Here are the tips for your baby’s sleep hygiene
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Watch how long your baby stays awake:
Babies up to six months need frequent sleep, usually every two hours. Many of them don’t know this and spend the day struggling not to sleep, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need it. It’s up to Mum or another caregiver to provide a good routine, a good environment and get your baby to sleep before he’s super tired. After 6 months, these sleep intervals get longer and longer until your baby’s 13 to 18 months old, when he’s already taking a nap and that’s when he’s sure to stay awake in the morning and other good hours in the afternoon.
When baby refuses to go to sleep and moms don’t realise that he still needs it, even if he doesn’t want to, it can lead to over-tiredness that causes both multiple wake-up problems at night and problems falling asleep at bedtime. Take care of your baby’s sleeping windows and follow their growth.
Provide an environmentally friendly sleep environment
Keep the sleeping environment as free of chemicals as possible, avoiding cleaning products and giving preference to water and vinegar to clean the room. Avoid the presence of many electronic devices that emit magnetic waves. Many still have lights that can wake up the baby. Do you know those little green lights from the baby monitor? Put a rug on them. Also avoid curtains that can collect dust, fabrics that are not cotton in the crib sheets and clothes that are not of natural fabrics like wool or cotton.
Did you know that many plastic toys together can contaminate the air? The best little toys are made of natural fabrics or wood.
Sound like a lot of concern? Remember that a baby stays in his room for most of his life, especially until he’s 3 months old, so take good care of his surroundings.
Pay attention to light, temperature, and noise level.
Luminosity is good for regulating sleep, so we say it is good for the baby to be exposed to natural light during the day. But at night try to keep the environment very dark and also cool. With warmth the baby will wake up more and with cold too. Some babies sleep better with a background noise like a river or a falling rain. If you test and find that your baby likes it, don’t hesitate to leave it on at night and you can download an application from IPAD. Babies with little brothers and sisters who make a lot of noise may also like a white noise in the day’s naps. Worried that your baby will get used to it and then find it hard to get out of the habit? Just reduce the noise a little bit each week.
Understand that your baby’s sleep is not the same as yours and that his sleep is not the same as his neighbour’s
Many mothers tell me that they want to get their babies used to clarity and noise, so they learn to sleep anywhere, making the family’s social life and sleep easier for themselves. Is that right? Hello?
Everybody knows a baby who sleeps with a barbecue stick banging next to him. Is that good? We’re not sure. If he sleeps, it looks good. If he wakes up from that good sleep, it’s even better. Is the quality of his sleep the same as when he sleeps in a quieter, darker place? Maybe so, but maybe his quality of sleep isn’t the same. We know that one time or another, everyone (both the parents and the baby) can handle it well, but if it is too often, the quality of his sleep may be being compromised.
Babies have shorter sleep cycles than adults and spend more time in lighter sleep, REM sleep, the kind of sleep where we accumulate knowledge, where we form memory, that is, the sleep that favors learning. Therefore, they are more likely to wake up more often than we are. And sleep is food. You want to give your child the best food, don’t you? You chose breastfeeding, you chose the most natural solid foods, with less sugar (or none) or when you don’t give breast milk, for one reason or another, you choose the best milk, the best quality in everything is not? Yes, in sleep it is the same thing. Always choose the best sleep for your baby. This sometimes means giving up social life a little so that your baby has the best possible sleep environment. It’ll be worth it!
Some children sleep anywhere, with any level of noise, light and even temperature. Do you know your friend’s baby? Well, some do and need nothing to sleep well and fast. If yours doesn’t sleep anywhere, accept that he’s different, that he needs more time to learn to sleep more independently and will need more help.
Suggested read: Kids: How to put them to sleep for real!
Learn how many hours your baby needs sleep and don’t put him to bed too late
Nowadays, living in big cities, many parents can’t get their babies into bed at a time that they can do all the sleeping hours necessary for their age. A 1 year old baby, for example, should sleep 13 to 14 hours in a 24-hour period and if he sleeps 2 or 3 hours a day, the rest should be at night. If the baby goes to bed very late, as very young children cannot sleep until late in the morning, many end up without the hours of sleep at night that they so badly need. Some parents also try to put their babies to bed later, hoping they wake up later. This is usually not the case. If the baby goes to bed tired, it may even have the opposite effect. When a mother tells me that her baby wakes up too early, the first thing I think is that he’s going to bed too late. And then I suggest putting him to bed early. They even look at me without understanding! But how? Put him to bed early so he can wake up later? Yes, it works on a lot of babies. If a baby needs eleven hours of sleep at night, and goes to sleep at nine at night, he probably won’t wake up at eight. (maybe some will, but most won’t). He’ll probably wake up between 6 and 7 a.m. and have a weekly sleep deficit of at least 7-10 hours a week. That’s a lot.
Some parents claim that if they put their baby to bed early, they don’t stay with them long enough because they work and come home late. Since your baby usually wakes up early, try spending time with him in the morning, if it’s a light day, until you bring him to bed to play a little, maybe relax a little and spend some nice time together. A more rested baby may even have a mini nap at this time, close to you, and you may even get some more rest!
Understand what a sleeping ritual is and why a baby needs a
Sleep ritual is the set of actions you perform, always in the same order , that will signal to the baby that it is time to sleep. An example would be: dinner, bath, breast, reading a booklet and a little lullaby. Another example: dinner, bath, breast, mommy sings music and puts it on the bed. Baby understands that it’s time to go to bed when you start doing the same actions in the same order. Even if it is someone else who performs these actions. This helps baby start to relax to sleep because he understands that it’s time. From the age of 3 months, parents can start with the ritual sleep for the night and a shorter one for naps. A good example is to go to the sleeping environment, close the curtain, turn on the white noise, lull a little and put him to bed. For naps it’s normal to have a little more difficulty to make your baby relax because it’s daytime, it’s clearer, he knows you’re awake and doesn’t want to waste any time and stay with you. But a mum who knows her baby needs to sleep should try as hard as she can, insisting that she put her baby to bed inside age-appropriate sleeping windows.
Understand and accept sleeping difficulties
Getting rid of your baby and yourself from the stress of napping is an important step in making daytime sleep more frequent and less tiring for everyone. Some babies already start screaming as soon as Mummy gets into it, before she even starts the sleep ritual. Is yours like that? Especially around 4 months, that’s a very common scenario. They begin to understand that when they go to sleep Mum is there in the room, and they want to be a part of everything, so they refuse to sleep. This is very stressful for moms who already know that a lack of sleep in a nap can make the end of the afternoon and the beginning of the night very tiring for everyone. But try this: If the baby cried, shouted, got angry, leave the room, play with him for another 10 minutes and try again, in another calmer environment. Have two sleeping environments, all a little lighter than the night but still not very clear. If possible, get your baby used to two sleeping environments. When he refuses one, try another. Relax thinking that if you’re calmer, he’ll stay calmer too. Try during the day like this. And think that if today is not good, tomorrow you try again, tomorrow will be better. Time goes by fast and soon he’ll be more used to this need for sleep… And everything will be fine. Accept it and believe that it’s temporary and it’ll get better. To get your baby’s sleep clean, you should be as stress-free as possible!
Don’t just comfort the baby with your breast
We who breastfeed know that the maternal breast is more than food for the body, it is food for the soul. The baby needs this contact with his mother and sleeping with his breasts in his mouth is much tastier. It’s okay as long as he knows how to sleep in other ways too. If he doesn’t, don’t let him sleep with his breast in his mouth for a while until he knows other ways to sleep. This is important if you don’t think you should have weaned your baby by the time you’re 2 and that it’s his fault for not sleeping well. It’s not! Bottle feeding or formula is not necessary for him to sleep better. Try passing the baby on to other people every day to nest, sing to him, and if it doesn’t work, bring him back on your lap and try again tomorrow. Breastfeed, when you’re almost asleep, take off, nine and sing to him or turn on the white noise. If it doesn’t work, bring it back to his chest, but just a little bit and start again. If you’re too tired, try again tomorrow. One day at a time, without giving up and without making everyone too stressed.
All these tips will be very good if you don’t think that you just start putting them into practice and your life will change like a magical pass. Your baby may need time and it could all be a process of weeks or, in some cases, months. When I talk about months, you may find a lot, but remember that your baby will be dependent on you for years, not weeks or months. You have time to implement changes and by doing so you will be contributing to a healthier and happier family life. Good sleep to all moms and their babies!