Baby and mom not getting enough sleep?
17 March 2017 is marked as World Sleep Day. Sleep deprivation is one of the most difficult aspects of being a parent, especially when you are a new parent. Adjusting to your little one’s sleep patterns takes some getting used to, especially as they are constantly changing. This World Sleep Day (17 March), Meg Faure, from the Pampers Institute of Experts, gives some advice to moms on how to navigate the sleeping issues they may encounter in the first nine months of parenthood.
Newborns to three months
During your baby’s first few weeks they will typically sleep for 16 to 20 hours a day with very short awake times of about an hour during the day.
Help them make the most of their sleep by doing the following:
- Make sure your baby is regularly fed and dry. A wet, hungry baby is inevitably going to feel discomfort and cry.
- Newborns spend so much time on their backs sleeping so it is important to give them plenty of time on their tummies or in an upright position when they are awake.
- Soothe them before sleep with a gentle rocking motion and swaddling, which will help your newborn feel safe and secure.
- Help your baby to learn the difference between night and day by keeping the house nice and bright during the day and dimming the lights at night.
- Change your baby’s clothes in the morning and early evening so they know when the day starts and ends.
- Keep the baby around everyday noise, e.g. the radio.
- Take them out during the day and have a typical day routine, i.e. regular nap and meal times.
Three to six months
Good news – your baby could start sleeping through the night towards the end of this stage. Studies also show that, from as early as three months, babies can start to settle themselves to sleep. Remember, however, that it is still very important to stick to routines such as regular feeding times, playtimes and bedtimes.
Repeating the same set of activities before bedtime every night will also help your baby to read sleep time cues:
- Give them a bath
- Give a short massage while you dress your baby
- After the last feed, sing your little one a lullaby
- Give them a kiss goodnight
Do whatever you find works for you and your little one; just make sure the routine is consistent and always follows the same order so as not to confuse them.
Six to nine months
At this age your baby may experience separation anxiety and may call out for you if they wake up during the night and you’re not there. Try not to worry too much about this phase. Your baby will soon teach themselves to settle when they get to understand that you are only away from them for a short time and will come back.
Teaching your baby to settle themselves and no longer depend on you rocking them or being there when they fall sleep is crucial at this age and it’s part of their natural learning and development.
To help with this you can try the following:
- Stop any stimulating activities about 30 minutes or so before bedtime to create awareness and help your baby relax and fall asleep quicker.
- If your baby cries out, allow them time to try and self-soothe before rushing in to comfort them. If you do go in to check on them, keep your visits soothing and try humming or rubbing their back to relax them without immediately picking them up or feeding them.
Most importantly, bear in mind that all babies are different and there is no ‘one-approach-fits-all’ method. Do whatever works well for you and your child, which will make you both feel more comfortable and relaxed.