Sleep strategies that can help you and your new baby get much needed rest
Parenthood is exhausting, especially in those few first weeks after having a new baby. The days and nights tend to blur together, and squeezing in a daily shower becomes difficult. Thankfully, by two to three months of age, many newborns can sleep four to five hour stretches at a time. By four months, most babies can sleep six to seven hours without feeding. The trick is to get your baby sleeping more at night, allowing you much needed sleep to rejuvenate. Below are a few easy sleep strategies that can help you and your new baby get some much needed shut eye.
Settle Down Time
When you are trying to get your baby to sleep, it is imperative you create a calm and soothing atmosphere for your child. Avoid eye contact, since prolonged eye contact is very stimulating for your baby. Keep noise around the house low, watching that televisions and other surrounding electronics are not too loud. Keep the house calm and allow your baby to settle down for bed.
Most importantly, remember that bedtime is not the time for tickles and games. Just like you wouldn't run a few miles right before bed, don't stimulate your baby to play right before bedtime.
Routine, Routine, Routine
One of the easiest strategies for better sleep is to create an easy to follow, relaxing bedtime routine for your baby. An hour before bed, start with a warm bath. Follow up with stories and snuggles, and lay your baby down for the night. Once your baby is in his or her bed, leave them be unless it is an emergency. Crying won't hurt your baby, and they will learn to self soothe, which is critical in developing good sleep habits.
After a few weeks, your baby will recognize your bedtime routine, and falling asleep will be easier for baby and parents.
There are many babies that wake because they are hungry, and a feeding is the only solution to get them back to bed. If this sounds like your bundle of joy, a dreamfeed may help. The term dreamfeed refers to a late night, parent-directed feeding. Instead of waiting for your baby to wake hungry, gently offer them breast or bottle right before you go to bed for the night. Most babies will feed while sleeping, and the extra few ounces may get you a few extra hours of sleep.
Comfort is Key
Just like adults, babies desire cooler temperatures and comfortable pajamas for bedtime. Watch for zippers, uncomfortable snaps or tags and toys in the crib. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping the temperature in your baby's room between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent SIDS. The right pajamas and the right temperature may be your ticket to a better night's sleep for you and your baby.
If your baby is having trouble staying asleep or falling asleep, remember these sleep strategies:
- Bedtime means quiet time. Avoid stimulating your baby with noise, games or prolonged eye contact before bed. Snuggles are recommended.
- Crying won't hurt your baby. Once you leave the room, let them settle down on their own as long as there is no emergency.
- Routine is helpful in all aspects of raising children, and bedtime routines are excellent for infants and parents.
- Dreamfeeds can help babies who wake hungry gain a few extra hours of sleep. If you put baby down at 7pm, dreamfeed before you retire to bed at 10pm.
- Comfort is key. Keep baby in comfortable, soft pajamas and watch the temperature in the bedroom.
While newborns are a joy to have, they are exhausting. If you establish good sleep habits early, you can prevent sleepless nights and overtired mornings for years to come. A little effort and a few simple changes can result in happy rested parents and children.
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