Developing Good Sleep Patterns for Babies
It’s easy to look longingly at the beautiful, sweet innocence of a new baby and instantly feel such excitement, love and joy; but, the truth remains that a major factor of post-partum depression is your babies’ inability to sleep through the night. Sleep deprivation is a very real and trying part of dealing with a newborn. Varying factors such as working moms, multiple siblings, lack of help, etc can also compound this issue.
The good news is that this is just a phase; this is the baby’s way of ensuring their bodies receive the right amount of nutrients necessary for growth and development. Between 3-6 months they are typically able to sleep through the night, if good sleep patterns have been established.
How can you help your baby accomplish this?
Help your baby distinguish between daytime and night time sleep hours. For example, during the day time keep the shades open so the area where baby is sleeping is well lit; whereas, at night, keep the room dark. Another tip may be to keep them un-swaddled during the day but swaddle them and keep them snug at night. Similarly daytime activities should continue as normal whereas night time should be more soothing and quiet. This helps the baby to differentiate between the time periods. If you cannot achieve quiet and a less stimulating environment at night, then white noise or baby sleep sounds may prove to be an effective tool.
Learn to recognize the cues that signal a tired baby. This will be different depending on the baby but it can include yawning, fussing or rubbing of the eyes. When you begin to notice this, start laying the baby down on a flat surface such as their crib. It should be noted that it’s much more difficult to put an over tired infant/baby/child down to sleep.
Stop waking your baby up! Once the pediatrician is satisfied with weight gain, it’s not necessary to keep waking the baby up to eat. Babies sometimes try to create their own schedule while mom and dad are busy waking them up to eat. Instead, let them develop their sleep schedule and they will cluster feed to compensate for any shortened or missed feedings. On this note, growth spurts do occur which sometimes cause babies to eat more. If this occurs at any time, do not starve your baby; listen to and observe any cues or signs of hunger.
Don’t feed baby while sleeping. It is a good idea to let the baby complete their bottle prior to falling asleep. This will allow them to learn to self soothe in order to fall asleep. It should also be stated that propping a bottle up to feed the baby while they are sleeping can lead to ear infections, cavities and even more serious; choking.
Be patient: Sleep regression can and will occur and sometimes, as soon as you have figured out the baby’s sleep pattern, it changes. Even when this idea seems farfetched or unattainable, simply try to rest when the baby does.
Naimah Shaw is the mother of five beautiful children and the owner/content creator of the parenting blog, This Beautiful Life. There you can find product reviews, articles and conversations about food, homeschooling and motherhood. We are pleased to have her as a regular contributor to Fade Away Sleep Sounds.