Some babies sleep much more than others. Some sleep for long periods, others in short bursts. Some soon sleep through the night, while some don’t for a long time. It is worth remembering that the sleepless night doesn’t last. Your baby will eventually settle into a pattern of sleeping through the night if they used to a familiar routine.
The good news is that by 3 to 6 months babies typically develop regular sleep patterns and can slumber until dawn. As your baby’s brain matures over these first few months, you’ll probably see a sleep pattern start to emerge though it may not be the pattern you want. Help your newborn establish the sleep patterns of your dreams by following these simple steps now.
Set up a Bedtime Routine
During the first weeks of life, your baby does not yet have a set day-night rhythm. You can help create this rhythm by setting regular times for going to bed and waking up. These need to allow plenty of time for sleep. The more regular hours, the stronger the sleep-wake cycle will be. This helps you predict when they need sleep. Regular hours are important for older children too.
Relax Before Bedtime
It helps to soothe and relax your baby before you put them to bed for the night. Suggestions include:
- Warm bath.
- Baby massage using baby oil.
- Cradle your baby in your arms and talk softly to them.
- Gently pat your baby on the back or bottom while they are in their cot.
Separate Eating From Sleeping
After the first month, you don’t want to let your baby fall asleep while you’re feeding or rocking her, because you want her to figure out how to put herself to sleep.
Your baby may eat a little, doze a little, and eat some more, a couple of times. If your baby goes to sleep and keeps sleeping when you’re feeding, stop and put your baby to bed.
Eat the Right Amount at the Right Time
Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make your child more alert or uncomfortable. This can make it harder for her to get to sleep. In the morning, a healthy breakfast helps to kick-start your child’s body clock at the right time.
Check Noise and Light in Your Child’s Bedroom
A quiet, dimly lit space is important for good sleep. Check whether your child’s bedroom is too light or noisy for sleep. Blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones, and tablets might suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness. It probably helps to turn these off at least one hour before bedtime and to keep screens out of your child’s room at night.
Temper the temperature in Your Baby’s Room
Not too hot and not too cold, that’s the right climate for Baby Bear’s room. Overheating may make your baby too sweaty to sleep, and it increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As for too-cold rooms, infants get chilled easily, and will likely wake up if they’re uncomfortable. To figure out if the temperature is just right for baby, feel her neck: If it’s sweaty, she’s too hot; if it’s cold to the touch, bundle her up a bit more.
Time for you
Young parenthood is greatly rewarding and exciting. But it can be a very tiring and demanding time for you. Make sure you have plenty of downtimes too. When your baby is awake, you want to be able to enjoy the interaction. Use the time your baby is sleeping to rest. Arrange with your partner to have some time off. This will mean that you will be happier, brighter and better able to cope.
Remember, getting your baby to sleep through the night isn’t a measure of your parenting skills. Take time to understand your baby’s habit and ways of communicating so that you can help him or her becomes a better sleeper.
Be prepared to change routines as your baby grows and enters different stages. And remember, growth spurts, teething, and illnesses can all affect how your baby sleeps. If you suspect that your child may have a sleep disorder, schedule an appointment now with one of our board-certified pediatricians in Fresno, CA at Pediatric California Associates.