When it comes to sleep, newborns tend to have a straightforward schedule because they pretty much spend an average of 16 hours a day sleeping. In fact, most babies won’t develop a regular sleep cycle until sometime around 6 months of age. Of course, thatdoesn’t mean that parents have the luxury of waiting half a year before considering their little one’s sleep schedule.
“Sleeping is one of the first things that babies learn as an independent skill and we have to support them in learning that skill,” says Marianne Jacobson a certified sleep coach, doula and owner of Pediatric Sleep Consulting in Seattle. “Setting up goodsleep habits from the beginning will help baby become a better sleeper.”
Here’s what you need to know about how to help keep baby’s sleep schedule on track now and in the future.
Plan for an early bedtime
According to Jacobson, the most common sleep schedule challenges are often due to baby not getting enough sleep. If your little one goes to sleep too late, or the gap between the end of the last nap and bedtime is too long, baby will probably not sleepwell. What to do? When in doubt, simply put your little one to sleep earlier.
Try to avoid putting baby down when she is super exhausted (eye rubbing and overall fussiness are clues) or when she is already asleep. To help your little one learn how to fall asleep on her own, Jacobson recommends putting baby down when she is awakeand in a “calm and alert” state. This will not only make things easier on you and baby, it’s also a great way to help support your little one in gradually developing the ability to be able to fall asleep without you.
Be a stickler about sleep
“It is imperative that parents maintain baby’s sleep schedule on the weekend,” says Jacobson. Babies can’t distinguish between weekdays and weekends, but they certainly can (and do) react to disrupted schedules. If you’re heading out on a Saturday night,get a sitter so that baby can continue to follow her sleep schedule. You can ensure that baby stays comfortable and dry throughout the night with Huggies® Overnites Diapers. If baby must go with you, squeeze in an extra late nap so that your littleone will have the stamina to stay awake. Just keep in mind, baby’s body clock may be thrown off for at least 24-36 hours after your late night, so you might have to work a little harder to get the sleep schedule back on track.
Monitor daytime calories
When babies get plenty of calories during the day, they are more likely to have an easier time going to sleep at bedtime and getting a better night’s sleep overall. If your little love does not get enough calories in during the day, it could lead to all-nightfeedings as baby tries to catch up on the calories that were not consumed in the daytime. It's always best to discuss with your pediatrician before making any changes, they'll advise you based on your baby's health, age, weight and feeding schedule.
Rule out medical issues
You may find that you are doing everything right and following the best advice, but still your little one does not sleep well. Keep in mind that there are many medical issues that can complicate sleep too. Babies with reflux, sleep apnea, low calorieintake and other medical challenges can definitely have difficulty sleeping. Always contact your pediatrician to discuss any possible medical concerns that you may have about your baby.
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