Babies are notorious for bringing on the most adorable experience of sleepless nights. Babies sleep, but not for long and just have a knack for waking up when you’re thinking of catching some shut eye.
Experts say baby will sleep for up to 18 hours out of every 24 in his first few weeks. But he won’t sleep for more than one hour to three hours at a time, day or night, as he will need frequent feeds. This means that you can expect some sleepless nights, especially at first. Thankfully, it is just a phase your baby needs to move through and it won’t last long, but can feel like eternity.
That popular admonition to sleep when baby sleeps is easier spoken than practised, but I kid you not when I say it’s one of the best ways to get some sleep during the first three months of baby’s life.
At least, it worked wonders for my University name sake, with whom I don’t really share a name but someone in the record’s office keeps switching our names on official documents, just because we follow each other on the list. When she celebrated her son’s third month of life, she gushed about the wonders of motherhood and how the sleepless night was the real deal, until she decided to take the “sleep when he sleeps” mantra to heart and just do it.
In the end, she was the better one for it, because by three months, he was sleeping for most of the night, which meant more sleeping hours for her.
In getting a new born, who is not sleeping as much as it should, to sleep, here are a few tips from experts that can help:
Create the right environment:
A common misconception is that babies should be taught to sleep through loud noises. I lived through that experience some years back, while a family friend was pregnant. She insisted that the baby needed to get used to loud noise because their house, which was a family house, had lots of people and noise by extension.
She started right from the womb, and it worked, as the baby, when she was born, peacefully slept through all the noise and drama that went on around her.
However, this is not something that will work for everybody, not when you have a sensitive baby. It is best to create a sleep attractive atmosphere with white noise, blackout curtains, and cool air.
Feed baby before putting him to sleep
In some cases, babies and toddlers are sent to sleep hours after their last meal. Amy Bassett, a sleep consultant says this can be a big mistake for babies who have a hard time sleeping.
A baby going to bed on a full stomach is one way to help extend naps, and get a longer stretch of sleep overnight, she revealed.
The sleep consultant however warned against feeding baby till he falls asleep.
Put baby to bed when drowsy, not asleep
This is a tall order, especially for breastfeeding moms, but once you master the timing, both you and baby will rest easier.
Babies who drift off on their own are more likely to learn to soothe themselves to sleep, says Kim West, a sleep consultant and author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight.
Try to put your baby to bed as she’s quieting down, just before she nods off, not when she had nodded off.
Stick to a wake up routine and time
Sometimes the secret to better sleep for babies and parents is as simple as setting a wake up time, and sticking to it.
When babies wake up at very different times each day, sleep experts say it makes it difficult for their internal clocks to operate as designed.
Although parents may enjoy sleeping in an extra hour or two on those occasions when baby decides to sleep in, allowing your baby to oversleep can lead to chaotic sleep cycles and chronic fatigue.
For a longer-term success, try establishing a set wake-up time and then do your best to stick to it.
Regarding routines, it is best to set up a wake up routine, using light to send the message of day and night.
Naps are important
Don’t try to keep your baby up during the day, in the hopes that he or she will sleep better at night. It doesn’t always work.
Overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping at night than those who’ve had enough sleep during the day.
Sleep begets sleep, and if your baby is suffering from frequent night waking up or living on what Basset calls “itty bitty catnaps,” it’s a good idea to make restorative naps a priority.
Wait a moment before going to your baby
I know, it can be uncomfortable not to respond to baby as soon as it cries, but you need to learn.
The truth is, if you jump at every noise from your baby, or every sound heard over the baby monitor, you’re only teaching your child to wake up more often.
You should wait a few minutes to give baby time to settle back to sleep on her own. If she doesn’t, and it sounds like she’s waking up, try to reach her before she escalates into a full-blown howl.
Stepping in before full blown screaming session starts means you will be there to soothe baby back to sleep, before she’s too worked up to sleep.
Either way, it’s okay to turn down the sensitivity on your baby monitor. Set the volume so you’ll be alerted when she’s distressed but won’t hear every gurgle. And no, it doesn’t make you a bad momma.
So, mamas, there are the tips for you and baby to get some much needed shut eye.
Stay strong mamas, and know that this too shall pass.
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