Master The Four B’s: Bath Book Bed Bottle
“A consistent bedtime routine can work wonders. The order is up to you, but it usually involves a soothing bath, a story, and one last feeding. I also like to add a quick massage with lotion, gently squeezing and releasing the baby’s knees, wrist, elbows, and shoulders, wherever there’s a joint. Then you might do a final ‘closing up’ of the nursery: Now we turn out the light, now we start the white-noise machine, now we sway beside the crib, now I lay you downand that’s the signal that it’s time to sleep.” Nalle
The Decision Whether To Cosleep With Your Baby Is Extremely Controversialand There Are Two Sides To The Story
Few parenting conversations in early childhood elicit as much angst and judgment as the one about our childrens sleep: Where should they sleep, and how do we get them to sleep through the night? We label newborn babies as good, or not, depending on how much they disturb us in the nighttime, or we believe babies sleep is a reflection of our parenting competence.
But our beliefs and decisions about childrens sleep are more a reflection of the culture we live in than the scientific evidence for whats best for children, says anthropologist James J. McKenna, in many of his 150 scientific articles on childrens sleep. McKenna is director emeritus of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, and author of Safe Infant Sleep: Expert Answers to Your Cosleeping Questions. He has devoted his career to understanding what happens to babies and their caregivers when they sleep together versus apart.
McKennas conclusions, supported by research from other anthropologists and developmental scientists over the last 30 years, have thrown him into direct conflict with the American Academy of Pediatrics over recommendations about where babies should sleep. Separately, say the pediatricians, while McKenna and his colleagues say, Together, but safely. McKennas easy-to-read book offers important insights about how cosleeping can be made safe and what kind of benefits it might promote for childrens development and parents well-being.
What Are The Different Alert Phases Of A Newborn
Babies also have differences in how alert they are during the time they are awake. When a newborn awakens at the end of the sleep cycles, there is typically a quiet alert phase. This is a time when the baby is very still, but awake and taking in the environment. During the quiet alert time, babies may look or stare at objects, and respond to sounds and motion. This phase usually progresses to the active alert phase in which the baby is attentive to sounds and sights, and moves actively. After this phase is a crying phase. The baby’s body moves erratically, and he or she may cry loudly. Babies can easily be overstimulated during the crying phase. It is usually best to find a way of calming the baby and the environment. Holding a baby close or swaddling may help calm a crying baby.
It is usually best to feed babies before they reach the crying phase. During the crying phase, they can be so upset that they may refuse the breast or bottle. In newborns, crying is a late sign of hunger.
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When To Expect Babies To Sleep Through The Night
Some babies will start sleeping for longer stretches between 4 and 6 months, but sleeping through the night typically occurs after 6 months, says Danny Lewin, Ph.D., associate director of pediatric sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Babies can better reach this milestone after you eliminate nighttime feedings, which usually occurs around 6 months. It may be delayed for breastfeeding babies because they metabolize breast milk relatively quickly and require more frequent feedings.
Also, just because your baby is capable of getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep doesn’t mean he will. Every baby is different and will do things on her own timeline.
Note that even if your baby has been sleeping through the night for weeks or months, she may still have trouble at times. Some developmental milestones can be associated with disrupted sleepyou may find your baby perfecting her crawling or sitting skills in the middle of the night! To reduce her need for nightly drills, make sure she gets lots of time to practice during the day. Other issuessuch as illness, teething, traveling, and changes in the homemay also affect your baby’s sleep. Talk to your pediatrician about any concerns you may have.
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Coping With Disturbed Nights
Newborn babies invariably wake up repeatedly in the night for the first few months, and disturbed nights can be very hard to cope with.
If you have a partner, ask them to help. If you’re formula feeding, encourage your partner to share the feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your partner to take over the early morning changing and dressing so you can go back to sleep.
Once you’re into a good breastfeeding routine, your partner could occasionally give a bottle of expressed breast milk during the night. If you’re on your own, you could ask a friend or relative to stay for a few days so you can get some sleep.
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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.
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References: Finding The Right Infant Sleep Aid
American Academy of Pediatrics. 1997. Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics 100 : 1035-1039.
Anders TF. 1979. Night waking in infants during the first year of life. Pediatrics 63: 860-864.
Anders TF, Halpern LF, and Hua J. 1992. Sleeping through the night: A developmental perspective. Pediatrics 90: 554-560.
Anuntaseree W, Mo-Suwan L, Vasiknanonte P, Kuasirikul S, Ma-A-Lee A, and Choprapawan C. 2007. Night waking in Thai infants at 3 months of age: Association between parental practices and infant sleep. Sleep Med. 2007 Sep 25 .
Barr RG, Pantel MS, Young SN, Wright JH, Hendricks LA, Gravel R. 1999. The response of crying newborns to sucrose: is it a sweetness effect? Physiol. Behav 66: 409-417.
Bellesi M, Riedner BA, Garcia-Molina GN, Cirelli C, Tononi G. 2014. Enhancement of sleep slow waves: underlying mechanisms and practical consequences. Front Syst Neurosci. 8:208.
Blass EM. 1997a Milk-induced hypoanalgesia in human newborns. Pediatrics 99: 825-829.
Blass EM. 1997b. Infant formula quiets crying newborns. Journal of Dev Behavioral Pediatrics. 18:162-165.
Blass EM and Watt LB. 1999. Suckling- and sucrose-induced analgesia in human newborns. Pain. 83:611-23.
Butler R, Moore M, Mindell JA. 2016. Pacifier Use, Finger Sucking, and Infant Sleep. Behav Sleep Med. 14:615-23.
Campos RG. 1994. Rocking and pacifier use: Two comforting interventions for heel stick pain. Res Nurse Health 17: 321-331.
Image credits for The infant sleep aid
Lighten Up On Summer Nights
On warm nights, keep it light and breezy a basic short-sleeve cotton or organic-cotton bodysuit or T-shirt with a muslin or cotton swaddle or sleep sack layered on top is fine.
A bodysuit or tee on its own is also OK if its particularly sweltering. Of course, if you have the air conditioner pumping, you can probably stick with cotton long-sleeve pajamas with footies.
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Can Babies And Toddlers Overheat
Yes, babies and toddlers can overheat at night. Any time you add layers to your childs sleepwear, make sure to check that they are not too hot. The AAP recommends head coverings not be used to help prevent overheating.
Materials such as cotton, muslin, and bamboo-derived viscose are breathable choices for sleepwear. A good test to see if your baby is too hot is to feel their neck or upper back, just under their pajamas or swaddle. If they feel hot, clammy or sweaty, they are too hot and a layer should be removed.
How Should Babies Sleep
During the first weeks of a baby’s life, some parents choose to room-share. Room-sharing is when you place your baby’s crib, portable crib, play yard, or bassinet in your own bedroom instead of in a separate nursery. This keeps baby nearby and helps with feeding, comforting, and monitoring at night. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing without bed-sharing.
Follow these recommendations for a safe sleep environment for your little one:
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How Do I Make Sure My Baby Gets The Right Amount Of Sleep
Overstimulation during the day can cause your baby to either sleep too little or sleep when they should be eating, due to exhaustion. Newborn babies need to be fed frequently to ensure proper development.
If your newborn baby becomes overtired they will become fussy, and harder to settle for sleep. We’ve given age-targeted tips to help avoid overstimulation and improve your baby’s sleep in the sleep schedules below. For more information on how much sleep your baby needs and how long they should be sleeping at a time read How Much Do Newborns Sleep?
Learning your baby’s sleep cycle
While your baby has your nose or eyes, the two of you couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to sleep cycle! The main reason your newborn’s sleep patterns are unpredictable is because of their evolving sleep cycle.
Adults can easily pass from one sleep cycle into the next without completely waking up. Newborns, however, don’t stay in deep sleep for long periods at a time, so they are more susceptible to frequent wake-ups. Our post, Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle, explains more in-depth about how your baby’s sleep cycle is linked to their sleep patterns.
To learn more about the changes to your baby’s sleep cycle and how to cope with sleep regression, read our post 10 Tips to Surviving the 4 Month Sleep Regression.
Where Should My Baby Sleep During The Daytime
Actually, the same rules apply during the daytime as they do at night. Ideally, for the first six months, your baby will sleep in their Moses basket or cot in the same room as you even for their daytime naps .
“In reality, babies often fall asleep in the car seat, pram or buggy, sling or anywhere they get comfy and fancy a snooze.”
There can be downsides to those unexpected snoozes though. For example, your baby might overheat if theyre dressed for the cold outside but then theyre moved inside. Remember to remove any extra layers if that happens and choose outer clothes with zips to make this easier .
If your baby is very young, dont let them sleep in their car seat for more than 90 minutes . If you arrive home when theyve dozed off in there, transfer them over to a Moses basket.
And if your baby is in a soft sling, especially if they are under three months old, make sure you can always see their face. Following the T.I.C.K.S. guidelines can help to keep them safe.
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They Don’t Know Day From Night
When infants are born, their circadian rhythm lacks development because for nine months your child was bundled up inside of a dark womb. Night and day mean nothing to them because in the womb, it didn’t matter. When they emerge they have no concept of this and, as a result, will take a bit of time to adjust.
To help develop this cognitive function, it may help to employ a few tricks to encourage sleep. Things like darkness and soft noise can help children to sleep and spur the adjustment of their internal clocks.
It can help to keep their bedroom very dark so when they’re inside it’s easier to sleep. Investing in blackout curtains may sound like a pain, but they come at a variety of prices and can be installed by even the clumsiest of humans.
Additionally, white noise machines for babies are known to help as well. You’d be surprised how loud the inside of a womb is, and it can remind them of this cozy time inside.
Why Is My Baby Gassy
Some parents report that their newborn will not allow them to put them down. They will only sleep on them or in a carrier. These babies are NOT flexible about where they sleep. Is this personality? Possibly, but it could be that this baby is uncomfortable and being upright and close to a parent is soothing. Having reflux, being gassy or having a sensitive tummy are common reasons I see for refusing to be put down. Babies who are gassy are often uncomfortable all the time, not just at night. Parents often report that she will ONLY sleep on someone.
Signs of gas include a lot of wriggling, arching bag and grunting. Some babies may visibly be trying to âpush.â
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Dont Let Your Baby Overheat
How should you dress baby for sleep? Simple is safest. Put your baby in a base layer like a one-piece sleeper, and skip the socks, hats or other accessories. Instead of a blanket, use a sleep sack or swaddle. Shell be warm enough but not too warm.
And dont worry about cranking up the heat. A room temperature of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit is best. To tell whether your baby is too warm, feel the nape of her neck. If she’s sweating, shes too hot.
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. 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.
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