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Newborn 101: How To Help Your Baby Sleep Better

Stephanie Snyder

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Baby Sleep

Some newborn babies are startlingly good sleepers naturally, but for others, it takes practice and learning. Infants are not developmentally prepared to sleep train until the age of five months, at least. While infants do not develop longer, regular sleep cycles until they are nearing six months old, there are specific steps you can take to assist them on the way to sleep habits that are solid and independent.

What Sleeping Through the Night Means

Scientifically, sleeping through the night refers to sleeping five to eight hours at a time by the age of six months. Some parenting books would have you believe that sleeping through the night adds up to 12 hours, but babies will wake up for night feeds until they have reached five to 12 months old. Soothing practice can assist in the early infancy period. Do not yet practice letting them cry it out. Instead, build trust with your infant; do this by giving them comfort and attention when they are distressed.

Take Conditions Into Consideration

You may have certain expectations for your newborn’s sleep habits based on experience with other infants, books, anecdotes from other parents, and the Internet. However, you should curb those expectations according to the issues your infant may have. If your child has colic or acid reflux, both of which are significant reasons for your infant to experience sleep disruption, your newborn may not be a good sleeper right away. If the birth had complications, the newborn might also fail to be a good sleeper at first.

When to Sleep Train

Certain milestones need to be reached before sleep training can commence. Watch for your infant to begin organizing circadian rhythms. These include remaining awake longer through the day, wishing to sleep around five to eight in the evening, and sleeping for longer durations from the first feeding time. By five months of age, look for signs of self-soothing. These include sucking on their fingers and hands, aking their hands to their midlines, turning off stimulation by burrowing into your armpit, developing a whiny self-soothing cry, and rolling onto the stomach or side. Upon reaching these milestones, sleep training is an option.

Put Your Baby Down before Falling Asleep

You may be tempted to rock your infant until they fall into a deep sleep before carefully placing them in their bassinet or crib. Instead, put your baby in their sleeping place while they are still awake but drowsy. This helps the infant learn to fall asleep independently.

Establishing a Bedtime Routine

When your infant has reached the span between six and 12 weeks of age, it is time to develop a bedtime routine of high quality. This means spending a great deal of time with your infant before the time comes for lights out. This should start an hour before putting your infant down. Try spending some time with your infant on a safe play mat; non-toxic play mats offer an excellent surface for stomach time and playtime. Playing with your infant, holding and snuggling them, reading books, talking, and singing lullabies fills the infant up with plenty of reassurance before the separation of sleepy time.

Following these tips will help you and your newborn to achieve a sound sleeping routine. Even if your infant is not an instant example of a great sleeper, good habits and practices will encourage sleepy sound behaviors. The first six weeks are the most difficult, but once you have gotten past the need for frequent night feedings, you will find the process much more comfortable. You and your infant can then both enjoy a good night’s sleep.

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