Chances are, you are
reading this through tired eyes. I know what it’s like, being up most of
the night, trying to get your baby to sleep.
So you might ask yourself, "do I need a baby sleep schedule?"
first few weeks are especially exhausting. There are ways of making it
easier though, your baby could be sleeping longer stretches of time, by incorporating a few techniques and yes, a baby sleep schedule.
On average a baby will sleep about 16 hours per 24 hours, but it is
perfectly normal for a newborn baby to sleep 10 hours or 23 hours per day.
By the time your baby reaches a place where he/she is sleeping through at night, you will have plenty time to rest. So, let’s discuss a few tips that will get you there faster.
A Bedtime Routine is Important
If you are breastfeeding and would like to start night weaning your baby (6 months and older)
Try to keep to a specific bath time / bedtime routine.
Ensure that there is calm and quiet after about 6pm in the
evening, from there you can bath your baby, read a story, breastfeed her/him
and put them to bed.
This routine should occur in the same order and time, every evening, so that Baby
knows what to expect. Implementing theses steps, will help your baby sleep. Babies love consistency.
- Keep your baby sleep schedule routine to a maximm of 20 minutes, longer than this, and it might become too stimulating.
- For older babies, sticking to a nap time routine during the day, will ensure better sleep at night.
Keeping your baby from sleeping during the day, will not help him/her
sleep longer at night. Keeping your baby from daytime naps, will hamper sleep at night, due to your baby being overtired.
- Keep to specific nap times during the day. Three short nap times are usually enough.
How long should baby sleep? By 6 months, your baby should be sleeping a
total of about 14 hours every 24 hours. (naps included)
- Co-sleeping for the first few weeks, can mean
the difference between a few hours of sleep and a full night's sleep.
- An overtired baby will struggle to fall asleep and
stay asleep. Try putting your baby to sleep a little earlier in the evenings, if you think
this is the case.
- A baby (4 months and older) that wakes up in
the middle of the night, is not necessarily hungry, they might just have
had a dream. Sleep
disturbances, usually occur during developmental milestones, like when your baby is learning to sit and/or crawl.
- You don’t need to
change your baby’s diaper every time you enter the room at night. Try to
do this, only if the diaper is very full, or if your baby has had a poop. A
diaper change, is a sure way to wake your baby! Also, if you have to do a
diaper change, use a warm cloth instead of a cold wet wipe.
For those middle of the night feedings, if
you need to change your baby’s diaper, it's best to change it before the feeding.
- Wake your baby at a specific time
every morning. Your baby will be more likely to keep to a specific baby
sleep schedule, if you do this.
- Getting Baby to sleep
alone: Let your baby fall asleep by him/herself. If your baby wakes up in
the middle of the night, allow some time to see if your baby will fall asleep
again, without going into the room.
Also during the day, make a habit
of allowing your baby (when drowsy) to fall asleep on their own, without always being held. This will teach your baby to self soothe.
looking into your baby’s eyes, when putting your baby to sleep. Your baby might interpret your eye contact as an invitation to play, which is not what you want. You want your baby to sleep.
- Put the light off: Even if you have to use a night light, the
darker the room, the better; as soon as the lights
go out, the brain starts to release the sleep hormone melatonin.
- If your baby sleeps more during the day than at night, it's best to keep the room full of light during daytime naps.
- Only return to your baby’s room at night, if you are sure that your baby is
fully awake, sometimes a mother will go into the room too soon with just a
peep sound. Baby might fall asleep on his/her own, immediately after making the sound.
Also, don’t go into the room too late; if your baby is screaming
he/she will be wide awake, making it more difficult to get your baby settled down again.
- Try to refrain from rocking your baby to sleep, your baby needs to learn to
fall asleep without this. Putting and leaving your baby to sleep in a moving swing is not recommended, as this prevents your baby from falling into a deep sleep.
- Some believe that swaddling can help babies sleep faster and for longer periods of time.
- Help Baby sleep with white noise: You can purchase special Baby audio
for this, or play some soft, relaxing music of your own.
- Baby can not sleep with a blocked nose: This can definitely keep
him/her awake. A blocked nose, is not always a symptom of a cold or flu,
many newborns suffer with blocked noses from other irritants. Also make
sure the room is dust free.