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Sun, 11 Dec 16
Your baby grows and develops in so many areas over their first weeks and months of life, sleep included. Newborns obviously don’t pop out of the womb sleeping through the night and knowing that being put down in the crib means it’s time to nap! Their sleep will evolve – at whatever pace is right for them – from newborn sleep to baby sleep to toddler sleep and eventually to what we think of as “normal” sleep. You can help your baby to develop good sleep habits just like you’re helping her develop all those other new skills: with patience and confidence that she’ll get there…eventually. But all that is small comfort when you haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in a month. Courage, new parent! This too shall pass! And in the meantime, Kim West LCSW-C, The Sleep Lady®, our resident sleep expert and author of “The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy,” has a few tips on how you can gently encourage your baby’s sleep to develop in a more grownup-friendly direction.
Newborns have natural sleep-wake cycles, almost completely independent of what is going on around them. For the first 3 – 4 months of their lives, the key is really to work with these cycles, not against them. Pay attention to your baby’s natural schedule and work with it as best you can: trade off with your partner, get a babysitter, find quiet activities to help you get through those times at night when baby is awake but you would rather be sleeping. Your baby will not be ready for sleep training until she is 6 – 8 months old.
Very important, says Kim, is to notice that your baby will not naturally stay awake longer than 1.5 – 2 hours. Learn to recognize his sleep cues – does he get fussy? quiet? clingy? – and let him fall asleep when you see them. Keeping a baby awake will likely result in an overtired baby and a disrupted sleep schedule – not, as many parents hope, a longer nap.
As babies grow, they will generally start having one longer stretch of sleep at some point. If this longer nap seems to be developing during the day, but you’d rather it happened at night, try gently waking your baby after she has slept for the length of a normal nap.
Babies don’t have fully developed day-night rhythms at first. Help them learn day and night by making sure they get plenty of daylight and action – open curtains, walks outside, attention and activity – during the day; and keeping things dark, quiet, and calm at night.
In addition to needing a certain amount of stimulation, sleep, and nutrition, babies need a lot of physical contact. Try doing lots of carrying and cuddling during the day to fill up those “touch reserves” so your baby doesn’t crave this as much at night.
The Evoz Smart Baby Monitor can help you during the day to make use of that precious nap time during the day to catch up on other parts of your life, and at night to see when your baby needs attention. You can also use our intuitive app for iOS and Android to track your baby’s schedule, which can really help you as you integrate this tiny new person into your family! And if you need to talk to your pediatrician or a sleep consultant about your struggles, those data are right at your fingertips.
Hang in there!
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