourth trimester.

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