Are you a mom or dad excited about your new parent status but struggling to get baby to sleep? Are you a mom on the run, always feeling sleep deprived? Maybe this whole sleep thing’s got you feeling anxious and a bit lost? You’re not alone! Today’s guest post shares tips on how to build healthy sleep patterns for infants. Read on to learn more!
* This is guest post by Emma Kelley *
How to Build Healthy Sleep Patterns for Infants
Caring for your baby always brings great happiness and excitement. However, it comes with some troubles as well, especially sleep deprivation in some of the first months. The fact is that about 75% of parents of infants would like to adjust something related to their baby’s sleep because they’re often faced with sleep issues that badly affect both parents and babies. Before looking into ways to build healthy sleep patterns for infants, first, you need to know how much sleep a baby needs.
Sleep and Infants (4 – 12 months)
Biologically, infants commonly sleep 12 – 16 hours, including naps. Between 3 – 6 months, babies start establishing regular sleep habits and can sleep through the night since their brain is developing at this age. Although you might see a new pattern to appear, it may not be the one you want. Even it comes with some unexpected habits that are quite usual. What’s more, new developmental events such as rolling and standing can interrupt your infant’s sleep.
To help you and your beloved baby get some good sleep, below are 5 useful ways to creating safe and healthy sleep patterns.
Here’s how to help infants build good sleep habits
Step 1 – Help her distinguish day and night
You have to carry out this action for the first few weeks when coming back home from the hospital so that your newborn can perceive the difference between day and night. When she’s awake, bring her out of the room and immerse her in natural light and sounds. During naptime or bedtime, make sure you keep the lights off so she learns to identify darkness and quietness with going to bed. If she wakes at night, try feeding, burping and then putting her back in a bassinet.
Step 2 – Establish a sleep routine
Doing the same things every night will teach your infant that this series of events is a signal of bedtime. Before getting the baby to sleep in a crib, remember to spend about 30 minutes on bathing her, changing her into a new diaper and comfortable pajamas, giving her a gentle massage, and feeding her. Remember that creating a distance between feeding and sleep is extremely important since the baby won’t associate one with the other. In addition, you can carry out a short version of this for nap time.
Step 3 – Split off eating and sleeping
If the infant falls asleep before she’s full, she will wake up sooner because of hunger. And if it repeats frequently, a wrong sleep cycle will be created, making sure neither of you is getting enough sleep at night. That’s why most parents don’t want to let their infants fall asleep while they’re feeding. Remember that the baby might eat a little, then doze a little, wake up to eat and do a few times again in a day. So, when she is going to sleep while you’re feeding, just stop and place her to bed.
Avoid stuffing more breast milk, formula or baby food to keep her asleep longer to create your desirable sleep patterns. Eating too much will make your baby feel uncomfortable and she can’t sleep as well. Most important, never put a baby bottle in your baby’s mouth when placing her to bed since it can lead to ear infections, choking and cavities.
Step 4 – Ensure all sleep is safe sleep
Infants should be put to sleep on their back when placed in the bassinet or crib, according to a study from Canadian Pediatric Society. Until your baby can roll on her own, this position is linked with a decreased danger of sudden infant death syndrome. Once she is able to roll independently after being put in the crib, you don’t need to roll him back, unless you get a different message from your physician.
A firm flat surface is the best for all sleep periods. Avoid using soft materials such as bumper pads, blankets, and stuffed pets in your infant’s sleep area.
Step 5 – Teach your baby to fall asleep independently
At the age of 4 to 12 months, it’s suggested that you should give your baby a chance to learn to fall asleep independently. It’s known as the most important skill so that she can fall asleep quickly at naptime, bedtime, and then sleep until dawn. The sooner you start, the easier you stop sleep issues.
Commonly, the idea of sleep troubles is unavoidable when having a baby. However, the fact is that you can begin building good sleep habits from an early age. Bear in mind that most babies can learn how to sleep well from birth. Therefore, it’s never too early to try any of these tips.
Finally, be a patient parent all the time
Make sure your expectations are practical because you can’t exactly predict your baby sleep patterns for the first few months. For now, try to sleep when she sleeps because that might be the only way you can rest well. Then gradually apply the 5 steps above and see the results. In case that her sleep habits changes suddenly, you need to check with your physician to find out what may be going on.
Guest post by Emma Kelley
Emma is the founder of ShrewdMommy. She loves sharing useful experiences in raising kids and supporting other moms and dads to develop necessary skills in parenting. She recently posted a new article about unavoidable sleep troubles in infants. You can connect with Emma on Twitter and Facebook today!