Newborns have a hard time distinguishing between night and day, which explains their maddeningly short bursts of sleep around the clock. But once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start to teach him the difference – and establish healthy sleep.
How much sleep does your baby need?
It depends on their age. Newborns need between 14 to 17 hours of sleep per day. Much of that sleep happens during naps taken throughout the day.
By the time they reach six months of age, babies still average around 13 hours of sleep per day, but they start sleeping for longer stretches at night. That said, allow plenty of room for naptime in your baby’s sleep schedule. Missing out on naptime can disrupt your baby’s sleep rhythms and cause them to wake up early.
_ Set a Bedtime Routine.
A study of 405 mothers — with infants between 7 months and 36 months old — showed that babies who followed a nightly bedtime routine went to sleep easier, slept better, and cried out in the middle of the night less often.
Some parents start their baby’s bedtime routine as early as 6 to 8 weeks old. Your baby’s routine can be any combination of regular bedtime activities.
The keys to success:
▪️Play active games during the day and quiet games in the evening. This keeps your baby from getting too excited right before bedtime but gets them tired from the day’s activities.
▪️ Keep activities the same and in the same order, night after night.
▪️ Make every activity calm and peaceful, especially toward the end of the routine.
▪️ Many babies enjoy bathing right before bedtime, which calms them down.
▪️ Save your baby’s favorite activity for last, and do it in their bedroom. This will help them look forward to bedtime and associate their sleep space with things they like to do.
_ Use light strategically.
“Lights push your child’s biological ‘go’ button,” On the flip side, darkness triggers the brain to release melatonin, a key sleep hormone. Keep your baby’s days bright and his nights dark and he’ll quickly figure out when it’s time to sleep.
▪️ During the day, allow plenty of sunlight into the house or take him outside. Put your baby down for daytime naps in a well-lit room (unless he has trouble falling asleep at nap time).
▪️ To induce nighttime sleepiness, consider installing dimmers on the lights in your baby’s room, but also in other rooms where you both spend lots of time. Lower the lights in the evening (up to two hours before bedtime) to set the mood.
▪️ It’s fine to use a night-light in his room, but choose a small, dim one that stays cool to the touch. (Don’t plug it in near bedding or drapes.).
▪️ If your child wakes up during the night, don’t turn on the lights or carry him into a brightly lit room. The shift from dark to light tells his brain it’s go time. Instead, soothe him back to sleep in his dark bedroom.
▪️ If early morning sunlight prompts your child to wake too early, or if he has trouble napping in the afternoon, consider installing room-darkening shades.
Baby sleep: Tips for birth to 3 months.
1. Put your baby to bed when she’s drowsy, not asleep.
This is a tall order, especially for breastfeeding moms, but master the timing and both you and your baby will rest easier. Babies who drift off on their own are more likely to learn to soothe themselves to sleep.
2. Wait a moment before going to your baby.
If you jump at every squeak heard over the baby monitor, you’re only teaching your child to wake up more often. Wait a few minutes to give her time to settle back to sleep on her own. If she doesn’t, and it sounds like she’s waking up, try to reach her before she escalates into a full-blown howl. Stepping in before a meltdown means you’ll catch her before she’s too worked up to fall back asleep.
3. Try not to look your baby in the eye.
Many babies are easily stimulated. Just meeting your baby’s gaze can engage her attention and signal it’s playtime.
Parents who make eye contact with sleepy babies inadvertently encourage them to snap out of their sleep zone.
The more interaction that takes place between you and your baby during the night, the more motivation she has to get up.
4. Change Up Their Diapers.
If your baby wakes up due to a wet or dirty diaper, switching to overnight diapers may make them more comfortable. Overnight diapers are designed to be more absorbent and keep your baby’s bottom dry for several hours, enabling them to sleep through the night.
5. Turn on a calming sound.
Sounds that remind babies of being inside the womb may be calming, such as a white noise device, the humming sound of a fan, or the recording of a heartbeat.
Expert sleep strategies for babies”, www.babycenter.com
“Get Your Baby to Sleep Longer”, www.sleep.org
Dan Brennan (7-5-2019), “Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night”، www.webmd.com