During the first few months of your child’s life, it is 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 is important to begin establishing a routine to help your baby develop good sleep habits.
At Educational Playcare, being in good physical and mental health is so important to us, that it is one of our Core Values. Sleep is an important part of children’s growth as it helps support their mental and physical development. Even in infancy, while children are sleeping their brains are busy working. Research shows that when your baby moves in their sleep, it is a sign that their bodies are 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 affecting 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 have had enough which can lead to obesity.
Some children will need more sleep at night and take short naps throughout the day while others may sleep a bit less during the night and take substantial naps throughout the day. Though there is no specific time frame that will fit the needs of each and every child, in general, children between the ages of 0-3 months should be sleeping from 5-18 hours per day and children between the ages of 3-12 months should be sleeping from 9-14 hours per day.
So, how do you help your infant fall asleep and stay asleep through the night?
- At about 6-8 weeks old, families can establish a bedtime routine with their infant. Bedtime routines should be calm and quiet in order to help your infant relax. Once you find a routine that works for your infant, be sure to stay consistent, as this routine will help signal your baby that it is time for bed.
- One of the main reasons babies have difficulty sleeping through the night is because they have a tendency to mix up days and nights. It is 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. At night, be sure to keep the room they sleep in dark and the atmosphere calm. This will help signal them that it is now time for sleep.
- As it gets closer to bedtime, participate in calming activities with your infant. For example, give them a bath, rock them in a rocking chair while singing a quiet song, or read them a book.
- Put baby down sleepy, but not asleep. This will help your child learn to put themselves to sleep and not rely on being rocked and soothed do to so.
- Play a white noise machine. Babies are used to similar sounds from when they were in the womb. Not only will these sounds be soothing and familiar, they will also help to drown out outside noises that could stir them awake.
It is important to remember that all babies are different and what works 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, but once you establish your family’s routine, it is important to continue to be consistent.
What advice would you provide to families that have helped your baby sleep through the night?