Author: Maxine Williams
Probably one of the hardest adjustments of having a new baby is the lack of sleep that goes hand in hand with your baby needing regular feeds throughout the night. If your baby is hungry it needs to be fed, but there are a few things that can help your baby settle for longer until it is only hunger that will wake him or her in the night. By six months most babies do not need a night time feed if they have fed well during the day and are not ill.
First 9 Months Sleep Advice
- When your baby is newborn, after having 9 months of a nice snug womb and your body noises and motions to settle them, sometimes the adjustment to the outside world can cause more night wakings than is just down to hunger. It is important to remember newborn babies have no concept of time, night or day, so it will take time for them to fall into a pattern. With your help though, it is perfectly possible to have them sleeping through by six months.
- Making sure your baby is ready to sleep first of all is most important. With newborns, as they are so tiny they will mostly drift off to sleep when they are ready but from around 3 months this can change and they may need you to notice the signs of tiredness and help them to settle.
Ready to Sleep Checklist
- Is your baby well fed, clean, dry and winded?
- Is your baby in good health? Illness can either make babies sleep more or make them find it hard to sleep.
- Is your baby tired enough? Some say most newborns up to three months of age find it hard to stay awake more than two hours without becoming overtired and miserable. Some babies yawn, rub their eyes or pull at their ears when they are tired, watch for signs.
- Is your baby too tired? Overtiredness can mean that a baby will find it very hard to settle due to too much stimulation and lack of sleep. A nice dim lit room, a bit of soothing can help your baby to sleep in this case. Trying to catch your baby before he or she becomes overtired will also help.
If your baby is most of these he or she will most likely be ready for a sleep.
- Getting a balance with day time naps can also help your baby to sleep longer. It is generally agreed most babies before 6 months need around 3 naps in a day and will sleep roughly an hour before waking, however all babies are different! If your baby is waking a lot int he night and you dont think it is caused by anything but lack or tiredness have a look at your babies sleep in the day and see if you can help encourage your baby to have less or more at certain times. You can never force a baby though, so if your baby really wont tweak his or her naps, you may have to try again in a few weeks or so.
- Have a think about your babies sleeping place as well to help encourage a more settled sleep. Is the room warm but not too warm? It is recommended a babies sleeping room should be constant between 16-18 degrees. Is the room very light? Some babies may find it hard to settle in a bright room, having the room kept dim can help them settle better and also begin to teach them the difference between night and day as well as teach them that when they go into a dark room it is most likely time for a sleep. Is the room noisy or the surroundings of it? Some babies like to hear noise when sleeping, others can be easily disturbed by it so it could be something to watch for.
- Swaddling is something that can be considered for helping your baby to sleep well. Swaddling is the method of wrapping your baby nice and snug in a blanket, with arms and legs by its sides and only the top of the shoulders and head uncovered. The reason this is believed to work so well with some babies is that it replicates the snug feeling of the womb and also that babies are born with the 'moro reflex' (startle reflex) meaning that sometimes when they are drifting off to sleep and their arms and legs begin to go limp, they can get the sensation of falling and suddenly jerk awake. Also any loud noises near by can cause a new baby to fling out its arms and legs in shock and begin to cry. Having your baby swaddled helps control the moro reflex, but it should be understood that not all babies necessarily will like being swaddled. By six months old the moro reflex is minimal or totally gone. Swaddling is really only for the first 3-4 months of a babies life after that, your baby will need to move about a bit and be able to release body heat to prevent over heating.
- If your baby is one who does not like to swaddled, some mums swear by a baby gro bag (baby sleeping bag) that leaves babies arms out and whilst the legs are obviously inside they are not held firm like the swaddle. Being in a baby gro bag has the added benefit that baby will not wriggle out of it and so wake up cold in the night. Be aware though that like duvets there are different thicknesses of gro bags from 0.5 tog being extra light to 3 tog being extra warm. Most gro bags come with instructions regarding this but make sure you have a read before use.
- Having a 'wind down' routine can help as well. Although babies below six months are very young to use a routine with, it is possible to have the beginnings of one. Giving your baby a nice lukewarm bath, a baby massage with some oil (even f you dont know how to do this, your baby will love you to just stroke him or her) followed by a breastfeed or a warm bottle of milk in a dim lit room, perhaps even with some low music playing will help your baby realise that when all this is happening, he or she will be in bed soon and be ready to sleep.
- Using aids such as rocking, dummies or feeding to sleep do all help though sometimes your baby can begin to rely on whichever as the only way he or she can settle to sleep, so when your baby wakes in the early hours of the morning, he or she could come to need you to provide whichever aid they are used to sleeping with. If you would like to avoid this, it can help to use rocking or dummy or a feed as a wind down to get your baby sleepy but try to avoid them actually falling alseep whilst in the process. Gently rousing your baby slightly as you settle him or her into bed for the night will help them begin to learn how to settle off to sleep by themselves. If your baby is waking for a feed after 6 months of age and you are certain he or she does not really need to be feeding (talk to health visitor first) then you can begin to dilute down your babies milk to encourage him or her to drop the feed.
10 months to 18 months Sleep Advice
- As your baby gets older, his or her sleeping patterns can change. He or she may need less sleep during the day and become harder to settle.
- Having a set bedtime routine will now be very effective in helping your growing baby understand the signals and become sleepy for bedtime. Again, giving your baby a warm bath, a baby massage with baby oil, and then perhaps going into your babies room and sitting down together, reading a book to your baby, will make for a good bedtime routine. If your baby is old enough, offering a beaker of milk whilst reading will keep your baby calm and settled.
- Some babies like to have a comforter during the long hours of the night. A soft cuddly toy or special comforters such as cuskees bought from mothercare or such places can become your child's firm friend and help them sleep better. Sleeping with your chosen comforter for a night or two before giving to your child will provide comfort to your child in the fact he or she will be able to smell you from the toy.
- Avoid watching tv too close to bedtime. Most studies conclude babies who watch a lot of tv especially before bed are much more likely to have unsettled sleeps.
- Your child may still be happy to be in a gro bag at this stage, which is totally acceptable and can help gently restrict your babies ability to try to get up and about in the cot. However from12 months of age, it can be a novelty to your baby to introduce a child's duvet and pillow, especially if you let your child pick his or her own (more around 18 months).
- If you find your baby is waking in the night and the timing is pretty regular, it could be a habit your child has made. To gently break this, there is a method called 'gradual withdrawl'. This means when your baby cries, you can go in and soothe your baby but without picking your baby up. You can do this perhaps by humming softly or stroking babies forehead. Reassure your baby that you are there. Try to avoid turning bright lights on and talking loudly, keep it nice and quiet and sleepy. After a few minutes, sit by the cot on a chair and keep very softly reassuring your baby that you are there. If your baby is happy to settle knowing you are near by, the following evening if your baby again wakes, this time you can move the chair further away from the cot. Continue moving the chair further away until you are by the door. Once you reach the door you may now find that after a quick reassurance your baby will settle if you leave the room. It can take a few weeks and you should avoid letting your baby become hysterical but being patient, gentle and reassuring and providing there is no other reason for your abby to be waking that for reassurance, he or she should begin to settle soon.
About the Author:
maxine is a busy mum of 3 and runs a chat forum for women at http://womens-world.co.uk/forums
Article Source: ArticlesBase.com - Baby Sleep Tips