Parents struggle to find lasting baby sleep solutions from day one. Devoid of good sleep habits, your baby follows an erratic sleeping pattern, causing stress and strain on you. Her sudden cry perturbs your comfort and often forces to forgo your sleep at night. Unless you sleep train your baby, the irregular sleeping habit continues with age and becomes a cause of sleep deprivation for the entire family. Learn about the baby sleep basics, how to establish a routine, and getting your baby sleep comfortably by avoiding common parental sleep mistakes.
Understand Baby Sleep Basics
- A newborn baby needs about 16-18-hour sleep a day until the age of 6 months.
- The average sleeping time reduces to 12 to 15 hours between six months and 18 months.
- In the first month, a baby may sleep without any day or night consideration. The day-time sleeping is almost equal to the night time or even more. As her age progresses, the pattern changes.
- When she turns three months old, the night-time sleeping increases and the baby sleeps less during the day.
- A 6-month old sleeps almost 10 hours at night compared to 5 during the day.
- The number of naps a baby takes varies. She has both longer and shorter stretches of sleep at any time during the day and there is no fixed time. However, night stretches becomes longer and day-time sees fewer baby sleep hours as age progresses.
- Newborns are not aware of day or night differentiation. They sleep as they feel comfortable.
Don’t Expect Baby Sleep To Follow Predictable Lines
Every baby is unique, and don’t expect your baby to match the sleeping pattern of others. There is no definite or predictable pattern of baby sleeping at least until eight weeks. She may sleep 18 hours, but without any fixed time or duration. Waking up at night is common, and your baby is no exception. A newborn is not aware of the difference between the day and the night, and this contributes to her erratic sleep habit.
So don’t force a sleeping routine on a newborn and wait until she understands the sleeping time. At best you can make her understand the difference between day and night. Give her feed whenever she wakes up at night and cuddle back her to sleep. Play with her when she wakes up during the day, but avoid eye contact at night to let her identify the difference.
Recognize Baby Sleep Signs
Your baby has no definite sleeping time. She is not aware of any kind of sleeping hours and falls asleep whenever she feels the need. It is difficult to force her to develop sleeping habits according to your expectations. Better you can recognize her sleep signs and help her develop a sleeping pattern based on them.
Closely observe the signs, such as yawning and crying, telling that your baby wants to sleep and facilitate her comfortable sleeping. Swaddle her, breastfeed her, be quite, and make soothing sounds to help the baby sleep. The more comfortable she is, the longer is the sleeping time. Don’t be chatty or funny with the baby to keep her wake, as she will become overtired and inconsolable. An overstimulated baby may experience difficulty in falling asleep and may sleep for a shorter duration. Also, ensure your baby does not suffer from sleep deprivation and continue to take to shorter day-time naps.
Often babies wake up, babble or cry and then sleep again. This is a normal process and you should not intervene. Any interference has more chance of waking up the baby.
Follow A Consistent Baby Sleep Routine
It is important to let the baby know the time to sleep. As the bedtime nears, stop playing with your baby. Change the nappy and feed her quietly. Avoid talking to her and create a soothing and disturbance-free environment to help the baby sleep. This makes your baby aware of the time to sleep. She will learn gradually and get into the habit of sleeping with similar actions and inviting environment.
However, you need to be consistent as far as the baby sleep time is concerned. It should not vary every day and must follow a regular pattern to facilitate its easy adoption by your baby. The time must be the same every day and precede a series of relaxing steps to let the baby learn the expectation easily and fall asleep swiftly.
Take Comfortable, Relaxing Steps To Help Baby Sleep
The more comfortable and relaxed a baby, the higher the chance of sleeping for a longer duration at night. Take right steps to relax your baby and make her fall asleep quickly. Go to the bed with your baby and if required cuddle her. Ensure there is ample soothing as far as bed, lighting, voice, and ambiance is concerned.
Keep the room temperature suitable for your baby and dress her accordingly. Don’t try to stimulate her. Let her feel relaxed and wanting to be on the bed. Don’t allow her sight to catch hold of any moving object or disturbances created by others.
Sleep With Your Baby
Co-sleeping has both advantages and disadvantages. However, it has more beneficial effects when you are parenting a newborn. A baby misses the comfort of the womb soon after her birth. She feels more relaxed and comfortable when stays close to the mother. The more relaxed the baby, the better the chance of her falling asleep easily.
Studies also hint at a longer sleeping duration for babies who sleep with the mother. They wake up less often and return to sleep swiftly than those sleeping alone. Even co-sleeping gives a soothing feeling to colicky babies.
Create Right Environment To Help Your Baby Sleep
Use a specific bed or cot for your baby to sleep. Don’t allow your baby to play with it. This helps your baby learn that the place is to sleep, and whenever she is there, it is her bedtime. Also, create a relaxing environment to help the baby sleep comfortably. Get appropriate sleeping gears. Make the light dim, put down curtains, close the door, don’t allow anyone to talk to her, ensure a noise-free ambiance, keep away toys, and refrain from playing with her. Such measures will ensure that your baby sleeps deep and does not wake up frequently.
Swaddle and Dreamfeed Baby Prior To Sleep
Swaddle the newborn snugly yet safely. Research shows that babies have an inherent feeling of falling down until the age of five months. As a result, babies startle themselves awake. This is one reason why newborns wake up suddenly and frequently. Swaddling helps negate such sensation in a sleeping baby and helps them sleep better and longer.
Dreamfeed or feeding before bedtime is often viewed as a baby sleep catalyst. Hunger is the primary culprit in forcing a baby to wake up after a while. Feeding prior to sleep inhibits this to some extent and elongates the sleep duration.
The Baby Cycle: Feed-Sleep-Wake Up-Feed-Play-Sleep
Hunger is the main reason behind a newborn waking up frequently. You need to breastfeed the baby prior to bedtime to ensure a good sleep for her. When the baby wakes up, feed her again and allow her to play for some time and sleep.
The cycle facilitates full feeding of the baby and keeps relaxed, a key factor contributing to better baby sleep. A content baby also remains less stimulated and irritated. It helps keep her energetic and less fatigued during the day, resulting in shorter sleeping durations. This automatically translates to longer night sleeping hours. Frequent feedings help in growth and development too.
Strategic Night Nappy Changing for Better Baby Sleep
Your diaper changing tactic may aid in the sleeping of the baby. Rashes and irritations caused by diapers often prevent a good sleep. You should ensure the diaper is not an intrusion and your baby wears a clean and comfortable diaper while sleeping. Use ointments or natural oil to soothe their skin rashes from nappies.
Avoid changing diapers at night too frequently as you do during the day. Limit to it only when necessary and allow your baby to sleep without any disturbance. Also, select the right time to avoid stimulating or waking up your baby from sleep. Change diapers when she wakes up for feeding at night.
Don’t Be Late To Put Your Baby To Sleep
Avoid a late bedtime for your baby. If you do, you may be in trouble. A baby staying awake late into the night is at the risk of being overstimulated or sleep deprived. In either case, she feels difficulty in sleeping and becomes inconsolable, making your task more complicated.
Never keep your baby awake so that she feels tired. A tired baby starts crying and becomes overstimulated. This makes putting her to sleep even more difficult.
So avoid spending too much time with your baby after meals. Fix her sleeping time and try to be consistent with that. Put her to sleep around that time without any delay.
No Playtime Before Bedtime
Shun any kind of activity that is likely to stir your baby and keep her awake at bedtime. Keep her away secluded and from any distraction at the time of sleeping.
You should not talk to the baby or allow anyone to talk to her. Try to avoid eye contact with her. Put your phone on silence mode and away from a sleeping baby. Turn off the lights. Ensure no rotating toys, sounds, and lights seek her attention. She may remain awake if any distraction catches her attention. If she is unwilling to sleep, engage her in a relaxing game while avoiding any action that makes the baby energetic. Control any kind of noise and make it more soothing.
A good sleep is the key to the growth and development of your baby. Avoid making any mistakes that interfere in the sleeping pattern of your baby. Allow her to sleep as and when she needs and inculcate good sleeping habits as she grows up.
Ravneet also blogs at www.wellnessguide.com