For most new parents, the words baby and sleep do not go together, especially during the first few months of life. Although newborns sleep about 16 hours a day it is usually 3-4 hours at a time. This is because their tummies are so tiny and can only hold a small amount; therefore, they need to be fed every few hours. Newborns have no sense of day or night and wake according to hunger needs. This can quickly result in frustration and sleep deprivation for parents.
Some research indicates that parents lose around 2 hours of sleep each night during the first 4-5 months. The good news is that as a baby grows, longer sleep patterns begin to form. Eventually, parents begin to see infant sleep patterns that are more like their own. Even better news is that by 6 months most parents see their baby sleeping through the night, although it might be a 6 hour night.
Baby and Sleep … OK, so how do you get there?
First, be consistent when it comes to your baby and sleep. There are several things that can be done to help your infant establish proper sleeping habits. Here are a few of them.
Teach them where to sleep. Try to put your baby in the same place each time. If you are consistent with where (and when) they sleep they will soon make an association. For most people this place is the crib.
Teach them the difference between day and night. Try to keep your house bright and stimulating during the day. This is the time to play and interact with your baby. Sing or talk while feeding during this time. Don’t darken rooms during the day, even for naps. At night try to keep it relaxed, quiet, and dark.
Establish a simple bedtime plan. Once again, be consistent and keep it simple. This routine might be feeding your infant, giving them a bath, dressing them for bed, and singing to them. This plan should be made according to you and your baby and followed each night. Understandably, there will be a time when you won’t be able to follow this precisely. Just don’t allow yourself to fall off of this plan. You are trying to teach your baby that this routine signifies bedtime so don’t break it on a regular basis because this can confuse the baby.
Please note that all this takes time so do not expect immediate results. Be patient and persistent. Remember that what you do the first several weeks tends to become habit. Also remember that each baby is very different and doesn’t always follow the “general rule” or researched studies. They are miraculously individual and you should always adjust any and all information according to that very fact.
Baby and Sleep – Making the Right Decisions
There is no greater or more rewarding job than to be a parent. This is a love story of unconditional proportions in the making. There is also no job more difficult than caring for your infant. Do the best you can each day and don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t go exactly by the book. Research, read and ask a million questions. You will be able to make the right decisions when it comes to your new baby and sleep.