For most parents, sleep becomes a bit of a taboo subject. Some babies will sleep for hours upon end, whereas others will wake up repeatedly throughout the night. Then you have the minority who will sleep through the night without a fuss in their early days.
Despite what society will have you believe, newborns are expected to wake regularly throughout the night to feed. Their tummies are simply not big enough to keep them full during a whole night’s sleep! As they grow, nighttime feeds will become less frequent, and with it, you can generally expect your babe to start sleeping for longer.
Sleep is a learned skill. Here is our guide to help your baby sleep through the whole night:
Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Whole Night
Routine is the key!
Children love routine. It allows them to know what to expect from their day, how much time they have to carry out a task and when lunch is likely to arrive. It may surprise you, but most routines are established from birth, and it’s never too early to start!
When thinking about your little one’s bedtime routine, it needs to be something that works well and is sustainable as you will be doing it every night. Creating positive sleep associations will encourage your baby to settle down without constantly relying on your presence.
What’s more, having a consistent bedtime will allow your babe’s body and mind to prepare for sleep. So much so that our bodies have a remarkable circadian rhythm system in place known as the sleep-wake cycle. It’s how we know how to differentiate between day and night. When working correctly, your baby will get more restorative sleep throughout the night.
When your babe moves out of the newborn stage and sleep is still hard to come by, you may want to consider a kids weighted blanket. Children fall asleep quicker and have better sleep quality, and it’s all down to deep tissue stimulation. So it’s like having a warm hug throughout the night!
A regular fixture to any baby’s bedtime routine is a bath. Not only is it a soothing, sensory experience and gets your little one clean and fresh for their night ahead, but the warm water makes your babe’s core body temperature rise. After getting out of a bath, your baby’s body temperature starts to cool, which can help your infant fall asleep more easily.
According to research, a drop in your body’s core temperature is a signal to your body that it is time to sleep. As a bonus, baths are extra comforting to a newborn as they recreate the sensation of the womb.
Baths are undeniably a good thing. Always remember though, that too much warm water can dry your baby’s skin out, especially if they are already prone to eczema. So the little and often approach is generally recommended.
The importance of ambience
Creating a comforting ambience can be a real game-changer for your baby. Try and keep the room at a comfortable temperature so they don’t overheat or get too cold. If you can make the room as dark as possible, with a bit of white noise, your babe will get to grips with that all-important sleep-wake cycle in no time.
Consistency is key throughout parenting. So whatever decisions or routines you make for your baby, try and stick to them. The slightest change can make a significant difference in how well your baby sleeps.
Skin on skin is not only recommended for encouraging your baby to feed, but it also helps them to feel calmer and connected to you. Giving your baby a massage before bed has all the benefits of skin on skin and is incredibly relaxing.
According to sleep specialist and associate professor of paediatrics, Dr Meltzer, baby massage can “help foster infant development” and “it also helps make falling asleep a little easier.”
What’s more, it’s super easy! All you need is a baby-friendly lotion and apply using gentle, circular strokes over your child’s body. Ensure you avoid their hands and eyes, and your baby will feel calm and ready for the night ahead.
Snuggle up with a good book
Reading to your baby is one of the most beneficial activities you can do to encourage their speech and language development. It’s also never too early to start! The more you read to your baby aloud, the more they will understand about their own native language, culture and the world around them.
It’s also the perfect pre-slumber activity. Rather than relying on screens to get your child prepared for bed, a good story will help them unwind from their day’s activities. It will take them to another world full of fairies, teddies or adventure. So as they drift off, their dreams can take form as they head towards the restorative sleep part of their snooze. Magic.
Babies have an extraordinary task on their hands. Not only do they have to figure out how they fit into the big, wide world, but they have to cope with huge learning leaps. Sleep regression and growth spurts are the enemy for parents but essential for your baby’s development.
Remember, growth spurts only last for a few days. So if your baby was sleeping well before, it’s likely that they will resume their normal patterns of behaviour. Sleep regression can last between one to four weeks. So try and focus on the fact that it will end, and you can sleep again one day!
If you need extra support, there are a series of Apps available, like the award-winning Wonder Weeks, that explains what “leaps” look like for your growing baby in detail.
Life with a baby is no small task. From growth spurts to sleep regression, they have a lot to cope with and learn in their journey. As parents, it may feel like you’ll never sleep again! But remember, all of these moments are only momentary!
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