We have all heard the term “sleep like a baby”. Indeed, there is a seldom a sight as pleasing as that of a baby sleeping peacefully. Yet, ask new parents, and they will probably tell you that adjusting to the sleep patterns of their infant seems more difficult than scaling high mountain peaks! It is no wonder that new parents are easily recognisable by the look of fatigue from sleep deprivation themselves!
Jokes apart, it is natural for all new parents to be anxious and have a million questions about what is considered adequate amount of sleep for an infant. The first year is full of milestones and like everything else there will be rapid changes in sleep patterns. Here is what is considered a ballpark for sleep requirements for infants.
0-3 months- 14-17 hours in a day in a 24-hour day cycle. The sleeping hours are interjected with feeding, diaper changes and interaction with the family. Some infants need to be fed every two hours while others may need to be fed after every three. Parents of new-borns need not get overtly worried if the sleep patterns may not be quite in sync with the above-mentioned ballpark as sleep patterns can vary from one baby to another. Eating and sleeping may depend on whether or not the baby is breast fed among a host of other factors.
3-6 months- 12-15 hours. Once a baby is three to four months a clear pattern of eating and sleeping is likely to take shape. The baby sleeps for longer periods and can go without feeding for longer intervals. While there are exceptions to this ballpark, this is the time when babies start sleeping through the night. Some babies may take a little over 6 months to begin this pattern.
6-12 months- From six month onwards, you can expect your baby to sleep through the night. However, there are other issues such as growth spurts, teething and sleep regressions and head banging that may lead to night-time awakenings, both for the parent and the baby. While headbanging may be upsetting for a new parent to observe, it is a perfectly normal phenomenon that infants use as a self- soothing mechanism.
However, if the sleep pattern of your infant is worrying you consistently, here are some baby sleep tips that may well turn your tiny bundle of joy into a sleep superstar!
Catch them young
As they say, its never too early to set a bedtime routine for your little angel. You can try setting a routine as early as the first month, instead of just playing it by the ear. While it is difficult to say whether or not it will definitely work for every infant, some common sleep associations are unlikely to go wrong.
These tips may not work right away, but you will notice that in a few days, you will find your baby responding positively to these sleep time rituals and falling into a deep slumber in barely 15-30 minutes.
Swaddle them tight
For newborn babies, swaddling is a tried and tested method to help induce sleep faster. For prime soothing, always swaddle your baby hands up, close to their heart. The sight of a sleeping baby burrito is literally the best thing to look at as a parent! However, swaddling should be stopped as soon as your baby begins to roll as it will cause discomfort. Generally, babies grow out of swaddling between two to four months.
Watch out for cues
As a sleep deprived parent, you may sometimes find yourself wishing that your baby could talk and tell you just when she is hungry and sleepy! While there is still some time for that to happen, your baby does indeed communicate when she is sleepy. All you have to do is pick up on cues like
If you can successfully pick up on these cues, you can get to the soothing process immediately. Missing the sleepy window is likely to make your child crankier than usual. Being alert during the bedtime, will help both you and your child a great deal.
When your baby begins to fuss, pick her up and rock her in your arms for around ten to fifteen minutes. When she begins to get drowsy, pat and shush her in her sleep spot. If she begins to fuss as you put her down, pick her up again and repeat the cycle for fifteen to twenty minutes. While you may have to do this on loop for a week or so, she will gradually get adjusted to this routine and become less ad less fussy over time.
Help your child self soothe
The biggest challenge for a mother is not to get up when she hears her baby wailing on the baby monitor! There is no denying that it is the hardest thing to do! But don’t get up and rush to the nursery at the first cry.
Once you have established a sleep routine for your child, the next step is to help your child self soothe. Consider using your smart device to control and switch on familiar music or even a recording of your voice on a device placed in the nursery that can help your kid put herself back to sleep.
Heart-breaking though it may be for you, the more you help your baby practice the art of self-soothing, the easier it will be for her to fall asleep quicker and have a sound sleep! Don’t skimp on the cuddles and snuggles and cooing before bedtime though, for who doesn’t love that anyway!