The arrival of a newborn baby is a life-changing experience filled with joy, excitement, and wonder. However, it can also be a time of uncertainty and sleep deprivation for new parents. While there is no definitive manual on how to navigate life with a newborn, having some understanding of newborn sleep patterns can alleviate unnecessary worry and help parents make informed decisions about how to manage baby sleep problems.
Fortunately, there is an effective solution to deal with baby sleep problems and establishing a bedtime routine. Creating a simple and soothing routine can work wonders in preparing your baby for a restful night’s sleep. Moreover, implementing a consistent bedtime routine can potentially help prevent baby sleep problems from escalating as your baby grows older.
Beyond the immediate benefits of improved sleep, a bedtime routine also fosters a stronger bond between you and your child. It offers the perfect opportunity for quality one-on-one bonding time, allowing you to cherish those precious moments with your little one. Stick to your baby sleep schedule no matter what. If you have friends overstaying, excuse yourself or chase them away, they will understand.
So, how can you develop and nurture an effective bedtime routine for your baby?
Begin by setting and sticking to a regular baby sleep schedule and follow a sequence of calming activities before putting your child to bed. This might include a gentle massage followed by a warm bath. After this, lay the baby down in her cradle and narrate a bedtime story, or even sing a lullaby. Your voice will soothe the baby and lull her into sleep. The key is to maintain consistency and keep the routine relatively short, signalling to your baby that it’s time to wind down, relax and fall asleep.
As your baby becomes familiar with the baby sleep schedule, she’ll come to associate these activities with sleep, making it easier for her to settle down at night. Over time, the bedtime routine will become a comforting and predictable experience for both you and your child, rminimiaing sleep disruptions and creating a more peaceful night-time ambience.
While sleepless nights can be a challenging aspect of parenting, establishing a bedtime routine offers a powerful solution. It not only helps your baby sleep better now but also lays the foundation for a good sleep habit for babies.
Moreover, the baby sleep schedule will deepen your connection with your little one, creating lasting memories and fostering a loving bond that will benefit both of you in the years to come.
So, embrace the bedtime routine as a time of tranquillity and togetherness, and watch as
it transforms your nights and enhances your parenting journey.
Know about newborn’s sleep
Babies have distinct sleep patterns that differ from those of older children and adults. Understanding these patterns can provide parents with insights into their newborn’s needs and help develop and establish effective ways to deal with their baby’s sleep.
Remember, newborns have shorter sleep cycles compared to adults. They typically spend equal amounts of time in active sleep (rapid eye movement or REM sleep) and quiet sleep (non-REM sleep). These cycles last for about 50-60 minutes in the early weeks, gradually lengthening as the baby grows.
As babies have smaller stomachs, they require frequent feedings, leading to more frequent waking during the night. It’s normal for them to wake up every few hours to be fed, changed, or comforted. Understanding this can help parents anticipate their baby’s needs and adjust their own sleep patterns.
Often, newborns have their days and nights mixed up initially. They may sleep longer stretches during the day and be more awake and alert at night. To help establish a healthy sleep-wake cycle, exposing the baby to natural light during the day and keeping the environment dim and quiet at night can be very helpful.
Newborns take short and frequent naps throughout the day. They may nap for 30 minutes to a few hours at a time. Encouraging daytime napping in a calm and soothing environment can help prevent overtiredness and promote better night-time sleep.
How much sleep is too much?
There’s no way of predicting when a newborn will sleep, but as your baby gets older, she can develop a routine. Here is a rough guide to sleep requirements at different stages:
- Most newborns spend more time asleep than awake and have no distinction between night and day. They wake up to feed multiple times during the night, and their total daily sleep can vary from 8 to 18 hours.
- 3 to 6 months old babies require fewer night feeds and can sleep for longer periods. Typically, they sleep between 12 to 14 hours throughout the day and night.
- Around 6 months, babies usually drop their night feed and start sleeping through the night for up to 12 hours. They may also take two daytime naps, each lasting up to 2 hours.
After the first birthday, babies generally sleep for about 12 to 15 hours a day. This includes 10-12 hours at night and usually two daytime naps, each lasting 1-2 hours.
Tips that can be of great help
In the beginning, a baby will sleep, wake, and feed instinctively. However, after a few weeks, you can start introducing basic concepts like night and day, which will be helpful in developing a more structured routine as they grow.
Create a soothing routine before bedtime. When your baby reaches around 3 or 4 months old, you can establish a consistent bedtime routine that will facilitate sleep training later on. This routine can help calm your baby and prevent future sleep issues.
Teach your baby about the distinction between night and day. It’s never too early to help your infant understand that nighttime is different from daytime. During the day, keep the curtains open and engage in playtime between naps.
There’s no need to maintain complete silence while your baby naps during the day; a little background noise is acceptable. During nighttime, dim the lights, speak softly, refrain from playing with your baby, and minimize nocturnal diaper changes. Consider using highly absorbent diapers to keep your baby dry throughout the night.
Put your baby to bed while she is drowsy but still awake. To help your baby become accustomed to falling asleep with minimal comforting, try placing her in the crib before she is fully asleep or shortly after a feeding. This technique may be more effective after approximately 3 months when your baby is spending more time awake and alert. Experts recommend sharing a room with your baby for at least the first six months.
There is one aspect that you should bear in mind though. Parents of newborns often experience a myriad of frustrations that can be at times overwhelming and challenging to navigate. While every parent’s experience is unique, there are common frustrations that many parents face.
Be prepared to deal with frustrations
Recognizing that frustrations are normal and seeking support from professionals, friends, and family can go a long way in helping you navigate the challenges of caring for your baby. It’s important for you to be patient, practice self-compassion, and remember that with time, both you and your baby will adjust and settle into a more predictable and manageable routine.
Sleep deprivation: One of the most common and exhausting frustrations for new parents is the lack of sleep. Babies often have irregular sleep patterns, waking up frequently during the night. This is energy-sapping and tiring. To address this, you can consider taking turns with your partner or enlisting the help of family members or friends to provide some relief.
Feeding challenges: Many parents face difficulties when it comes to feeding their newborns, whether it’s with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Breastfeeding can be particularly challenging due to lactating issues, soreness, or low milk supply. Seeking support from a lactation consultant or joining a breastfeeding support group can provide valuable guidance and reassurance. For bottle-feeding, finding the right formula and involving yourself with proper sterilization and preparation can reduce feeling frustrated.
Crying and soothing: Newborns communicate through crying, and deciphering the reasons behind their cries can be frustrating for parents. It can be distressing to feel helpless when a baby continues to cry despite efforts to comfort them. Parents can try different soothing techniques, such as swaddling, gentle rocking, or using white noise. Exploring resources like online forums, or attending parenting classes can offer strategies and provide the support you are seeking.
Lack of personal time: Adjusting to the demands of a newborn can leave parents with little time for themselves or their personal needs. The constant care and attention required by the baby can make parents feel overwhelmed and disconnected from their own interests or self-care routines. It’s crucial for parents to prioritize self-care and establish a support system. Enlisting the help of family or friends to watch the baby for short periods can provide some much-needed personal time.
Changes in relationships: The arrival of a newborn can put a strain on the relationship between parents, especially as they navigate the challenges of parenting together. The shift in responsibilities, sleep deprivation, and overall adjustment can lead to increased stress and conflicts. Maintaining open and honest communication, and expressing appreciation for each other’s efforts can assist in managing these challenges.
Comparison and judgment: Parents often face societal pressure and judgment, both in person and through social media, which can heighten feelings of frustration and self-doubt. It’s important for parents to remember that every child and family is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. Building a supportive network of like-minded parents or joining parenting groups where experiences are shared without judgment can provide a valuable sense of community and reassurance.
Lack of routine and predictability: Newborns typically thrive on routines, but establishing a consistent schedule can be challenging in the early months. The unpredictability of their sleep and feeding patterns can make it difficult for parents to plan their day or regain a sense of normalcy. While it may take time for a routine to develop, parents can focus on creating small rituals or consistent elements within their daily activities to provide some structure.
The ups and downs of sleep training
Embarking on the journey of sleep training your little one can have its ups and downs. There are a few unexpected hurdles that might temporarily pause your sleep training adventure.
Imagine this: just as you’re starting to make progress, a surprise illness pays a visit to your child’s tiny
body. It’s as if the universe conspired to throw a wrench in your sleep training plans. Your little one feels under the weather, needing extra care and attention.
During this time, it’s perfectly okay to hit the pause button on sleep training. Focus on nurturing your child back to health, comforting her through these tough times, and once she recovers, you can resume your efforts with renewed determination.
And then some, just when you thought you had everything under control, a new tooth decides to make its grand entrance. Teething can be a real challenge for both babies and parents alike. Disrupted sleep, discomfort, and irritability become the order of the day.
When your little one is in the throes of teething, it’s essential to be understanding and provide the extra cuddles and soothing she needs. So, it’s alright to temporarily set aside your sleep training plans until the toothy eruption settles down.
Then there are those sudden surges in physical development that can throw a wrench into any routine you’d like to implement. During these growth spurts, your child’s body is working hard to reach new milestones, which can lead to increased hunger, restlessness, and even more frequent night awakenings.
It’s crucial to adapt to these changing needs and offer the nourishment and reassurance your child requires. So, if your little one seems to be going through a growth spurt, don’t be discouraged — pause the sleep training for a while and focus on providing the support she needs to thrive.
Finally, don’t forget about separation anxiety — a natural phase that many children experience as they grow. When separation anxiety kicks in, your child may become clingy, and anxious, and have difficulty falling asleep without your presence.
During such moments, it’s vital to offer your child comfort, reassurance, and a sense of security. Take some extra time to bond and create a soothing bedtime routine that gradually eases her into sleep. Once her anxiety subsides, you can resume your sleep training journey.
Remember, the road to successful sleep training is not always a straight path. Unexpected obstacles may arise, such as illness, teething, growth spurts, or separation anxiety. These detours are temporary and part of your child’s development. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges with patience and flexibility, you’ll pave the way for a more peaceful and restful sleep journey for both you and your little one. Happy nights!!
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