Sleep deprivation is a recognized form of torture! Lack of sleep is probably most new parents’ biggest challenge.
Many new parents have unrealistic goals pertaining to their babies’ sleep and routine. Small babies have shorter deep-sleep and longer REM or dream-sleep cycles than grown-ups. This is with good reason. Many believe that it helps to prevent cot death. They also need to feed frequently in the early months as they are growing rapidly.
Even grown-ups have unique sleep habits. Some of us are in bed by 21h00, and others are night-owls and late-risers. Some can get along without sleep quite easily, while others fall apart of their night was disrupted. And yet we expect one standard sleep routine that all babies should adhere to.
it will take some time for your baby to settle into his or her own patterns, and in the early days the best thing is just to fulfil in baby’s needs and watch these emerge. Eventually you will know exactly what works for your baby. However, below are a five general tips to help baby fall asleep and to help you build positive sleep habits.
- Build a wind-down routine. This does not refer to a strict routine of when and how long yoru baby must sleep, but rather to a set of events that you follow at the end of each day to set the stage for a good night’s rest. This routine will change as your baby grows, and will be unique to your household. You can start with a walk around the block, with baby in a stroller or a carrier. You can follow this with bath-time, baby massage and then a last feed. Play some restful music. Be consistent so that your baby learns to associate these things with bedtime.
- Try to put your baby down while awake. Now for some babies this simply won’t work, which is OK. But do try to put your baby down while they are drowsy but not yet asleep. Stay with them so that they know you are there. If you can teach your baby to fall asleep on their own this would be great. Remember though that babies only start forming habits when they are a bit older (closer to 6 months), so don’t expect too much too soon. If this doesn’t work it is not the end of the world; it is something that will eventually develop on it’s own.
- Remove all distractions. Make sure there is nothing in the environment that keeps baby awake. Place your mobile over your changing mat instead of over the cot, and move the night light away from the side of the cot. a blinking light from eg a baby monitor can cause irritation and overstimulation. Toys can be played with outside the cot. You baby needs to associate their cot with sleeping, not playing. Remember not to be too quiet; many babies sleep better with a bit of background noise. A white-noise App may actually help. Check out our range of Baby Monitors here.
- Give them a blankie/bear/taglet. When your newborn is falling asleep, place a taglet/blanket/soft toy in their arms. They will learn to associate that item with sleep. This can become a helpful tool for later on. A good tip is to buy one or two extras of this item, in case the original ever goes missing!
- Watch for the sleep cues. This is difficult in the beginning, but you will eventually see the cues that baby is getting tired. It could be a change in their cry, rubbing their eyes, or refusing a bottle. Babies will sometimes struggle more to sleep once they are over-tired, which will happen if you miss or ignore these cues.
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