British Summer Time is officially over this Sunday, and with the dark nights upon us you cannot help but think about sleep, so what are your top tips for a good night’s sleep for your baby? See below some advice from the American National Sleep Foundation.
Sleep and Newborns (1-2 months)
For newborns, sleep during the early months occurs around the clock and the sleep-wake cycle interacts with the need to be fed, changed and nurtured. Newborns sleep a total of 10.5 to 18 hours a day on an irregular schedule with periods of one to three hours spent awake. The sleep period may last a few minutes to several hours. During sleep, they are often active, twitching their arms and legs, smiling, sucking and generally appearing restless.
Newborns express their need to sleep in different ways. Some fuss, cry, rub their eyes or indicate this need with individual gestures. It is best to put babies to bed when they are sleepy, but not asleep. They are more likely to fall asleep quickly and eventually learn how to get themselves to sleep. Newborns can be encouraged to sleep less during the day by exposing them to light and noise, and by playing more with them in the daytime. As evening approaches, the environment can be quieter and dimmer with less activity.
Sleep Tips for Newborns
- Observe baby’s sleep patterns and identify signs of sleepiness.
- Put baby in the crib when drowsy, not asleep.
- Place baby to sleep on his/her back with face and head clear of blankets and other soft items.
- Encourage night time sleep.
Sleep and Infants (3-11 months)
By six months of age, night time feedings are usually not necessary and many infants sleep through the night; 70-80 percent will do so by nine months of age. Infants typically sleep 9-12 hours during the night and take 30 minute to two-hour naps, one to four times a day – fewer as they reach age one.
When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night. Those who have become accustomed to parental assistance at bedtime often become “signallers” and cry for their parents to help them return to sleep during the night.
Sleep Tips for Infants
- Develop regular daytime and bedtime schedules.
- Create a consistent and enjoyable bedtime routine, such as bath time followed by story reading.
- Establish a regular “sleep friendly” environment.
- Encourage baby to fall asleep independently and to become a “self-soother.”