Friday, March 8, 2013
Baby's Sleep Patterns
Expect the initial 3-6 months of your baby's life to be in no way scheduled! Newborn babies sleep between 12 to 23 hours a day, with the average being 16? hours. Don't be concerned if your baby is sleeping more or less than you anticipated. Each baby has their own individual sleep patterns, as with us adults.
REM Sleep Patterns
Do be aware though, that as a newborn, much of a baby's sleep is REM (rapid eye movement). At the end of each REM cycle, your baby may awaken briefly with a fuss, twitch, or whimper, then fall back to sleep. That is normal. Nothing is wrong with your child; he/she just has a light sleep pattern, which will change with maturity. That sleep pattern will likely include irregular breathing; they may well even stop breathing for 10 seconds. Don't panic...rapid, shallow breaths along with pauses in breathing is usual because of your baby's immature brain. However, if there is blueness around the lips, rapid breathing in excess of sixty breaths a minute, or pauses in breathing that go over 10 seconds, call 911 immediately.
How feeding affects their sleep
Also be aware that breastfed babies need to be fed more often than bottle fed babies. Breastfed babies will likely be waking to eat every 2 to 3 hours until they are somewhere between 3 to 6 months old. In contrast, formula fed babies may sleep through the night at only 2 months.
Noise is something you really shouldn't worry about too much. If you always tiptoe around your sleeping infant and are as quiet as a mouse, your baby won't be able to sleep through any noise. So as long as you aren't yelling, don't turn the volume down. This will permit you to get chores done while they nap and give them a chance to be a heavy sleeper later on in life. The main point to remember about your newborn, is that they won't be on any kind of sleep pattern for the first couple months. Be sure to nap during the day while they do; you'll need it!
Six months and Older
When your baby is six months old, they should already have a natural sleep schedule appearing. Slowly enforcing a routine for your baby will help them learn to sleep more regularly. Be certain their naps are about the same time every day, and that they don't sleep too close to bedtime. Find a unique bedtime routine. Even as adults, a bedtime routine is a great way to get a good night's sleep. Consider a bath before bedtime or reading a story. Maybe you have a poem or prayer on the wall above his/her crib that you can read to her every night. Perhaps there's a favorite song that you like to sing. Pick one that is calming and comforting.
The Actual Sleep Moment
Laying your baby down in his/her crib for the night is certain to be a challenge. If your baby is used to falling asleep in your arms, they haven't yet learned how to self-sooth by falling asleep alone. That is an important skill to learn, so you will have to wean them off of this habit. As discussed earlier, simply having a routine will begin to help relax your child. Be sure your routine is a couple weeks old, so your child has fully adjusted. When its bedtime, lay them down with their favorite animals, favorite blanket, and anything else that is comforting. Now, walk away. Yep, I know it will be hard, but they will be alright. Most babies will stop crying after five minutes. If they haven't stopped, check and make sure they are okay, give them a hug, and leave. The first night will be hard, but eventually it'll get easier. Before you know it, you'll be able to read a story, tuck them in, and they'll fall fast asleep.
Still not Sleeping Through the Night
But if your baby is still waking up at night to feed, the above process will help solve this problem also. Teaching them to fall asleep by themselves at bedtime will make them feel secure enough to fall back asleep in the middle of the night. Make sure that your baby has plenty of milk before bedtime, so he/she won't be hungry, adhere to your schedule, and hopefully both you and your baby will get some good rest.
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