Newborns and young infants are not usually the best sleepers. What with the waking up every few hours to eat and all! That is why the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby’ is so misleading. Parents often become very interested in how to help their newborns sleep pretty soon after delivery. The thing is newborns and young babies are not ready for sleep coaching, that is why it is usually advised that parents should wait on that until the baby is at least 4 months old and have moved past the 4 month sleep regression.
As a parent, don’t let that make you feel hopeless; just because your newborn is too young for sleep coaching does not mean you are destined to endure months of sleeplessness.
There are steps you can take to naturally encourage your newborn to sleep better. These ways include;
Go for a walk with your baby. Fresh air really does help children sleep better. Once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start incorporating a daily walk, or spend some time sitting outside. This will go a long way in helping your baby to sleep at night and during naps.
Give infant massage a try. Infant massage is an easy and natural way to help your newborn relax, which in turn can help promote better sleep. Not only that, but infant massage can improve digestion; strengthen the mother-child bond, and even aid growth and development.
Keep days bright and nights dark. Newborns are not born knowing that days are for playing and nights are for sleeping. In fact, many newborns have their days and night mixed up, and sleep for long stretches during the day while being up every hour at night. You can gently and naturally correct this by making sure that your baby is exposed to sunlight during the day (not direct sunlight, but rather filtered sunlight in a bright, sunny room). In addition, work to keep night dark, keep the room dim during diaper changes and feedings. Over time, this will help re-set your newborn’s circadian rhythms and guide him/her towards sleeping long stretches at night and napping during the day.
Keep baby close. There are lots of benefits to having your newborn nearby at night; it can make middle of the night feedings more convenient. But research indicates that room sharing is more than convenient; babies who room share and sleep close to mom have actually been shown to sleep better. They tend to cry less and sleep longer. They also tend to have slightly lower rates of sudden infant death syndrome. For these reasons, it is recommended that room-sharing is the best sleeping arrangements for babies.
Strive for adequate daytime naps. If your newborn or young baby is up every hour, all night long, then you have no choice but to think of the idea of keeping him up more during the day, in the hopes that it will encourage him to sleep better at night. Be wary of this line of thinking. Generally, babies who don’t nap well during the day actually sleep worse at night, because they are overtired. It’s important that your newborn have some awaking time during the day (this helps correct any newborn day/night confusion). However, your newborn’s awake time should be relatively short (no more than 45-60 minutes, generally), and your newborn should take plenty of naps during the day.
Carry/wear your baby. Nothing is more soothing for baby than being held close to mom or dad. Consequently, most newborns sleep best when they are in mom’s or dad’s arms, or held snugly in a baby sling. This is especially true for colicky babies (babies experiencing abdominal pain). Baby wearing is a great way to soothe colic. Remember that holding your baby, or wearing her around the house, certainly are not permanent sleep solutions. Rather, these are short-term strategies that will help maximize your baby’s and your sleep during those first few months after birth.
So, if you are a new mum and your baby is giving you sleepless nights, try these processes and you will be saying good-bye to sleepless night.
By: Mercy Kukah