One of the biggest challenges new parents face is creating a sleep schedule for a baby. It is important for parents to establish a good sleep routine for their newborn baby as early as possible. Not only will this create a more stable and secure environment for your baby, but it will also give you more time to rest.
While adults are used to sleeping through the night, newborn babies have different sleeping patterns, which can be difficult for new parents to get used too. Babies generally experience fragmented or broken sleep patterns. Even though they sleep a lot, it is broken into shorter time periods across the day.
Additionally, because babies’ stomachs are so small, they cannot hold enough milk to keep them feeling full for long periods of time, which is why they also need to feed 2-3 times throughout the night. On rare occasions some babies as young as six weeks old may sleep throughout the night. However, it is more common for this to start occurring when a baby is 4-6 months old.
There are some arguments that advocate allowing your baby to cry so they learn to sleep; however, this is generally not advisable, as babies need to be nurtured during the night just as they are during the day. Therapist Aimee Wheeler explains that allowing a baby to cry during the night may affect their cognitive development and it will most likely affect them later on in life.
Sleep training is another solution to create a better atmosphere to help your baby prepare to sleep. Sleep expert Jill Spivack explains that sleep is a learned skill, which is why it is important to create a good solid environment and a good routine for your baby. Parents create these environments by reducing any form of stimulation before bedtime such as playing and being in places where there is a lot of background noise. A few tips to help soothe a baby and prepare them for sleep are to give them a warm bath or to sing a song. As your baby develops more of a routine, you can try reducing your baby’s daytime naps and moving the time they go to bed at night back to a later time; however, this should only be done when your baby is more settled.
Another popular method of helping your baby become a good sleeper is to schedule times for them to wake up. Try keeping a record of the times your baby wakes up every night. After you’ve figured out their pattern try waking them up 15 minutes earlier than they would usually wake up. Push the time back 15 minutes per day and eventually they will stop waking up by themselves and instead wait for you to wake them up. This helps your baby sleep for longer times and gradually over time you should be able to phase out your baby waking up during the night all together. Babies are usually predictable with their sleep patterns and this popular method may help your baby to sleep through the night. It also reduces crying and helps parents have more control over the situation.
It is a good idea to try and get your baby into a good sleeping habit sooner rather than later and if you find that your baby still has a few problems staying asleep, talk to your pediatrician who will give you more specialized advice on children’s sleep disorders. Dealing with a baby who is having sleeping difficulties does take a lot of will power; however, it will benefit your entire family if a good sleep routine is established early on.