Every baby has different sleeping habits. Some babies have a comfortable, all night long sleep pattern while others have an extremely erratic schedule in which their sleep is usually disrupted. Some babies also tend to take short naps during the day.
Sleep Time and Pattern of Babies Vary with Age. A newborn baby may spend up to 60-70 % of her time sleeping. A year old baby may spend 8-9 hours of the night sleeping, with just a nap or two during the day lasting for just a few hours. Some two year olds may periodically wake up during the night due to some reason or the other.
Ensuring a Good Night Sleep for Your Baby.
To get your baby into a sleeping pattern that is comfortable for you and the rest of the family is a process that you have to get her into. Some measures you can adopt to establish comfortable sleep patterns for your baby are discussed below.
Recognizing Sleep Demands of Your Baby. Babies usually develop their sleep patterns within the first few months. After watching your baby for some time, you begin to recognize when your baby is ready for sleep. If you regularly observe your baby, you can understand the changing sleeping patterns. Some newborn babies fall asleep as soon as they are fed, while some others just cry.
Training the Baby to Sleep. Putting your baby to sleep after recognizing the signs of readiness to sleep, in the early couple of months, make for a bedtime ritual later on. This later helps you to make your baby understand that it’s time to sleep.
Setting up the Right Sleep Environment. During the first few months, wrap your baby in a quilt and give her a comfortable feed. Dim the lights of the room and keep the temperature optimal. During your baby’s daytime naps, draw the curtains and close the doors to maintain silence. If your baby doesn’t seem to settle down, rock her gently or stroke her back and limbs.
Physical Presence of the Parent is Imperative. Sitting or lying next to your baby gives her comfort and a sense of security that helps her fall asleep faster. Do not hasten to rush away. Babies can perceive their mother’s presence really fast. Let your baby drift away into deep slumber and then move away gently without causing any disturbance.
Babies Older than 6 months Take Longer to Sleep. By the age of 6 months, babies become highly active and like to explore their surroundings. Babies at this age seek a lot of attention at bedtime. You may need to stay a while longer to settle them to sleep. You may also need to tell a story or sing to your baby before she falls asleep. Setting a bedtime ritual is good to put your baby to sleep. You can also introduce her favorite toy or pillow as a sleep companion.
Interruptions During Sleep. By the age of 9 months, babies start waking up in the middle of the night and demand your attention. The reason behind this may be fear of darkness, fear of too much silence, some other disturbance or just the need for company. A soothing word from you may put your baby back to sleep. If that doesn’t happen then you may try playing some soft relaxing music that induces sleep.
Discourage Night Feeds. Discourage nighttime feeding for babies older than 9 months. This helps them develop a healthy feeding routine. Ensure a gap of about 2 hours between your baby’s dinner and sleep time.
Older Babies Throw Tantrums. By the age of 2, babies develop a tendency to apply every sleep-delaying tactic that she can. If you have a set bedtime routine for your baby, you may have to bring about some changes in it.
Managing Hunger Pangs During Sleep. Newborn babies generally get up 2-3 times during the night for their feeds. As soon as they realize that they have been picked up by their mother for breastfeeding, they may feed just a bit and go back to sleep.
Follow a Fixed Feeding Schedule. Getting up to feed several times during the night can be tiresome for both you and your baby. Make a fixed routine for feedings. Your baby’s feeds should be small and frequent. Feed your baby every 3-4 hours during the night and keep them awake at the time of feeding. Put your baby back to sleep if you feel that her tummy is full. Wake your baby up if she doesn’t get up automatically at the time of feeding.
Practice Timely Breastfeeding. Breastfeed your baby before bedtime and during early morning once she wakes up. This way, the baby’s tummy remains full for a longer duration and you also get decent rest.
Evening Baths, Comfortable Clothes and Bedtime Stories. A late evening lukewarm tub bath is very relaxing for babies and they simply love it. Give your baby a luxurious bath and change her into a comfortable nightwear. Your baby’s nightwear should be loose, providing easy access to the nappy. Her clothing should be weather friendly. Cotton is ideal for summers and soft woolen clothes work best in winters. Follow this ritual with a nighttime story and a breast feed to keep your baby sleeping for long during the night.
Initial Efforts Build a Healthy Sleep Routine. All babies are unique and have different sleeping patterns. But long term sleeping habits in your baby is what you make for them. While all the points discussed above are few ways to establish good sleeping habits in your baby, you can explore newer ways to set your baby’s sleep pattern by simply understanding her demands. Parenting can be real fun if done with care and discipline and what can bring greater pleasure to parents than stealing a kiss from their peacefully sleeping baby.