So When Do Babies Develop Mature Circadian Rhythms
Its normal for babies to take 12 weeks, or even longer.
Most infants take about 12 weeks to show day-night rhythms in the production of melatonin . Circadian changes in cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate alertness, may take even longer to emerge . And, overall, babies may take 3-5 months before they settle at nightmeaning that they sleep for more than 5 hours at a stretch .
Nevertheless, newborn sleep isnt completely divorced from the natural rhythms of the 24-hour day. Studies show that circadian rhythms begin developing in the first days after birth.
For example, German and Japanese studies have reported that newborns sleep more at night than they do during the day .
And scientific evidence suggests that even newborns are receptive to environmental cues about time. You can take advantage of this fact to help shape newborn sleep patterns.
When Can Babies Sleep On Their Sides
After the age of 1, you can let your baby sleep on her side.However, it’s important to always place your baby in his crib on his back onto a firm crib mattress thatâs covered with a fitted sheet.In the first year, the crib shouldnât contain any loose bedding, bumper pads, blankets, pillows, or stuffed animals. It should be completely empty.
Why Do Some Babies Develop Flat Spots On Their Heads
For the first 6 months, the safest place for your baby to sleep is on their back, in a crib in your room. Babies who sleep on their back are much less likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome . SIDS is when a baby , that seems healthy dies suddenly in their sleep, and the cause of death cannot be explained.
A babys skull is very soft and the bones can be affected by pressure. Babies also have weak neck muscles and usually turn their heads to one side when placed on their back. Because of this, your babys skull may flatten. This is known as a flat head. The medical term for this is positional plagiocephaly.
A little bit of flattening goes away on its own. More serious flattening may not completely go away, but itwill not affect a babys brain or development.
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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.
Which Sleeping Positions Increase The Risk Of Sudden Unexpected Death In Infancy
You may have observed infants sleeping in various positions. Some of these sleeping positions increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy . SUDI is a broad term that encompasses all sudden deaths in infants, including SIDS, which is generally caused due to suffocation in a newborn. Sleeping on the chest/stomach is one of the most dangerous positions for infants. Lets take a look at some more sleeping positions that increase the risk of SUDI.
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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.
Flat Spots On Babys Head
When babies are young, their heads are still very soft. Sleeping on their backs can sometimes make the backs of their skulls a little bit flat over time. This is called positional plagiocephaly. It usually gets better without any medical help by the time babies are 12 months old.
If its worrying you, you can gently alternate the tilt of your babys head each time you put your baby into bed to sleep. But always put your baby on their back to sleep. Then keep your baby off the back of their head as much as possible when awake. Tummy time can help you do this.
If youre worried about the shape of your babys head, speak to your GP or child and family health nurse.
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Elaboration Of The Key Points
GOR regurgitation or spitting up is common in babies. Regurgitation occurs in about 50% of babies less than 3 months of age and resolves spontaneously, without intervention, by 12 months in all but 5% of babies 1, 3, 4, 8. It is usually mild and self-resolving. GOR is a normal physiological process occurring several times per day in healthy babies both term and preterm and is normally cleared by swallowing 9, 10. The great majority of children with the more serious GORD are over one year of age 2. Most GOR can be managed by educating and reassuring parents that it will resolve by itself without treatment or medication. Medical attention is recommended if vomiting is very frequent and growth should be monitored using parent-held records.
Dont Play The Blame Game
Brooding about the situation will make it harder for you to fall asleep when you are given the opportunity. And its wrong-headed, too: You might be doing everything you can to get more sleep, and still be stuck with a baby who sleeps less than average.
Research suggests that the amount of sleep we get at night is strongly influenced by genetics , and, as mentioned above, there is a lot of individual variation among newborns.
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What If Repositioning Isnt Enough
Most babies with flat head baby syndrome also have torticollis . These infants usually need physical therapy and home exercise programs. A physical therapist will teach you exercises and stretches to lengthen and straighten your babys neck muscles.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe a helmet for your baby, which would be measured by an orthotist . Helmets fit loosely where the head is flat and tightly where it is round. They encourage the flat area of the head to grow.
To Reduce The Risks Of Sudden Unexpected Death In Infancy Including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome And Fatal Sleep Accidents
1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult care-giver for the first six to twelve months
6. Breastfeed baby
The term Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy is now used as this term refers to all cases of sudden and unexpected death in infancy and includes deaths from the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and fatal sleeping accidents. Safe sleeping recommendations target known risk factors associated with SUDI. Where studies specifically define the population as SIDS, this specific term will be used to describe the study findings.
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Is It Okay If Baby Rolls Onto His Stomach While He’s Sleeping
It can be nerve-wracking to peer into the crib or bassinet and see that your baby has wriggled onto his tummy or side especially the first time. But dont panic: Its okay for your baby to roll over in his sleep, and if he does, you dont have to move him.
Most babies master the art of rolling over between the ages of 3 and 6 months. And once they do, many decide that they prefer to sleep on their stomachs or sides.
Thankfully, you dont have to worry about repositioning him onto his back. Once your little one is capable of rolling and changing positions easily, hes strong and agile enough to protect himself against the factors that make tummy sleeping dangerous for younger babies.
In short, babies who can roll themselves over and back are at a significantly decreased risk of SIDS, which experts believe is because babies with that ability have also developed the maturity to sense trouble during sleep and move into a safer position.
That said, even if your baby changes position at night, you should continue putting him down to sleep on his back until his first birthday.
And of course, you should continue sticking with other safe sleep guidelines like putting your baby down on a firm, flat surface and keeping the crib free of any other objects, including blankets, pillows, bumpers, loose-fitting sheets and stuffed toys.
When Should I Put My Baby On A Sleep Schedule And Establish A Routine
If it seems like you and your newborn are operating on opposite schedules, it’s probably not your imagination. But don’t bother trying to establish a soothing routine right away you both need a little time to adjust to your life together.
Once you’ve gotten used to your little one’s daily and nightly patterns, in the first month or so, you can start giving hints feeding, rocking, a soothing bath, a lullaby and a story that tell your little one it’s time to settle down, relax and hopefully fall asleep. But most babies can’t and shouldn’t be put on a sleep schedule until they’re at least around 3 or 4 months old.
You also can’t sleep train a newborn. Crying is how a newborn communicates his basic needs, and the most important lesson he needs to learn now isnt how to sleep on a schedule, but that when he cries, youll be there to comfort him even in the middle of the night when youre beyond exhausted.
When your little one is at least 4 to 6 months old, though, sleep training is an option. After all, everyone agrees that a key goal of new parenthood is a happy, well-rested baby. How you arrive at that goal is a bit more complicated.
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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.
Will A Sleep Positioner Help Keep My Baby On Their Back To Sleep And Therefore Lower The Risk Of Sids
There is no need to use any type of equipment or rolled up blankets to keep your baby in one position unless you have been advised by a health professional for a specific medical condition.
It is much safer for your baby to be in their cot with just the sheets or blankets, and no extras which could be pulled over their face or cause an accident. As babies grow stronger they learn to move and roll and this is fine. For more information, please read our clear cot advice.
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What If My Baby Is Finding It Difficult To Sleep On The Back
In many cases, infants may not be comfortable sleeping on their backs and may lack sound sleep. But, it is important for parents to get the babies used to sleeping on the back to avoid SIDS. Gradually, they will adjust and fall asleep.
Also, babies suffering from a congested nose may not feel comfortable sleeping on their backs. In such cases, place a humidifier in the babys room. This will moisten the air and loosen congestion.
Can Babies Sleep On Their Side
The side sleeping position for babies is not particularly alarming. But, recent research shows that babies who sleep on the side eventually turn on their tummy, and this increases the risk of SIDS. Babies tend to learn to roll over by the age of six months. If this is the case, you can let the baby continue to sleep on his side as the rolling over indicates strong internal organs and low risk of choking. However, if the baby rolls over to the side before six months of age, ensure you put them him in the sleep-on-the-back position.
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More Sleep Dos And Donts
Providing a safe sleep environment is just as important as making sure that the infant is in the right position.
It is crucial to ensure that the babys sleeping area has nothing that could cause suffocation or entrapment. In 2017, in the U.S. died of accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed.
A person can take the following precautions to make sure that a babys sleep is safe.
Give Your Baby A Pacifier
Giving your baby a dry, clean pacifier when you lay them down to sleep will reduce the risk of SIDS. If your baby is already asleep, dont try to give them a pacifier.
Also, if you are breastfeeding, wait until four weeks after birth to give your little one a pacifier. This will prevent nipple confusion.
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Do Pillows Help With Baby Flat Head
There are also so-called positional pillows marketed to help with flat head syndrome, to move a child off the flat spot. “We use pillows all the time for plagiocephaly in the NICU where the infant can be observed,” Taub says, adding that positional pillows are OK just so long as a parent is watching the child.
Are Some Babies More At Risk For Plagiocephaly
Premature babies are more likely to have flattened heads, because their skulls are less developed. They also spend more time lying down while healthcare providers tend to their medical needs.
Some babies may have a muscular torticollis, which is a problem with tight neck muscles. Having torticollis or a premature baby increases the chance of plagiocephaly.
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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 .
Can Sleep Positioners Help My Baby To Sleep On Back And Reduce The Risk Of Sids
FDA , a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, does not approve of sleep positioners to put infants to sleep. Using a baby sleep positioner to help babies sleep on their back could be dangerous and must be avoided.
Newborn babies are prone to SIDS and SUDI on account of incorrect sleeping positions. It is, therefore, essential to know about various sleeping positions and the risks they pose to newborn babies. Taking time out to learn this necessary information will go a long way in keeping your newborn safe and healthy.
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What If My Baby Develops A Flat Head
All this talk about sleep positions may have you wondering what to do if your baby develops a flat spot on their head.
The bottom line is this: Changing your babys sleep position and putting them down on their side or stomach is not a safe way to address head flattening. A little bit of flattening due to sleeping in the same position is normal and usually goes away with time.
One thing you can do if you are worried about your baby developing a flat head is change the crib position or the direction that your baby faces in the crib. This way, when they turn their head to look at something, it wont always be to the same side.
Its also essential that your baby has plenty of tummy time when theyre awake, gets to cuddle in your arms, and doesnt spend too much time in their car seat.
Ok But Why Is It Important To Put My Baby To Sleep On Their Back
A lot of evidence shows that lying your baby on their back to sleep significantly reduces their risk of sudden infant death syndrome .
“You should put them in this position for every single sleep or nap.”
This is because the chance of SIDS is particularly high in babies who are only sometimes placed on their front or side .
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