Sue was a first time mother who was eager to enjoy the first few weeks at home with her baby, Scott. She was advised at the hospital to feed Scott on demand to ensure that he got adequate nutrition. He cried every 1 1/2 to 2 hours throughout the day and night! Within a few weeks Sue was exhausted due to her baby’s sleep problems, feeling ill from lack of sleep herself and suffering from painfully cracked, sore nipples.
These kind of sleep problems with babies are very common – and mostly due to a lack of a sensible routine. This article will give you simple things to concentrate on that will help eliminate those problems and help your baby get a good night’s sleep.
The most important needs a baby has (apart from love of course) are food and sleep. A newborn needs 16 to 20 hours sleep. There is no getting away from the fact that a new baby needs to eat every few hours, but by 6 or 7 weeks old it’s entirely possible to have a healthy baby sleeping without problems for 7 hours during the night – giving you some much needed rest.
The key to success is routine. Top tips for preventing and curing babies’ sleep problems include:
1. Make sure that the baby gets plenty of feeds during the day – otherwise he will wake up hungry more often at night. Most often baby will fall asleep after eating but some babies need soothing music or extra coddling to fall asleep. Some types of discount baby furniture sets come with mobiles or music makers with relaxing sounds to help your little one drift off into lullaby land.
2. For good sleep habits put baby to sleep in her own cot in a dark room – (if you expect her to sleep anywhere and everywhere at your convenience baby sleep problems are likely to develop)
3. The “startle” reflex in newborns is another cause of baby sleep problems. New babies benefit from tight swaddling – otherwise they often wake themselves by startling. Gradually loosen the swaddling as the baby reaches a few months of age.
4. If baby is sleeping too much during the day, don’t be afraid to gently wake him by opening the curtains and loosening the swaddling and talking to him. If he gets too many hours sleep during the day, you can’t be surprised if baby has sleep problems and wants to be awake most of the night!
5. The baby needs to learn to settle herself back to sleep after half-awakening during her sleep cycles at night. If she wakes when she is not needing a feed, try to settle her by talking/petting gently rather than picking her up and cuddling her to sleep. When you feed her at night, if she falls asleep at the breast or bottle, gently half-wake her before putting her into her in her bed, so she goes to sleep in the crib, mattressor cot, rather than being placed in it fast asleep. Otherwise, when she half-wakes later she will be confused. Gradually she will learn that she can get to sleep herself rather than needing you.
6. When you start weaning, don’t reduce baby’s milk intake too quickly, or else he will start waking up more at night again because he is hungry.
Sue’s story had a happy ending – but not before Scott was several months old and the baby’s sleep problem was so bad that his parents were driving him round the block in the car to get him to sleep at night! It was a painful lesson for Sue and her husband, but once they planned and stuck to a regular routine, Scott was able to learn to sleep through the night without problems.
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