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FAQ Sleep Questions

The key to helping your little one fall asleep is creating a comfortable and safe environment. We polled several sleeping experts to find out what essential must-knows can help your baby boy or girl finally calm down and enter the Land of Nod.

How can I help my baby fall asleep?

“The best thing you can do to help your baby fall asleep at night is to create a great sleep environment,” says Haleigh Almquist, Certified Lactation Counselor, Advanced Certified Newborn Care Specialist, Post-Partum Doula and Founder and CEO of Hush Hush Little Baby Newborn Care.

How to create a comfy sleeping space:

  • Make sure the room is completely dark.
  • Have a source of white noise (a fan, pointed away from baby; a white-noise machine, or a radio set to static all work well).
  • Adjust the room temperature to 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your nighttime routine can also help baby fall asleep. “Create a routine that prepares your child to unwind, settle and let go of the day,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”

For a healthy and helpful bedtime routine, try the following:

  • Give baby a bath.
  • Give baby a massage.
  • Cuddle with baby and read a book or sing a song.
  • Put baby to bed slightly awake.
  • Introduce a transitional, self-soothing object like a pacifier.

How much sleep does my baby need and when will my child sleep through the night?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), newborn babies from birth to 3 months require 16-18 hours of sleep each day. By 4 months, your baby should be able to go eight or more hours without eating, and should be ready to sleep through the night. And, by 5 months, baby should only need about 10 hours total of sleep (often spread throughout three sleep sessions daily: two naps and nighttime sleeping). “Sleeping through the night means something different for each family. I consider a period of 6-8 hours of continuous sleep a success. Some babies sleep through the night at 4 months, but for others it may take up to a year,” says Almquist.

How many naps should my baby have — and when?

“Newborns spend more time asleep than they do awake,” Almquist says. “But after 4 months, they should maintain two or three scheduled naps spread throughout the day.”

How do I keep my baby safe while sleeping?

The AAP recommends the following:

  • Always put babies to sleep on their back, never on their stomach.
  • Only put baby to sleep on a firm surface, and remove any objects from inside the crib, particularly crib bumpers.
  • Put newborn babies to sleep in the same room where you will be sleeping, within arm’s reach.
  • No smoking.
  • Let baby sleep with a pacifier. If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier.

How can I help my baby fall asleep?

  1. Shushing: Also, the womb is 80-90 decibels (louder than a vacuum cleaner) thanks to the whooshing of maternal blood flow,” says Melissa Gersin, a maternity RN and infant crying specialist with the Massachusetts Department of Health..“‘Shh-ing’ or white noise (can help), as these mimic the comforting sounds of the womb.”

  2. Rocking and swaying: Rocking or swaying baby mimics the gentle motion of the womb, and can act as a sleep aid.
  3. Sucking: A pacifier or nursing before putting baby down for the night help your little one relax and prepare for a nice, long rest.

About Our Experts:
Dr. Fran Walfish is a Beverly Hills, California-based child, parenting and relationship psychotherapist, and author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” Haleigh Almquist is a Certified Lactation Counselor, Advanced Certified Newborn Care Specialist, Post-Partum Doula and founder and CEO of Hush Hush Little Baby Newborn Care (hushhushlittlebaby.com/). Melissa Gersin is a maternity RN and Massachusetts Department of Health infant crying specialist.

Photo: ThinkstockPhotos.com

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