What Are Some Common Sleep Problems
- Sleep deprivation: Some children dont get enough sleep. If your child is fussy, cranky or has difficulty staying asleep at night it might be because they arent getting enough naptime or aren’t getting to bed early enough.
- : Your child may have difficulty relaxing and going to sleep if they feel upset that you are not there. Try an extra long cuddle before bedtime, a security object such as a blanket or stuffed animal, or leaving their door open when you put them to bed.
- Nightmares: Most children will experience nightmares at one time or another. Nightmares can happen after a stressful physical or emotional event or can be caused by fever. Your child may call out to you for comfort. Talk calmly, cuddle and reassure your child.
Establishing A Baby 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 help prevent sleeping problems later on. It’s also a great opportunity to have one-to-one time with your baby.
The routine could consist of:
- having a bath
- changing into night clothes and a fresh nappy
- putting them to bed
- dimming the lights in the room to create a calm atmosphere
- giving a goodnight kiss and cuddle
- singing a lullaby or having a wind-up musical mobile you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed
- brushing their teeth
As your child gets older, it can be helpful to keep to a similar bedtime routine. Too much excitement and stimulation just before bedtime can wake your child up again. Spend some time winding down and doing some calmer activities, like reading.
Sleep Soundly: How To Establish Good Sleep Habits For Your Children
Sara Gable and David SchrammState extension specialistsHuman Development and Family Studies
We all know how great a good nights sleep feels and this goes for your children as well. Sleep is important to childrens overall well-being and essential to their growth and good health. A good nights sleep allows children to wake up feeling refreshed physically and mentally. Consistent and quality sleep helps children stay alert and focused during the day. It can increase their ability to concentrate, to remember what they learn, to problem solve and to enjoy normal physical activity. On the flip side, children who do not get enough sleep are likely to be moody, irritable, easily frustrated, and act more angry or sad in social interactions.
Clearly, sleep is very important for childrens functioning. So what happens while we sleep? Throughout the night, the body moves through sleep cycles transitioning between deep restorative sleep, lighter stages of sleep and dreaming. During sleep, muscles and skin are repaired and grow, memories are organized, and growth- and appetite-regulating hormones are released. Getting adequate sleep also helps protect against illness. Consistent and quality sleep allows adults and children to feel mentally and physically refreshed and more prepared to engage in daily activities.
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Assist Your Baby In These Habits
Your baby may not always show cues. My first baby never really told me she was hungry and would probably go 10 hours without eating if I didnt feed her on a 2.5-3 hour schedule. It goes the same for sleeping.
You may be thinking, my baby does not like to nap. Is that because you never see them yawn or when they get fussy, you feed them and they will always just eat because that also soothes them? You may have to help them get tired for a nap just as you do with bed time.
My son doesnt always fall asleep on his own wherever he is . So when I see him start to get irritable, I know hes actually just tired. I swaddle him up and rock him. Thats when hell start to fade into the heavy eye drowsiness.
Some time after your babys feeding , start the same routine you would do at night. Whether it be to swaddle, use the sound machine, rocking, etc. It should get them drowsy enough to take a nap. Even if they arent showing their tired cue, still put them down for a nap based on this timing.
If youre consistent about putting them down for naps at these times, whether theyre showing signs or not, you will be creating a good habit for them.
Get Sunlight And Avoid Artificial Lighting At Night
Make sure you expose yourself and your baby to bright light during the day. And keep lights outor at least dimmedafter sunset.
As noted above, natural lighting helps influence newborn sleep patterns. But it also helps you keep your own circadian rhythms from drifting, which is important if you are going avoid insomnia and be a source of daytime cues for your newborn.
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Good Sleep Habits For Infants And Children
Children grow and develop rapidly, so it’s important they get enough sleep to give them the energy they need for active play and good health. Having good sleep habits, such as routine sleep times, and ensuring a relaxed, safe sleep environment can help your child get the sleep they need.
References: What Scientific Studies Say About Newborn Sleep
Anders TF. 1979. Night-waking in infants during the first year of life. Pediatrics 63: 860-864.
Bennett C, Underdown A, and Barlow J. 2013. Massage for promoting mental and physical health in typically developing infants under the age of six months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30 4:CD005038. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005038.pub3.
Cheruku SR, Montgomery-Downs HE, Farkas SL, Thoman EB, and Lammi-Keefe CJ. 2002. Higher maternal plasma docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy is associated with more mature neonatal sleep-state patterning. Am J Clin Nutr 76:608-13.
Cubero J, Valero V, Sánchez J, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2005. The circadian rhythm of tryptophan in breast milk affects the rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and sleep in newborn. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 26:657-61.
Cubero J, Narciso D, Terrón P, Rial R, Esteban S, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2007. Chrononutrition applied to formula milks to consolidate infants sleep/wake cycle. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 28:360-6.
Custodio RJ, Junior CE, Milani SL, Simões AL, de Castro M, Moreira AC. 2007. The emergence of the cortisol circadian rhythm in monozygotic and dizygotic twin infants: the twin-pair synchrony. Clin Endocrinol . 66:192-7.
Dement W and Vaughan C. 1999. The promise of sleep. New York: Random House.
Doan T, Gardiner A, Gay CL, Lee KA. 2007 Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 21:200-6.
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Prepare For Quick Changes
“Hunting for a fresh crib sheet after your baby soaks his diaper or spits up is miserable in the middle of the night, and turning on the lights can wake him up more fully, meaning getting him back to sleep can take an eternity. Instead, double layer ahead of time: Use a regular crib sheet, then a disposable waterproof pad, then another sheet on top. That way, you can just peel away the top layer and pad, throw the sheet in the hamper, and toss the waterproof pad. Also be sure to keep a one-piece, a swaddle, or a sleep sack nearbywhatever it is your baby needs to continue the night comfortablyso you’re not hunting through drawers every time your baby’s diaper leaks.” Aimi Palmer, a sleep consultant and cofounder of AB Child Solutions, in London
Dont Wake Your Baby To Feed After 2 Months
If your baby is gaining weight properly, you dont have to wake them at night for feedings. Your baby needs to find them own sleep schedule. Once they are eating more in the daytime, they dont need to wake and eat at night.
Here are some instances where you should wake your baby:
- They are sleeping more in the day than the night and missing their daytime feeds.
- Dont let them go more than 4 hours without eating during the day. You may need to wake the baby up to feed at night, but it is probably better to try to change your babys daytime habits rather than continuing to wake them every 4 hours at night.
Your babys pediatrician will give you advice for your baby. For premature or special-needs babies, you may need to adjust feedings.
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Sleep While The Baby Sleeps
Newborns take frequent naps lasting anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, for a total of 16 to 18 hours of sleep each day. New parents are often severely sleep deprived if the only sleep theyre getting is overnight. Sleeping while the baby sleeps can sometimes be challenging because of other kids in the house or our internal body clocks, but its a good idea to try and get some rest, says Pien.
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
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Trust Your Instincts And Get Help When You Feel Stressed
If something feels wrong with you or the baby, talk to your physician. And remember that your own mental health is crucial.
Coping with sleep deprivation is very stressful, especially if your infant opens in a new windowseems to be especially fussy or prone to crying. Watch for signs of opens in a new windowpostpartum stress and opens in a new windowpostpartum depression, and reach out to others for support.
Dealing With Baby Sleep Problems
All babies change their sleep patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be up every 2 hours.
Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps.
If your baby is having problems sleeping or you need more advice about getting into a routine, speak to your health visitor.
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Our Body Clock And Sleep Cycle
Sleep patterns are controlled by our bodys internal clock, which keeps us awake during the day and promotes sleep at night. Our body clock helps to coordinate the release of a hormone called melatonin, which tells our bodies that its time to sleep.
Most children fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. Its important to establish routine times for your childs night-time sleep and daytime naps. This helps maintain their body clock to release melatonin, which helps them get to sleep more quickly. Once asleep, we cycle through periods of deeper and lighter sleep throughout the night.
Good quality sleep means your child sleeps deeply and doesnt wake up too often. Deepest sleep usually occurs before midnight, so getting your child to bed early will help them make the most of this period for good sleep.
Helpful Tips For Healthy Sleep Habits
The following are some helpful tips for establishing good sleep habits for your child:
Newborns don’t have a set night or day schedule for the first several weeks of life. It is best for a newborn not to sleep longer than 5 hours at a time in the first 5 to 6 weeks as their small bodies need frequent feedings.
Older babies and children should have a consistent nap time and bedtime schedule.
Start a quiet time, such as listening to quiet music or reading a book, 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime. TV, smart phones, ipads, and computers should not be a part of the quiet time.
After quiet time, follow a bedtime routine, such as a diaper change, going to the bathroom, and brushing teeth.
Set a time limit for quiet time and the routine so it does not drag on and your child knows what to expect before bedtime.
Say goodnight, turn off the light, and leave the room.
Security objects, such as a special blanket or stuffed animal, can be part of the bedtime routine.
It is important for children to be put to bed awake so they learn to fall asleep themselves.
Babies should not be put to bed with a bottle. It causes problems with tooth decay and ear infections.
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If You Are Breastfeeding You Are Likely To Get More Sleep If You Keep Your Baby Nearby
The World Health Organization recommends that babies share a bedroom with their parents, and its a recommendation that makes breastfeeding less disruptive. A recent study found that breastfeeding women got more sleep when they co-slept with baby . In fact, mothers who co-slept and breastfed got more sleep than did mothers who bottle-fed their babies .
Preventing And Breaking Habits
Sleeping in parents bed Safe sleep practices for infants up to one year of age include room sharing without bed sharing. An infant under one year of age must sleep on his back in his own bed. If your older child has been sleeping in your bed, and you wish to change this, it may be a challenge to break the habit. It is better to put your baby to sleep in his own bed at a younger age when it is easier to teach him to sleep alone.
Develop and follow a regular bedtime routine – At the point in the routine when your child is sleepy, but not fully asleep, place him in his bed. He may fuss for a few minutes. You can check on him every few minutes to see if he is OK but leave him in his own bedfor several more rounds of fuss and check, letting the fussy periods last for 10 minutes at the most. Do not keep going into his room or let him see you, or you will condition him to expect you to keep coming back when he fusses. He will eventually fall asleep. The next night, allow the fussy periods to last a little longer. It will be frustrating at first, but for this to work, you must be persistent and consistent. If you are not successful after several weeks you may wish to stop this plan and try again in 4 to 6 weeks. This method is not for everyone, so ask your childs pediatrician for other options if needed.
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