Helping Your Baby Sleep Better
Your baby’s sleep patterns will differ as she grows. Learn about your newborn’s evolving sleep requirements and how to ensure that she gets the quality sleep she needs.
Babies are just like us; they have specific sleep requirements too. In infant sleep studies, the term “all night” is usually defined as five hours. If it seems challenging to get your baby to have five hours of uninterrupted sleep, here are some steps you can try out to help both you and your baby sleep well.
Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Requirements
During this period, your baby may sleep a lot. The duration of your baby’s sleep ranges from 10 to 18 hours a day, with each sleep period stretching to three to four hours. However, babies do not know how to differentiate day from night. Thus, they sleep with no regards to time. Sometimes, they may be wide-awake from 1am to 5am.
By the time babies are three to six months old, many babies will be able to sleep for an uninterrupted six hours. Later, when your baby is at six to nine months of age, she should have a more consistent sleep routine. Nevertheless, normal developmental stages can disrupt this sleep routine. For example, your baby may learn to link bedtime to being alone. She may start crying during bedtime, just to have you near.
Your newborn will also tend to prioritize eating over sleeping during his first two months. He may want to feed every two hours if you breastfeed.
Setting a Bedtime Routine
Habitual bedtime routines can help babies grow accustomed to the process of falling asleep when it’s time for bed. Research shows that babies who adhere to a habitual bedtime routine are more inclined to fall asleep in an easier manner, get better quality sleep and cry less during the night.
You can begin to implement a bedtime routine for your baby at an early age of six to eight weeks old. Your baby’s bedtime routine can involve any consistent and suitable bedtime activities. For instance, giving your baby a warm and soothing bath right before bedtime. When designating a bedtime routine for your little one, keep these few things in mind:
Learning About Your Baby’s Tired Signs
Tuck your baby in as soon as she displays signs that she is tired. These signs may vary: she may become very quiet, display lack of attention to people and toys, or throw tantrums.
Modifying Feeding and Sleeping Time
Slowly, your baby will start to sleep longer between feeds. If your baby happens to sleep for more than four hours between feeds during the day, you can gently wake her up to offer a feed. Since you have interrupted the supposedly longer sleep period, your baby will then sleep longer during the night. However, be patient if your baby is not ready to modify her sleep pattern.
Try implementing a 10 or 15-minute massage session for your baby as part of his bedtime routine. A research carried out by Miami University showed that infants and toddlers, who were massaged 15 minutes before bedtime on a daily basis for a month, happened to fall asleep more effortlessly.
The comforting, recurring sounds of conventional lullabies may remind your baby of the ‘womb music’ she has heard before birth. ‘Womb music’ is correlated to the sound of your heartbeat and fluids moving across the placenta. Thus, baby music that combines elements like the maternal heartbeat rhythm or ‘white noise’ has been known to provide significant pacifying results, especially if the music is played nonstop, all through the night.
The movement from being carried in a sling or a rocking chair is able to calm babies to sleep. A baby hammock can also do the same. As your baby moves around in his sleep during the night, his movements will get the hammock swaying, soothing the baby back to sleep in the process.
Ease Up Startle Reflexes
Startle reflexes can occur in your baby’s sleep, creating impulsive and shuddering movements that would wake him up. Help provide a sense of reassurance for your baby by wrapping him securely in a gauze or muslin sheet. Wrap loosely and eventually remove the wrap as soon as this reflex withdraws by around three months of age.
If you consume caffeine when you are breastfeeding, your baby gets a share of that caffeine through your milk too. This may cause her to become edgy when bedtime comes, making it difficult for you to put her to sleep. So cut off caffeine or drink coffee sparingly during the day.
Day and Night Difference
Teach your baby the difference between night and day. You can do so by dimming the lights, and speaking in low tones during night feeds. Reserve play and lively activity for daytime.
Research has shown that mothers and babies who co-sleep happen to share similar sleep cycles. Hence, these mothers are able get more sleep too. Do remember to take steps to reduce SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) when you co-sleep. Position your baby to sleep on his or her back and keep your baby’s head exposed. You should also use a firm mattress for the baby to lie on.
Leave Your Scent
Slip your own soft, unwashed t-shirt that has your scent on it, over your baby’s mattress. While it may not be an exact substitute of you, it is sufficient to comfort your baby with your familiar smell as he sleeps.