It’s the first month of her life. She sleeps most of the time, often as much as 18-20 hours a day. But her precious sleep is often interrupted and she frequently wakes up to cry! What’s wrong with her? How can you, concerned Mum, help her sleep better?
Frequent Sleep Marks a Transitional Period for Newborns
In the first few days after birth, your baby stays awake for an average of only 2 to 3 minutes per hour during the day and wakes up for even shorter periods at night. During the next month, she’ll stay awake for longer periods of an average of 5 minutes per hour. And over the first three months, her sleeping habits will be pretty similar to her feeding habits – suckling frequently but lightly during breast-feeding, while taking frequent naps. The light and frequent meals are because babies have small stomachs that can only hold food for three hours. You should also understand that babies have zero sense of whether it is day or night!
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As explained by Dr. William Sears from the United States in The Baby Book, newborns are not fully prepared for life outside Mom’s womb. Her first four to six weeks in life are more like a transition phase between two very different survival modes instead of a stage of rapid development. That’s why newborns seek and need comfort. She’ll cry a lot and when not crying she’s usually sleeping. During her first month, her sleep may seem too much, but it is an important way for her to get used to life outside Mom’s womb!
Frequent Sleep Can Stimulate Baby Brain Development
Newborns need a lot of sleep in the weeks after birth. Their sleep is shallower and has a shorter cycle compared to adults. Also, because of their hypersensitivity, sudden changes around newborns can easily frighten them and make them cry, so they wake up often while sleeping, and their superficial sleep time is twice as much as that of adults.
Furthermore, newborns need adult care to fall asleep and whenever they wake up crying during light sleep, they need to be comforted by Mom and Dad in time! Sleep researchers believe that light sleep is good for babies, as it encourages dreams and can create visual imagery that intrinsically stimulates and enhances the baby’s brain development. Sleep is good for getting smart!
How to Soothe a Baby to Sleep: The Need to Help Your Baby Establish a Sleep Routine
During this period, your baby lacks a sense of regularity and any schedule of sleep and feeding will make no sense to her. So, it is impossible for her to have good sleeping habits before she reaches 4 months of age! Generally, babies fed artificially will develop good sleep habits at the end of 6 months, while breastfed babies need to take 8 months to develop good sleep habits.
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Nonetheless, it is still important for you to help her establish a sleep routine! Through extensive observation of newborns, we learned that babies seek comfort or at least relief from discomfort. Whenever they cry they are actually saying, “I’m not feeling comfortable. Come help me!” So you should immediately respond to her, so that she will naturally learn to trust and to be calm in a loving environment. And when she is well taken care of during the day, her sleep at night will become more regular.
3 Tips to Help Newborns Adapt to Their New Environments and Establish a Regular Bedtime Routine
Here are 3 tips you should try to help establish a regular bedtime routine for your baby.
How to soothe a baby to sleep #1: Swaddling helps your baby feel safe
Swaddling mimics the feeling babies get when they’re in the womb, and they feel snug and secure when wrapped comfortably. You can wrap her tightly in a comfy blanket, or choose a special crib that can give the same comfy feels!
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How to soothe a baby to sleep #2: Imitate womb sounds to signal your baby to sleep
To further recreate the environment of Mom’s womb, you can play white noise that imitates the womb to signal sleep time to your baby. For example, after feeding or after changing her diapers, you can give her a Fisher-Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse™ that will play lullabies accompanied by white noise to sooth and calm your baby. She’ll associate Seahorse time with sleep time in no time!
How to soothe a baby to sleep #3: Sleep together or separately? Maybe try both
While there are many different opinions regarding sleeping with your baby separately or together, Dr Sears, an American childcare expert, recommends that you should try out different methods. If you sleep separately with your child, you can swaddle her up nicely and use a rocking crib to gently give her peace of mind. If you are sleeping together, be careful not to let your blanket and pillows affect your baby’s breathing!
In short, during the first few months after your baby’s birth, sleep can help her adapt to her new environment. Establishing a regular bedtime routine not only keeps her asleep and ensures better sleep, but also helps her learn that sleeping can be a carefree state of bliss – like how it should be.
References: William Sears, et al. The Baby Book, Nanhai Publishing Company
This article was contributed by Fisher-Price and republished on theAsianparent with permission.
All parenting advice in this article is only intended for reference. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for help and advice.
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