Helping Your Newborn Sleep
Newborns follow their own schedule. Over the next couple of weeks to months, you and your baby will begin to settle into a routine.
It may take a few weeks for your baby’s brain to know the difference between night and day. Unfortunately, there are no tricks to speed this up, but it helps to keep things quiet and calm during middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes. Try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play with or talk to your baby. This will send the message that nighttime is for sleeping. If possible, let your baby fall asleep in the crib at night so your little one learns that it’s the place for sleep.
Don’t try to keep your baby up during the day in the hopes that he or she will sleep better at night. Overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who’ve had enough sleep during the day.
If your newborn is fussy it’s OK to rock, cuddle, and sing as your baby settles down. Swaddling can also help to soothe a crying baby. For the first months of your baby’s life, “spoiling” is definitely not a problem.
Put Baby To Sleep On Her Back
You should always put your baby to sleep flat on her back on a firm, flat surface at naptime and bedtime until her first birthday. Tummy sleeping puts infants at risk for suffocation or overheating and increases the chance of SIDS.
Once your baby is able to roll over on her own while she’s sleeping, from stomach to back and from back to tummy, its fine to let her keep sleeping that way. Babies can typically roll over between 3 and 6 months, but it can happen earlier , so keep a close eye on her.
If it seems like your newborn has rolled onto her side, thats probably her reflexes at work. Shell likely lose the ability to do that by the time shes a month old.
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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Risks By Age In Months
The main risk of putting a baby to sleep on their side is that they will fall onto their stomach. When a baby is too young to support their head, this may mean that their face becomes stuck against the mattress, making it hard to breathe. Most babies can fully support and lift the head by the age of 4 months.
By about 3 or 4 months of age, many babies begin trying to roll over. Between 4 and 6 months, many can roll from their back to their stomach and then back again.
There is no need to roll a baby onto their back if they roll onto their side or stomach. A baby who can move into this position can turn out of it, as long as they are in a safe sleeping environment.
At about 6 months of age, many babies become more active sleepers, rolling throughout the night. However, it is still unsafe to put the baby to sleep on their side or stomach. If a baby rolls into this position, however, there is no need to wake or move them.
How To Change Baby Sleeping Positions
Some babies sleep better on their stomach or side. In fact, this is what can make these positions so dangerous. Babies enter deeper sleep for longer and may be more difficult to awaken. They may not wake up if they cannot breathe or need to move.
The simplest way to change a babyâs sleep position is to begin putting them to sleep on their back. Parents and caregivers may need to help the baby slowly adapt to this new position by nursing them to sleep before bed, gently rubbing their belly, singing to them while they fall asleep, or rocking them.
People should not use devices that hold a baby in position or prevent them from rolling. actually increase the risk of SIDS because a baby may suffocate against the device. Restraining a babyâs movement may even prevent them from rolling out of an unsafe position.
Instead, it is best to focus on putting the baby to sleep on their back.
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Dont Buy Those Cute Crib Bumper Sets You See On Blogs And In Catalogs
This ones pretty easy to follow: dont use crib bumpers. They are a SIDS risk, the sale of them is even banned in some US states, and doctors have been lobbying against crib bumpers for years. Yes, some babies flail around a lot in their sleep, especially when theyre on the verge of learning to roll, crawl, or walk. But they probably wont seriously injure themselves by bumping their heads on a crib rail. While those breathable mesh bumpers do a good job of keeping soothers from poking out of the crib slats, they are not recommended due to the risk of entanglement and strangulation. And while were at it, you shouldnt use a DockATot or infant lounger for unsupervised sleep inside the crib, either. Theyre technically no longer available in Canada, but similar products are still on the market.
Safe Sleep Practices For Infants
Practice the ABCs of safe sleep: Babies should always sleep Alone, on their Backs, in a Crib. Place your baby on his or her back for every sleep, night time and nap time.
Do not put your baby to sleep on his side or tummy.
Once your baby can roll from his back to tummy and tummy to back, your baby can stay in the sleep position that he assumes. But always place your baby to sleep on his back.
Place your baby on a firm mattress in a safety-approved crib with slats no greater than 2-3/8 inches apart.
Make sure your babys face and head stay uncovered and clear of blankets and other coverings during sleep. If a blanket is used make sure your baby is placed feet-to-foot in the crib. Remove all pillows from the crib.
Create a smoke-free-zone around your baby.
Avoid overheating during sleep and maintain your babys bedroom at a temperature comfortable for an average adult.
Remove all mobiles and hanging crib toys by about the age of 5 months, when your baby begins to pull up in the crib.
Remove crib bumpers by about 12 months, when your baby can begin to climb
For additional safe sleep practices for infants including information and video on choking, making a safe home environment, resources, swaddling and tummy time, click here.
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Why Do Some Babies Sleep In The Fencing Reflex Position When Sleeping On The Back
Fencing reflex is also known as the Tonic Neck reflex. It is one of the many involuntary movements exhibited by infants while sleeping. In this case, when a baby is put to sleep on his back, the babys head turns to one side with the arms and legs extended to the same side. This prevents the baby from rolling from their back position to stomach. It must be noted that this self-precautionary movement will disappear anytime between 3 to 6 months of age.
Mittens To Prevent Scratching
One thing that continues to surprise me is how fast baby fingernails grow. It probably has something to do with their diet of 100% milk plus vitamins. Clipping your babys fingernails is an exercise in courage and takes nerves of steel. When your little one gets a little older and can grab at things, youll know their nails are long because theyll scratch you.
In the meantime, if you start finding scratches on your babys face or head, it was probably self-inflicted while he or she was sleeping. Until you have the time and bravery to trim them, a set of soft little sleep mittens will prevent any more scratches. These are inexpensive and often come in packs of four, which is good because theyre easily lost .
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Why Do Babies Suffer From Regurgitation
Regurgitation in infants occurs because their digestive system is still in the process of developing and, therefore, still immature.
The main culprit for regurgitation is the cardia, a valve which connects the stomach and oesophagus and closes once food has passed through, this prevents stomach contents from coming back up. As the cardia valve is not yet closed properly in infants, a backflow of milk occurs
This is why, in most cases, regurgitation is only a temporary problem that disappears on its own once the baby is a few months old.
Regurgitation usually happens immediately after feeding, but it can sometimes occur a few hours following a feed. In the first instance, any milk that is posseted will be more of a liquid as it has not yet been digested, in the second case, however, it will be more solid and frothy.
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.
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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.
Tips For Safe Baby Sleep
For babies who are healthy and under one year of age, sleeping on the back is the ideal position. However, some extra measures would be helpful to ensure safe sleep for your baby .
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What To Do If My Baby Has Difficulty Sleeping On The Back
A few infants may not have a deep sleep in the back-to-sleep position. Some may even become fussy when placed on the back.
The baby may not feel comfortable sleeping on the back if they have a congested nose. In such a case, place a humidifier in the babys room to moisten the air and loosen the congestion. Elevating the head slightly could minimize the discomfort from a stuffy nose.
Harmless And Preventable: Flat Head
You may have heard that letting your baby sleep on their back or in only one position can cause a flat or an oddly shaped head, medically known as plagiocephaly.
Its true that babies are born with softer skulls. They also have weak neck muscles in the early months of life. This means that sleeping in one position back or a particular side for too long may cause some flattening.
This is totally normal and usually goes away by itself. There are also several ways to prevent flat spots from happening in the first place.
Lay your baby on their back for nap time or sleeping. You might notice that they turn their head to look at something interesting rather than just the wall. To see this in action, just place a toy or something bright outside never inside at this age the crib or bassinet.
Keep the view but change your babys head position by alternating positions in the crib, especially if the crib is against a wall:
- Place your baby with their head at the head of the crib.
- The next day, place your baby with their head at the foot of the crib. Theyll likely turn their head the other way to maintain the view into the room.
- Continue alternating in this way.
- Remove any overhead hanging mobile toys so your baby looks to the side and not straight up.
- Check to make sure your baby is lying or sleeping on their back, but has their face turned towards the room.
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