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 .
Signs Your Newborn Is Tired
Your baby may get tired after any activity a feed, a nappy change, or when youve had a cuddle or playtime. Theyll likely get tired after theyve been awake for one to one and a half hours.
When theyre tired, your baby might:
- clench or suck on their fists
- have tense or jerky movements
- arch backwards
- have trouble focusing, or stare into space
- startle easily.
Set A Bedtime Routine
A study of 405 mothers — with infants between 7 months and 36 months old — showed that babies who followed a nightly bedtime routine went to sleep easier, slept better, and cried out in the middle of the night less often.
Some parents start their baby’s bedtime routine as early as 6 to 8 weeks old. Your baby’s routine can be any combination of regular bedtime activities. The keys to success:
- Play active games during the day and quiet games in the evening. This keeps your baby from getting too excited right before bedtime but gets them tired from the day’s activities.
- Keep activities the same and in the same order, night after night.
- Make every activity calm and peaceful, especially toward the end of the routine.
- Many babies enjoy bathing right before bedtime, which calms them down.
- Save your baby’s favorite activity for last, and do it in their bedroom. This will help them look forward to bedtime and associate their sleep space with things they like to do.
- Make nighttime conditions in your baby’s bedroom consistent. If they wake up in the middle of the night, the sounds and lights in the room should be the same as when they fell asleep. If you need to feed or change your baby during the night, keep the lights low and the talking to a minimum. Too much stimulation can make it hard for them to settle again.
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Regulate The Room Temperature
Keep your babys room comfortably warm during winters and comfortably cool during summers, preferably between 16°C and 20°C, to promote sound sleep.
Exposure to high temperatures overnight can overpower your babys internal thermoregulatory system, which is still in its nascent stages. This effect increases your babys wakefulness and decreases slow-wave sleep and REM sleep.
Moreover, the risk of sudden infant death syndrome increases if your baby is exposed to temperatures above 20°C for a prolonged period.
Cold exposure, however, rarely affects the babys sleep stages since the use of beddings and clothing during sleep helps with thermoregulation, allowing for comfortable body temperature.
Keep A Plush Toy In Your Babys Crib
A soft, small plush toy that your baby can associate with sleep time will help him stay calm and also feel secure, so keep one in his bed. If your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, he might snuggle with it and fall asleep.
If your babys sleep pattern is not interrupting your routine, you can allow your baby to ease into sleeping at night for long hours gradually. However, if you find that you could use some extra sleep to beat sleep deprivation, you can try these methods to help your baby get a sound sleep.
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When To See A Doctor
Always consult your babys pediatrician before making any major changes to your babys sleeping habits, routine, or environment. Similarly, call the doctor if you notice a sudden shift in your babys sleeping pattern as it can be due to an illness, such as an ear infection.
If your baby experiences sleep troubles regularly despite adherence to an optimal bedtime routine, it is always a good idea to consult a pediatrician.
How Much Will My Baby Sleep In The First Year
Over the first year of life, your baby will sleep and nap a lot from 12 up to 18 hours a day. The amount of sleep an infant gets at any one stretch of time is mostly ruled by hunger. Newborns will wake up and want to be fed about every three to four hours at first. Do not let your newborn sleep longer than five hours at a time in the first five to six weeks. Thereafter, you can keep the following general milestones in mind:
- By six months, many babies can go for five to six hours or more without the need to feed and will begin to “sleep through the night.”
- Daytime naps reduce in number as the baby grows. A 2-month-old may nap up to four times a day, whereas an older infant may nap only one to two times a day.
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Week : Review Newborns Sleep Schedule
At a month and a half, your baby may have developed new patterns. Do you notice any changes? Perhaps youre transitioning into a more consistent feeding schedule. Maybe you notice your newborn is more awake and alert in the morning.
Now is the time to review your newborns sleep pattern and schedule. Do you find them getting tired at the same time at different points in the day? This could clue you into making that time a naptime.
Are they getting drowsy after dinner at the same time? Thats cue to make it bedtime. Do they get up to eat at the same time? That can clue you in when you should get some shut-eye before getting up in the night.
Following this newborn sleep tip will help you get into the habit of noticing when your baby is getting sleepy and is ready to be put down with ease.
Settling Babies Aged 0 To 6 Months
Babies need to learn the skill of going to sleep and parents can help.
In the first 6 months, you could try holding your baby in your arms until they fall asleep. Use gentle rhythmic patting, rocking, stroking, talking, or softly singing before putting your baby into the cot asleep. These repetitions signal relaxation and sleep.
You could also try ‘hands-on settling’, where you place the baby in the cot awake and gently pat or stroke them till they fall asleep, comforting them with gentle ‘ssshhh’ sounds.
If your baby becomes or stays distressed, pick them up for a cuddle until calm or asleep before putting your baby back in the cot. Stay with them until they fall asleep.
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Do Your Babys Sleep Habits Leave You Feeling Like A Zombie Be Patienta Full Night Of Snoozing Is On Its Way Learn When Babies Start Sleeping Through The Night And What It Means For Physical And Cognitive Development
Most parents suffer from sleep deprivation during the first few months of their babys life. Babies need good sleep nutritionboth the right amount and the right quality of sleepfor optimal physical, cognitive, and emotional development, says Jennifer Waldburger, M.S.W., co-creator of The Sleepeasy Solution book and DVD. When and how your baby will achieve good sleep nutrition depends on factors like his age, weight, temperament, and environment, and your familys routine.
The good news is, with a little work and a lot of patience on your part, your baby will eventually snooze for hours at a time. Keep reading to learn when babies sleep through the night naturally, and how the milestone affects development.
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.
Image credits for Newborn sleep patterns
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Week : Look For Sleep Cues
Your cruising into having a 1-month-old! By now you might be feeling a bit more adjusted, recovered, and bonded to your infant.
Newborn sleep might be sporadic but now that you know your baby better, start looking for sleep cues. Take notice of the things your baby does to show that they are tired. Do they cry a certain way? Get fussy and then ratchet up the noise? Get extra snuggly or rub their eyes?
This newborn sleep tip will help you recognize when youre baby is telling you they want to sleep and will help you put them down with success!
Many times an over-tired infant is hard to get to sleep. However, when you see they are ready to sleep and you take action you will get better results!
Stick To A Consistent Bedtime Routine And Schedule
You can help condition your baby to sleep longer at night by following the same bedtime routine every day. You can start off the bedtime routine by lightly massaging the babys body, followed by a warm bath and a change of clothes.
You can also try different soothing interventions, such as playing or singing lullabies, cuddling, hugs, and light patting, to see what works best for your baby. It can take 314 days for your baby to become familiar with the bedtime routine.
Many studies have indicated that the implementation of a consistent and optimal bedtime routine is a feasible and cost-effective method to improve several health metrics in young children.
Moreover, it can have a direct positive impact on the quality of sleep in early childhood by improving sleep onset latency, sleep duration, and sleep consolidation.
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Why Do Babies Wake Up At Night
While babies need more sleep than adults, they sleep in multiple shorter periods throughout the day and night. A babys sleep-wake rhythm does not start to stabilize in line with day and night until the age of 10 to 12 weeks, although some babies may take longer than others. For the first year of life, multiple factors may contribute to a babys nighttime awakenings.
Dont Put Off Sleep Training Because The Baby Is Teething
Newsflash: Your baby is always teething. Or sick with a cold. Or coming down with something. Or recovering from something. Or over-tired. Or suffering from Unexplained Fussy Baby Syndrome. If you intend to sleep train, its important to know that it may never feel like the right time. Experts say its easiest to sleep train a baby between the ages of six and 12 months, but use your judgment and listen to your gut. If youre not fully committed to sleep training before you start, you wont stick to it.
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When You Need Artificial Lighting At Night Use Bulbs That Block Blue Wavelengths
If you eliminated all sources of electric and electronic light at night, you and your baby would probably find it easier to sleep. But for most of us, total blackouts arent a realistic option.
What can we do when we want to engage in evening activities, like reading? What can we do when we need to change a diaper?
Happily, all light wavelengths dont have the same effect on the inner clock. Yes, white light has a disruptive effect on sleep patterns, and young children are especially sensitive to the effect.
But it appears that one component of white light the blue part of the spectrum is responsible for much of the trouble. If we can block that part of the light spectrum, we might minimize the negative effects of light exposure at night.
A low watt, amber bulb can protect your baby from blue wavelengths, yet provide you with enough light to carry out nighttime infant care. Likewise, blue light filters may reduce the risk to sleep caused by viewing electronic screens at night.
Read more in my article about the opens in a new windoweffects of electronic screens and artificial lighting on childrens sleep patterns.
Lay The Baby Down Awake But Drowsy
The most important way to encourage your newborn to sleep in the long run is to teach him to fall asleep independently, which is essentially the beginnings of teaching independent sleep.
Babies, like adults, will naturally wake up during the night. Without knowing how to get back to sleep, a baby will cry out after waking regardless of actual need, resulting in night waking droning on for much longer than is actually necessary.
Once a baby gets older, falling asleep independently enables a baby to drift back to sleep after waking in the night, ultimately helping your baby sleep better in the long run.
You can start by settling your baby into a drowsy state with your newborn baby routine, then lay your baby down in their safe sleep space. If needed, place a gentle but firm hand over your babies chest while he drifts off.
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Dealing With Baby Sleep Pattern Changes
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.
Learn The Art Of Stress
Its hard to soothe a baby who is very irritable or distressed. This Parenting Science article about opens in a new windowstress in babies offers insights into what stresses out babies. It also provides evidence-based tips for keeping babies calm and emotionally healthy.
But what if you are feeling too stressed-out to project reassurance and calm? Or too depressed?
If so, you arent alone. Caring for a baby can be very stressful and exhausting, especially when you are sleep-deprived, coping with opens in a new windowchildbirth trauma, or struggling with a baby that opens in a new windowcries excessively .
If youre emotional state is poor, opens in a new windowscreen yourself for postpartum depression, and make your psychological health a priority. Postpartum depression and opens in a new windowpostpartum stress are very common, yet many parents continue to suffer privately. Talk to your doctor about your options.
For more information, see my article about the opens in a new windowpersonal costs of parenting stress and these opens in a new windowParenting Science tips for coping.
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Follow The Eat Wake Sleep Cycle
The baby wakes from sleep and immediately eats. Then the baby is awake for a while to play. Then the baby goes back to sleep.
This cycle has several purposes. First, it encourages full feedings by allowing the baby to eat immediately after waking. The baby will have the most energy immediately after waking, making him more inclined to take a full feeding and go longer between feedings.
Also, by feeding the baby after sleep rather than before sleep, the cycle prevents the baby from associating food with sleep or using food as a sleep prop. When using this cycle, a feeding before bedtime is typically only feeding before sleep.
Of course, there were times where I definitely fed my baby before sleep. He needed a little TLC for a certain nap, and I was totally fine offering it when he needed it. But for the most part, I tried to avoid feeding him right before sleep.
Note: Newborns require frequent feedings and rest to ensure healthy growth a development in the early months. Always feed your baby as frequently as your baby needs to ensure healthy weight gain.
How To Help Newborns Get In Sync With The Natural 24
1. Make your baby a part of your daily routine.
When parents include their newborns in their daily activities, newborn may adapt more rapidly to the 24-hour day .
One study took continuous measurements of mother-infant activity patterns for four months after birth. Newborns who were active at the same time of day as their mothers were quicker to develop mature circadian rhythms .
2. Reduce stimulation at night.
When your baby wakes for night time feedings, keep activity to a minimum. Make as little noise as possible, and avoid moving your baby around. Ideally, you want to avoid waking her all the way up. But if that isnt possible, at least try to minimize the hustle and bustle. You want the baby to learn that nighttime is for sleep and quiet.
3. Expose your newborn to natural lighting patterns.
Light cues might not instantly synchronize newborn sleep patterns, but they help.
For example, in one study, newborns slept longer at night if their parents observed a regular policy of turning out the lights by 9pm .
In another study, young babies tended to sleep longer at night if they had been exposed to lots of early afternoon light .
And time spent outdoors might make an important difference. Babies who go outside experience much higher daytime light levels than those kept indoors all day, and may develop stronger circadian rhythms as a result .
4. Try infant massage.
The takeaway? More research is needed on this topic , but meanwhile, this seems worth a try.
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