The Miracle of Sleep: Tips for You and Your Baby
Laura Teeter, LCSW, Family Specialist, Domestic Infant Program
The first several weeks home with your baby are often consumed with the simple, yet demanding task of responding to the needs of the new little person in your life. Typically, your days will be dominated by feedings, changing diapers, and negotiating sleep when and wherever possible! If your baby has been in a temporary foster home, you may already know what to expect in terms of a routine. Even then, that routine can change once you are all settled in together. Achieving a healthy amount of sleep is important for you and your baby. Here we hope to share some tips for getting your baby to sleep and helping him/her sleep longer and more soundly.
1. Have realistic (and flexible) expectations. It is good to keep in mind that specific patterns are very developmentally appropriate .
* 0-3 months: Typically sleep 18 hours out of 24, in 2-4 hour stretches.
* 3-6 months: Typically sleep 15 hours out of 24, are up approximately 2 times a night, and take at least 3 naps during the day.
* 6-9 months: Typically sleep 14 hours out of 24, possibly 7 hour stretches during the night, and probably take 2 good naps during the day.
* 9-12 months: Typically the baby will be sleeping for 11-12 hours at night, and taking 2 naps during the day.
2. Know the signs that your baby is overly tired. Sometimes they are easy to miss!
* Whines or cries with even slight interaction.
* Yawns and stretches often.
* Loses interest in toys or people.
* Rubs eyes.
* Becomes quiet and still, or stares blankly.
3. Create a calming bed time routine. Help your baby understand it is time to wind down. You can use methods such as a warm bath, cuddle time, reading, rocking, massage, singing, etc. Establishing a settling down routine is important, and also helps your baby to associate sleep with several different soothing methods.
4. Promote a lot of activity during awake time. A day full of stimulation can help your baby sleep more soundly during naps or at night.
5. Expect movement during sleep. Often times, babies will kick, squirm, or make noise while sleeping. If there is no obvious discomfort, give them a few minutes before deciding to wake them up in order to change or feed.
6. A full belly = a happy, sleepy baby. Make sure to feed your baby before sleep either with a bottle, or a few bites of cereal if age appropriate.
7. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Everything else can wait, or be done by other people. Your sleep is just as important as your baby’s. Also, give yourself permission not to bed share when you really need some rest. Being attuned to your baby’s every movement will disrupt your ability to get much needed sleep.
As you share this new adventure with other parents, there will always be those who swear by a particular miracle technique which may leave you feeling like an inadequate parent. Remember, every baby is different, and there is no one right answer. You are new at this, the baby is new at this, and with time and a little patience, you will figure it out together.
Developing Good Sleep Habits: An Age by Age Guide (Baby Centre UK) – http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/sleep/agebyageguide/
Baby Sleep: Helping a Baby Sleep through the Night (Mayo Clinic) – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-sleep/FL00118
New Parents: Getting the Sleep You Need (Mayo Clinic) –
31 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep and Stay Asleep –