How to establish good sleep habits
Does your baby sleep through the night?
It is only when you become a parent you realize how unpredictable a baby’s sleep can be. It is because circadian rhythms, or the sleep-wake cycle, are regulated by light and darkness and these rhythms take time to develop. In the first few months, you need to adjust to your baby’s sleeping patterns. However, after six months, you can start to ‘manage’ your baby’s sleep.
Understanding infant sleep
Newborn babies sleep an average of 16 hours a day. During sleep, the baby is in different phases of sleep. During some periods, the baby sleeps quietly (deep sleep) and at other times more restlessly (REM; rapid eye movement sleep, known as dream sleep). Half of a newborn baby’s sleep is REM sleep. It is during this stage that blood supply to the muscles is increased, energy is restored, tissue growth occurs and important hormones are released for growth and development. In terms of consciousness, this sleep phase is just below waking state. You can perhaps see this yourself when you look at your baby – he or she moves and is easily awakened.
More than 50% of Human Growth Hormones*(HGH) essential for baby’s growth is released during deep sleep.
Help your baby sleep
Sleep for newborns revolve around their need to be fed, changed and nurtured. Most often they express their need to sleep by rubbing their eyes or crying. Newborn babies need security and a lot of physical contact. This creates a sense of embrace, which is why your baby likes being cradled by you. If your baby falls asleep at your breast or in your arms, you may need to wait half an hour before placing your baby down. This is because it is best to wait until your baby is in a deep sleep before moving.
If your baby falls asleep during a feed it will get used to falling asleep in your arms. This may mean he or she will start to wake up again when placed down to sleep because your baby wants the comfort of your arms or breast. At this stage, it would be a good idea to start separating as soon as your baby falls asleep during a feed so that your baby does not get used to sleeping in your arms.
When babies are put to bed when they are tired, but still awake, they tend to become ‘self- soothers’ which enables them to sleep by themselves. If your baby becomes accustomed to your warmth and assistance always at bedtime he or she will become a ‘signaler’ and cry for your help every time to get back to sleep at night.
At 6 to 7 months of age, many babies would have adopted good eating and sleeping patterns. If you had started to spoon-feed your baby, it is most likely, he/she does not need food at night. Babies at this stage sleep approximately 10 to 12 hours, but it is normal for your baby to still wake up a few times during the night. If you don’t fuss too much and allow your baby to calm himself /herself to sleep, it will be easier as your baby does not need your support to fall asleep or upon waking up again.
Bedtime rituals provide security, but be careful not to make them too long, that the child becomes overtired and irritable. An overtired child becomes hyperactive and will find it hard to go to sleep. During the second half of the year your baby may also experience separation anxiety, refusing to let you go. This is when you need to stay calm and patient. Your baby may have started crawling, standing or taking the first steps to walk. The increased motor activities can disrupt sleep as your child might try sitting up or standing during sleep. Let your baby sleep in a cot to prevent accidents.
Initially, babies still need a morning and afternoon nap. At 15 months of age, things may be a little difficult for both you and your baby, as two sleeps will be too many, but one is too few. You must accept this as a transition phase. Try to alternate between one-nap and two-nap days. Remember, your child still needs to sleep as he/she did when he/she was younger so continue practising some of the bedtime rituals you did when your child was younger.
Babies should sleep on their backs from birth. Once your baby is able to turn, let your baby sleep in the position he or she chooses. However, it is good to make sure your baby doesn’t always have his or her head turned to just one side to avoid your baby’s head becoming misshapen.
Babies who sleep in their parents’ bed
It is a myth that babies who sleep in their parents bed will not subsequently get used to sleeping in their own beds. However, it may be a good idea to be aware that children and parents can very easily disturb each other’s sleep, and that this may have an impact on their life together.
Don’t stimulate babies
when they show signs of tiredness.
Try to avoid eye contact as well.
Babies need predictability
when it comes to sleep.
Make your baby sleep in familiar places.
Sing the same song or tell the
same story at night.
Remember repetitions make you feel secure.
Teach baby the difference between day and night.
At night, draw the curtains, use a dim light, keep
noise level low and make sure there are not many
distractions in the room to attract baby
Dress baby comfortably for sleep.
Avoid clothing that will make baby too warm at
night. 100% cotton material will suit the Malaysian
climate and give baby more comfort.
Place a soft cuddly toy next to your baby.
Your baby will learn to find comfort in something
other than your body or heartbeat.
Do you know overfeeding baby can lead to disrupted sleep?
Researchers have found that overfeeding babies in their first few weeks will triple the risk of them unable to sleep at 12 weeks of age. Though there is no right or wrong number of feeds, it is possible to gradually delay the number of feeds at night after baby is 3 weeks i.e. provided baby is putting on weight. This prevents baby from associating feeding and waking at night.
Get the right diaper for night usage
Drypers WeeWee Dry is super absorbent and offers prolonged dryness so your baby can sleep comfortably at night. The 5 elastic bands (two on each side of the legs and one on the waist) make it so flexible for your baby to move around freely in sleep, even on restless nights.
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