Some moms have all the luck in the world with their newborn little angels sleeping soundly right through the night from just a few weeks. But this is rather the exception than the norm!
There are many different reasons a baby will wake during the night and have difficulty falling back to sleep, from fighting sleep to just being wide awake and thinking it is time to play. This can have devastating effects for mom, because although baby will catch up on his lost sleep during the day, it’s not always possible for moms to do the same. Sleep deprivation can lead to all sorts of problems and can even be linked to depression.
Day-night clock in sync
So it’s vital for you to try to get your baby’s day-night clock in sync and there are several ways you can attempt this. Newborn babies will generally sleep for around 16 hours a day, sometimes more, but usually in periods of just a few hours at a time. This pattern may be erratic in the early days but a more regular pattern of sleep will emerge as your baby grows and can go for longer periods between feeds.
By the age of three months, many babies sleep for at least five hours at a time. And by the age of six months, night time periods of sleep can stretch between nine and 12 hours.
A healthy sleep pattern
Although middle of the night sleep interruptions are par for the course as baby will need to be fed you can still start encouraging a healthy sleep pattern from day one. Be sure to actively stimulate your baby during the day with song and dance, playing and chatting. This will help him use up his energy and therefore be able to enjoy a good rest at night.
Babies need routine. We all know they function so much better with a healthy dose of routine and structure. So give this to him, especially by following a consistent bedtime routine. Try not to break this routine.
When your baby needs care or a feed in the middle of the night, use dim lights, a gentle voice and soothing movements. Your baby will learn that this is not a time to play. When baby naps during the day, make sure it’s in a well-lit room so that he doesn’t sleep for too long and thereby interfere with his night time sleep routine.
It is important to develop a realistic attitude about night time parenting. Sleeping, like eating, is not something you can force a baby into doing. One of the best things you can actually do is create a safe environment where your baby feels secure enough to drift off into dreamland.
This will go far in helping your baby develop a healthy attitude towards sleep into his adult years, stemming from the lesson that sleep is a safe and pleasant place to go to. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude about sleep – that sleep was not a great state to enter and was a fearful place to stay in.
You have the power to ensure your baby never experiences those insecurities and therefore, and does not grow up experiencing sleep problems.