During the first few months of your child’s life, it’s expected that their (and your) sleeping patterns will be all over the map. With the adjustment of having a newborn to care for, and the fact that they will sleep for shorter periods of time because they will need to eat more often, it is difficult to establish any type of sleep schedule in the beginning. As your child reaches three months old and they have begun having longer stretches between feedings, it’s important to begin establishing a routine to help your baby develop good sleep habits.
Sleep is an important part of their growth as it helps support their mental and physical development. Even in infancy, while children are sleeping, their brains are busy working while they rest. Research shows that when your baby is sleeping and begins to twitch, that is their bodies learning the connection between their brains and their muscles. Developing good sleep habits at a young age will also help them as they grow older as sleep habits can affect a child’s weight. Children who suffer from sleep deprivation may be effecting their leptin hormone which is the hormone that tells a child they have eaten enough. If this hormone has been impacted, a child will continue eating even though they’ve had enough which can lead to obesity.
How much sleep should your baby get each day?
Some children will need more sleep at night and take short naps throughout the day while others may sleep a bit less throughout the night and take substantial naps throughout the day. Though there is no specific time frame that will fit the needs of each child, experts suggest the following for your child’s first year:
0-3 months old: 5 to 18 hours of sleep per day
3-12 months old: 9 to 14 hours of sleep per day
How do you help your baby sleep through the night?
One of the main reasons babies have difficulty sleeping through the night is because they have a tendency to mix up days and nights. If your little one was active when you were pregnant and you felt them move around a lot, you likely noticed they moved around most when you were at rest during the evening and you didn’t feel them as often during the day when you were moving around. It’s important to help them realize when it is day and when it is night. During the day, open the windows and let the light in, play, and be more energetic. When it’s nighttime, be sure to keep the room they sleep in dark and the atmosphere calmer. This will help signal them that it’s now time for sleep.
Other tips to take into consideration:
- Put baby to down sleepy, but not asleep. This will help your child learn to put themselves to sleep and not rely on being rocked and soothe do to so.
- Play a white noise machine. Babies are used to similar sounds when they were in the womb. Not only will these sounds be soothing and familiar, they will help drown out outside noises that could stir them awake.
- Keep the room dark. Some families will use room darkening shades for windows to help keep light out and help baby adjust to day and night.
- Establish a bedtime routine. Families should consider establishing a bedtime routine that include relaxing, calm activities such as having bath time, reading a book, and feeding your baby. These routines will help signal baby that it is time to get ready for bed.
It is important to remember that all babies will be different and different tips and tricks that work for one family, may not work for another. Likely, you will need to use trial and error to find out what works best for yours and continue to be consistent.
What advice would you provide to families that have helped your babies sleep through the night?