Myth: You Should Never Wake A Sleeping Baby
FACT: If your baby is a great daytime napper they might be having too much day sleep, which would then mean they wont sleep as much overnight. In this case you should definitely wake your baby from their naps. Some babies would quite happily sleep all day then stay awake all night and we absolutely dont want it that way around! Waking your baby from their naps means you are able to regulate how much day sleep your little one is having, to enable them to sleep well at night.
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During the newborn stage there are no rules and we can do whatever it takes to help our babies sleep and stay well rested. This can include rocking them to a certain tempo, honing your swaddling technique, or strolling around the neighborhood. It is not uncommon after several weeks of taking heroic measures to help your newborn sleep, to adopt these strategies as your go-to methods. If you are feeling exhausted, and your baby does not sleep well despite your constant assistance, it is time to update your approach to sleep.
Enjoy Holding Your Baby
I know you didnt land on this article to hear that you should keep holding your baby during naps, but hear me out.
You see, its easy to look at holding him as an inconvenience, a hassle to deal with. Especially with a million things to do, from washing dishes to packing the diaper bag. To lose the freedom of getting to do these tasks any time you want can be hard to accept.
But maybe this can also be an opportunity to enjoy your temporary circumstances. It forces you to slow down and ask yourself if youre doing too much. Maybe its okay that the dishes are in the sink, and youll figure out what to do if you run out of diaper cream.
Maybe its a sign to take it easy. Otherwise, youll be in a whirlwind all day long, without stopping to enjoy these little, slower-paced moments.
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Is It Safe To Let Your Baby Sleep On You
Having a newborn sleep on you is fine as long as youre awake, says Dubief. But chances are, youll fall asleep when youre in this position, and safety concerns become an issue. Dubief admits that even she fell asleep with her own babies before she knew how enormously unsafe it is.
Ideally, there are a few other warm bodies around to cuddle your baby to sleep while the bleary-eyed momor zombie dad catches some quality zzzs in their own bed. Maybe it means grandpa plays the human mattress so that the baby can sleep while the grown-ups watch the playoffs on TV. Or perhaps auntie can rock and read while the tree frog dozes in her lap. Everyone loves holding a baby, right?
Well, nonot always. What is lovely when a baby is a few days old may get tiring fast for an exhausted and overwhelmed mom who just cant hold their baby another second. If youre desperate to sleep, eat, pee, shower or just take abreak from the unrelenting demands of the new self-centred ruler of the household, putting your baby to sleep in their own bed, even if they protest, is perfectly fine .
As They Grow Babies Achieve Sleep Maturity
Okay, you say, I understand this developmental design, but when will my baby sleep through the night? The age at which babies settle meaning they go to sleep easily and stay asleep varies widely among babies. For some infants, sleep is easily come by, but they dont stay asleep. Others go to sleep with difficulty but will stay asleep. Other exhausting babies neither want to go to sleep nor stay asleep.
In the first three months, tiny babies seldom sleep for more than four-hour stretches without needing feeding. Tiny babies have tiny tummies. Yet, they usually sleep a total of 14-18 hours a day. From three to six months, most babies begin to settle. They are awake for longer stretches during the day and some may sleep five-hour stretches at night. Between three to six months, expect one or two night wakings. You will also see the period of deep sleep lengthen. The vulnerable periods for night waking decrease and babies are able to enter deep sleep more quickly. This is called sleep maturity.
NIGHTTIME PARENTING LESSON #4:
An important fact for you to remember is that your infants sleep habits are more a reflection of your babys temperament rather than your style of nighttime parenting. And keep in mind that other parents usually exaggerate how long their baby sleeps as if this were a badge of good parenting, which it isnt. Its not your fault baby wakes up.
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Choose Your Own Sleep Adventure
If your baby is about 4-6 months or older and is waking frequently at night, you can choose what to do.
Babies are born pattern-seekers. They rely on predictable sequences of events to make sense of the world. They know that if they bat at a toy within reach, the toy will move. When they see a bottle or the breast, they anticipate that a feeding is coming. These are patterns that baby can understand.
The way your baby makes sense of sleep is through the patterns you create. When bedtime always means bouncing on a yoga ball until falling asleep, baby will continue to expect bouncing to fall asleep until you change that pattern.
Whatever pattern you have created, this builds the predictability that baby needs in order to relax and fall asleep. When bedtime and how you handle night wakings have no pattern at all, this is when you see the most disruption to sleep.
Sleep training does not necessarily mean letting your child cry it out. It means making an intentional series of changes to the patterns you have taught your baby. It might be done quickly, it might be done gradually. But sleep training is the only option that changes the pattern baby associates with sleep.
Typical Daily Nap Hours For Babies
While there are guidelines on the typical number of hours most babies sleep each day, it’s important to understand that all babies are unique and need different amounts of sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, infants ages 4 to 12 months should get between 12 and 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours . Take the guidelines as just thata guide. Plus, a four-hour range is a lot. Let your baby clue you in to how much more they need to nap.
Though there are typical baby sleep patterns, just because your baby may not be taking the typical number of naps or they may be sleeping more or less for their age, doesnt necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with their sleep schedule. In fact, a recent study found that the majority of babies don’t even sleep a full eight hours a night.
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Try Heartbeat White Noise
One reason your baby may like to sleep on your chest is because of the sound of your heartbeat. Assuming its mom who is holding the baby, your baby did sleep with your heartbeat sound for many months. So, consider using a white noise machine with a heartbeat sound. It may not be a miracle solution but could help.
Whats The Bottom Line
Dont assume sleep issues will fix themselves. They dont just disappear on their own. Even into elementary school ages, kids who experience sleep problems often continue to have troublesometimes without their parents even being aware of the sleep difficulty their child is having.Fricke-Oerkermann, L., Plück, J., Schredl, M., Heinz, K., Mitschke, A., Wiater, A., & Lehmkuhl, G. . Prevalence and course of sleep problems in childhood. Sleep, 30, 13711377.
Build healthy sleep habits early on. This is why professional organizations, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, recommend creating good sleep habits as baby grows, including putting baby down awake.
Consider your situation carefully. Is your child getting enough rest, falling asleep easily , and waking refreshed in the morning? Are YOU getting enough rest? Is everyone in the home happy with your sleep situation? If you can honestly answer yes to all of these questions, you may not need to change anything right now.
Is sleep a huge challenge in your home? Do you find yourself struggling to stay awake at the wheel? Are sleep issues causing stress and anxiety for you? If your answer is yes, then please dont wait for things to improve on their own. Your health and safety, as well as your childs, are far too valuable to put off fixing your sleep. If youd like some one-on-one help creating a sleep plan for your family, contact me!
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How Is Sleep Behavioral
There is a social change that happens at 4 months, when babies become aware that they can interact with the world around them.
If you are the parent of a 4-month old, youve probably noticed that baby all of a sudden seems much more alert at this age. Everything catches his attention.
There is a biological change in sleep at 4 months. Your baby will now wake periodically at the end of each sleep cycle, differently to how baby was sleeping as a newborn. Before 4 months, your babys waking was connected mostly to hunger. You probably saw longer stretches of sleep develop. Because your babys sleep is now different, these wakings are no longer driven by hunger, but by the marking of distinct sleep cycles.
Not every baby will wake his or her parents at 4 months. Some babies will awaken at night and quietly return to sleep. Others wake and let you know theyre awake. You can read more about this here: Sleep Training: Is It a Control Issue? The short of the matter is, a baby who goes into the crib awake at bedtime is much more likely to return to sleep independentlyor, as more popularly described, sleep through the night.
Object permanence develops around 8 months. Maybe you made it through the changes that happen at 4 months without too much trouble. But now your baby is around 8 months old and sleep has taken a nose dive.
Coping With Sleep Regressions Related To Teething
If your baby is waking up from teething pain, different approaches may help bring relief, including:
- Using a cold, damp washcloth to soothe their gums
- Lightly massage their gums with your fingers
- Allowing your baby to briefly use a chew toy meant for teething children
- If approved by your babys pediatrician, giving them acetaminophen for serious teething pain
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How To Get Past Your Babys Sleep Regression
Dr. Schwartz says that successfully getting past a sleep regression comes down to baby sleep 101. Theres nothing special you need to do for this 4-month sleep regression besides get back to the basics. If you havent yet, this may be a good time to sleep train your baby.
Need a quick refresher? Try these six methods.
1. Try the cry-it-out method to sleep train your 4 month old
Dr. Schwartz says that while there are many effective ways to sleep train your 4 month old, he recommends the cry-it-out method, as its usually the quickest and it allows your baby to put themselves to sleep instead of you rushing in to soothe them. This method gets its name because it involves some crying as your baby learns this new skill.
Im a big fan of the cry-it-out method. If you always rock your baby back to sleep when they cry, theyre going to be dependent on you to fall back asleep every time they stir or wake up from a noise, says Dr. Schwartz. Granted, cry-it-out is challenging for many parents because no one likes to hear their baby cry. But everyone will benefit when your baby learns to fall asleep and stay asleep by themselves. If cry-it-out is not for you, find a different sleep training method that you are comfortable with.
2. Feed your baby well during the day
3. Put your baby to sleep awake
4. Put baby to sleep in a calm, relaxing atmosphere
5. Establish a bedtime routine
He recommends starting with the Bs:
- Breast or bottle.
6. Check in with your pediatrician
Help Your Little One Learn To Fall Asleep Lying Still
Once she’s used to falling asleep being rocked or walked instead of eating, the next phase is to get her to fall asleep without rocking. So you begin with rocking, but then, before she is actually asleep, you stop rocking, and just sit, holding her calmly. If she protests, begin rocking again. Keep repeating this. It may take 25 attempts, but eventually she will begin falling asleep even though you have stopped rocking. Thats a real victory.
Do this for a week or so until she’s used to it as your new routine: getting sleepy while rocking and then falling asleep in your arms while not rocking.
How Your Infant Sleeps
Youre rocking, walking, or nursing your baby and her eyelids droop as she begins to nod off in your arms. Her eyes close completely, but her eyelids continue to flutter and her breathing is still irregular. Her hands and limbs are flexed, she may startle, twitch, and show fleeting smiles, called sleep grins. She may even continue a flutter-like sucking. Just as you bend over to deposit your sleeping baby in her crib so you can creep quietly away, she awakens and cries. Thats because she wasnt fully asleep. She was still in the state of light sleep when you put her down.
Now try your proven bedtime ritual again, but continue this ritual longer . You will notice that babys grimaces and twitches stop her breathing becomes more regular and shallow, her muscles completely relax. Her fisted hands unfold and her arms and limbs dangle weightlessly. Martha and I call this limp-limb sign of deep sleep. Baby is now in a deeper sleep. You put her down and sneak away, breathing a satisfying sigh of relief that your baby is finally resting comfortably.
NIGHTTIME PARENTING LESSON #1:
Dont Buy Those Cute Crib Bumper Sets You See On Blogs And In Catalogs
This ones pretty easy to follow: dont use crib bumpers. They are a SIDS risk, the sale of them is even banned in some US states, and doctors have been lobbying against crib bumpers for years. Yes, some babies flail around a lot in their sleep, especially when theyre on the verge of learning to roll, crawl, or walk. But they probably wont seriously injure themselves by bumping their heads on a crib rail. While those breathable mesh bumpers do a good job of keeping soothers from poking out of the crib slats, they are not recommended due to the risk of entanglement and strangulation. And while were at it, you shouldnt use a DockATot or infant lounger for unsupervised sleep inside the crib, either. Theyre technically no longer available in Canada, but similar products are still on the market.
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Why It Happens That Some Newborns Wont Sleep Unless Held
There are 3 reasons this might be happening to you.
How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Without Being Held
After I realized I couldnt keep holding my baby to sleep every time, I tried different strategies to help him take to other sleep arrangements.
I sought the right baby gear and tools to help make that sleep happen. I tweaked his daily schedule and changed the way I put him to sleep. And I implemented the habits that would encourage him to sleep anywhere else but my arms.
These strategies not only worked with my eldest, but with his brothers as well. When my eldest was three-years-old, I gave birth to twins.
I knew from the start I didnt want to repeat many of the mistakes I made with my first baby. You can also imagine how impossible it is to hold two babies to sleep. I implemented these strategies and, even with two of them, saw a remarkable difference in how they took to sleep.
I include all the tips that helped me get my babies to sleep well. They were still too young to be sleeping 12 hours straight just yet, but I was able to lengthen their sleep into longer stretches.
They were also more willing to sleep without being held, and I was establishing the habits that could help them get the sleep we all needed.
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Your Baby’s Sleeping Position
Always put your baby to sleep on their back with their feet touching the end of the cot.
If your baby always lies with their head in the same position they might develop a flat head. This is called plagiocephaly.
You can help prevent this when putting your baby down to sleep on their back. When they are lying flat, you can alternate their head position so that sometimes they face left and sometimes they face right.