Do Not Let Your Baby Sleep Longer Than 2 Hours At A Time From 7 Am To 7 Pm
This has got to be the single most effective thing you can do encourage your newborn to have longer stretches of sleep at night. Granted, this will literally be impossible to accomplish for most babies before 4 to 6 weeks. When those new newborns want to sleep, try as you might, they will not wake up. But, as soon as you see that youre able to wake them up a bit, do so! Take off their clothes, expose them to cooler air, take them outside/expose them to sunlight, put them in a baby tub filled with lukewarm water Simply put, do anything you can to wake them up if theyve been asleep for longer than 2 hours.
Trust me on this one.
How Do Babies Communicate
Babies are born with the ability to cry, which is how they communicate for a while. Your baby’s cries generally tell you that something is wrong: an empty belly, a wet bottom, cold feet, being tired, or a need to be held and cuddled.
Sometimes what a baby needs can be identified by the type of cry for example, the “I’m hungry” cry may be short and low-pitched, while “I’m upset” may sound choppy. Before you know it, you’ll probably be able to recognize which need your baby is expressing and respond accordingly.
But babies also can cry when feeling overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds of the world or for no clear reason at all. So if your baby cries and can’t be calmed right away, remember that crying is one way babies react when they’re overloaded.
Babies also use other sounds, facial expressions, and body movements to connect with you. Learning to recognize them is rewarding and strengthens the bond with your baby.
Pay attention to how your little one responds to your voice. The sound of your voice means food, warmth, touch, and comfort. If your baby is crying, see how quickly your approaching voice quiets them. See how closely your baby listens when you talk in loving tones. Even when staring into the distance, your baby will be paying close attention to your voice as you speak. Your baby may subtly adjust body position or facial expression, or even move their arms and legs in time with your speech.
Don’t Feed Baby To Sleep
“Newborns fall asleep all the time while eating, and I don’t want anyone to stress about that,” notes Turgeon. But if your baby often dozes off during a feeding, they’ll think they need to eat in order to get back to sleep.
To combat this issue, gradually move the feeding earlier until your little one can get through it, then finish the routine with a calming book and song, and tuck them in drowsy but awake. You may still need to get up for a nighttime feeding, but then it will be about hunger, not soothing.
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Establishing A Bedtime Routine
You may feel ready to introduce a bedtime routine when your baby is around 3 months old. Getting them into a simple, soothing bedtime routine can be helpful for everyone and can help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also great one-to-one time with your baby. Here are some things to try:
- dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- giving them a goodnight kiss and cuddle
- singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile that you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed
When To Talk To Your Pediatrician
As part of routine visits to your pediatrician, ask them about the benefits and drawbacks of using a pacifier and whether they think it is appropriate for your situation. Your pediatrician can also advise you on best practices when using a pacifier and when to eliminate it, as well as alternatives if you decide you prefer not to.
While there is evidence that sleeping with a pacifier is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS, experts maintain that whether or not to use a pacifier is a parents personal decision. Healthy sleep is important for babies, and a pacifier may help with that. You can decide based on your needs and what makes you and your baby comfortable.
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Teach Your Newborn To Sleep
If you can get in the habit of putting your newborn to sleep while he is drowsy but still awake, then you will begin to teach him how to put himself to sleep. Like adults, babies go through several cycles of wakeful periods during the night. Adults can put themselves back to sleep with no issue. For babies, this is a learned skill. The sooner your baby can fall asleep on his own, the sooner your baby will sleep through the night.
Put Off Extra Responsibilities
You want to get back to feeling like your normal self soon after giving birth, but dont push yourself. Put off any extra responsibilities that you may feel inclined to take. You dont NEED to bring a dish to that work potluck. Everyone will understand that youre tired!
Dont volunteer with your childs classroom. Skip some playdates and dont feel obligated to head to a family party if youre really tired.
All of these things are great, but if youre exhausted, theyre only going to make matters worse. Right now, you need to preserve all of your energy and not waste it on activities that arent necessary.
Lets be honest youre in a survival mode right now with a newborn baby! Your single goal is to survive until your baby sleeps longer stretches, and you CAN do it! This hard stage only lasts so long, and itll just be a painful memory before long.
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Be Strategic With Diaper Changes
Changing your babys diaper can be a stimulus for your little one, making it difficult for her to go back to sleep. If diaper changing is revving up your baby, you may want to choose to limit changes to just poopy diapers and diapers that are exceptionally wet. Lightly wet diapers can wait until the morning. The tradeoff will be longer, more uninterrupted sleep at night for you and your baby.
Don’t Worry If Naps Are A Hot Mess
“Yes, consistency is key, and the safest place for your baby to sleep is on her back in a crib. But many babies under 6 months don’t nap best there, so don’t beat yourself up if she falls asleep on your chest or in a carrier or a car seat , or if you wind up pushing a stroller around the block for 40 minutes so she’ll get some shut-eye. You’re not wrecking night sleep by letting naps be a little more haphazard in the first six months. Most babies don’t start developing a real nap schedule until 5 or 6 months, and even then, some nappers will put up a fight and others will be way more flexible about napping on the go.” Szmulewitz
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Why Babies Resist Sleep
Babies arent born ready to sleep through the night for 8 to 10 hours. In fact, there are concrete and science-backed reasons why babies dont sleep as much as youd like. Here are a few:
- During the first few weeks, they dont even know its nighttime. In the womb, day and night werent really a thing, so how would they know?
- Newborns eat every few hours and shouldnt be going too long without a feeding. Breastfed babies will eat
Where Should My Baby Sleep
For the first 6 months your baby should be in the same room as you when they’re asleep, both day and night. This can reduce the risk of SIDS .
Particularly in the early weeks, you may find your baby only falls asleep in your or your partner’s arms, or when you’re standing by the cot.
You can start getting your baby used to going to sleep without you comforting them by putting them down before they fall asleep or when they’ve just finished a feed. It may be easier to do this once your baby starts to stay alert more frequently or for longer.
If you use a baby sling to carry your baby, make sure you use it safely. The Lullaby Trust has information about swaddling your baby and using slings safely.
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Baby Has Skipped A Nap
Skipping a nap is a big indicator your newborn will express more difficult behavior later in the day. Not only are tired babies more cranky but they’re more challenging to settle when it comes time to put them down for another nap or bedtime as well.
If you’re out and about and they do miss a nap or take a short one in the car, just keep in mind that they may be cranky later in the day and have a harder time settling down. If you can’t get home, extend that car nap by running through the drive thru or taking the long way home to avoid a meltdown later in the evening.
Try White Noise At Night
White noise can help to replicate the sounds your baby heard in your womb and may help keep her calm. Your white noise machine may need to be at a fairly loud volume to work, and can also act as a sound barrier, helping to block outside sounds from your babys room.
White noise is often very helpful for children who are very alert and curious to help them calm their minds and fall asleep.
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How Your Infant Sleeps
Youre rocking, walking, or nursing your baby and her eyelids droop as she begins to nod off in your arms. Her eyes close completely, but her eyelids continue to flutter and her breathing is still irregular. Her hands and limbs are flexed, she may startle, twitch, and show fleeting smiles, called sleep grins. She may even continue a flutter-like sucking. Just as you bend over to deposit your sleeping baby in her crib so you can creep quietly away, she awakens and cries. Thats because she wasnt fully asleep. She was still in the state of light sleep when you put her down.
Now try your proven bedtime ritual again, but continue this ritual longer . You will notice that babys grimaces and twitches stop her breathing becomes more regular and shallow, her muscles completely relax. Her fisted hands unfold and her arms and limbs dangle weightlessly. Martha and I call this limp-limb sign of deep sleep. Baby is now in a deeper sleep. You put her down and sneak away, breathing a satisfying sigh of relief that your baby is finally resting comfortably.
NIGHTTIME PARENTING LESSON #1:
What Age Do Babies Go To Bed Earlier
There is no one answer to this question as every baby is different. Some babies may start sleeping through the night as early as 6 weeks old, while others may not sleep through the night until they are 6 months old or even older. However, most babies will start sleeping for longer stretches at night by around 3-4 months old. By 6 months old, many babies will be able to sleep through the night without needing a nighttime feed.
The Psychological Benefits Of Cosleeping
Meanwhile, anthropologists observed that all mammals and primates, as well as the majority of non-Western societies around the world, coslept. Therefore, it was likely that the practice had some biological advantage.
One of McKenna and his colleagues greatest scientific contributions has been to show how parents serve as a kind of biological jumper cable, or outsourced regulator, to a newborn baby when she is completing her gestation outside her mothers body. When parents and babies sleep together, their heart rates, brain waves, sleep states, oxygen levels, temperature, and breathing influence one another.
To a biological anthropologist, this mutual influence implies that the offsprings growth is intended to occur most safely inside that biological system, near an adults body, especially in the first few months of life while the babys own physiology is the most immature. For example, animal studies found that when baby monkeys were separated from their mothers, their bodies went into severe stress. A small study of 25 four- to ten-month-old babies who were separated for sleep training showed that even though the babies behavior quieted on the third night, their levels of cortisol remained high.
What About Swaddling At Child Care Centers
The National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance explains that some day care centers that receive payment through the Child Care and Development Fund do not allow swaddling babies down to sleep. Some require written permission from a doctor.
Further, the National Resource Center For Health and Safety In Child Care and Early Education notes that in child care settings, swaddling is not necessary or recommended.
Why? Some of the reasoning surrounds swaddling in a group child care setting. The idea is that it may be hard to practice safe swaddling and sleep practices when there are multiple children to care for. Its best to contact your daycare center directly to find out their rules regarding swaddling.
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Send An Early Riser To A New Time Zone
“Waking at 5 a.m. is rough, and it’s one of the hardest things to fix. Parents often try making their baby’s bedtime later, but what you really need to do is shift his circadian rhythm, as if he’s flying to Bermuda and needs to function in a new time zone. That means everything needs to move to a later time. If you shift by 15 minutes each day, you can adjust his body clock in about a week.” Nalle
Stick To An Early Bedtime
When considering how to put a baby to sleep, timing is just as important as a routine. “At around 8 weeks, babies have a rise in melatonin, a drowsy-making hormone the body releases when it’s time for sleep, which means they’re ready for an early bedtime consistent with the sun setting,” says Turgeon. “If you keep them up late instead, they become overstimulated and harder to put down.”
Melatonin levels rise somewhere around sundown, but given that sundown can be anytime from 4:30 in winter to 8:30 in summer, stick to the clock and put your baby down around 6:30 or 7 p.m. for the most success. If the sun is still up, close the shades.
“A good sign of drowsiness is when the baby becomes calmthey’re less active, have a bored look, or just stare off,” says Turgeon. Don’t mistake this behavior as happiness for being awake. Seize the moment and start your bedtime routine. “The baby’s internal clock is telling them when to be awake and when to be asleep, and you want to reinforce that,” she notes.
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Week : Show Your Newborn The Difference Between Night And Day
Newborns dont know the difference between night and day when they are born. Thats one of the reasons why they are up and down at all hours. To acclimate their body clocks to the rhythms of your day introduce your newborn to the concept of night and day.
This important newborn sleep tip will help them set their internal clocks to be awake more during the day and sleep for longer stretches at night eventually.
To do this create a stark contrast to day and night in your home.
During the day keep lighting and noise at a normal level. Where ever baby naps keep the room from being pitch black. Play music in the background. Do most of your activities during the day.
At night soften the environment. Turn down the lights and the volume. Slow down the pace of life. When putting baby down at night draw the shades closed and make the room dark.
Over time your newborn will adjust and with it adjust their awake and sleep hours.
Appreciate The Power Of A 30
When youre running up an enormous sleep debt, you might think a 30-minute nap will make little difference to your health.
But recent research confirms that all naps are not the same. When youre sleep deprived, the brain compensates by rendering naps more restorative than usual.
In one study, volunteers permitted to sleep only 2 hours at night showed the typical abnormalities in their stress hormone and immune factor chemistry. But after just two 30-minute naps, those irregularities were entirely normalized .
In another study, volunteers coping with a 2-hour nightly regimen experienced heightened pain sensitivity a common symptom of sleep deprivation. But once again, the effect was reversed after just two 30-minute naps .
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Common Reasons Why Your Newborn Won’t Sleep
If you’re struggling to sort out why your infant won’t close their eyes, it can be due to an array of issues, not because they enjoy seeing you pull your hair out. Your child needs zzz’s just as much as you, and it’s usually due to feelings of frustration caused by an issue that can often be helped. Below we discuss what you can do.