When will my baby sleep through? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

When will my baby sleep through?

The golden question: “When should my baby sleep through?” is one that needs answering as it determines what is reasonable to expect from your baby. Sleeping through is not just a luxury, it’s a developmental necessity. Both for you and your baby, a good night’s sleep is important. Firstly, it needs to be pointed out that sleeping through constitutes sleeping 10 or more hours at a stretch. This would mean that if your baby’s bedtime is between 6 pm and 7pm (as it should be) that could mean a waking at 4 am to 5 am. Many babies will go back to sleep after this time with a feed or a cuddle. If your toddler wakes for the day at this time, keep interactions muted and take him quietly into your bed with you and see if he will fall back to sleep. Under 6 months of age babies have nutritional needs at night that systematically decrease as the baby gets older. Having said this, some babies sleep do through the night as early as 3 months of age but many of these will experience disruption once again between 4 and 6 months. Most babies should be expected to sleep through the night by seven months old. Like other developmental milestones, sleep has certain norms that obviously are flexible as with any other milestone. The following are the norms for sleep at night: 2 – 6 weeks – one 4 – 5 hour stretch between night feeds and 3 hourly thereafter 6 - 12 weeks - one 6 – 7 hour stretch between night feeds then 3 hourly through the night 3 – 6 months - 10 – 12 hours at night 6 – 12 months - 10 – 12 hours at night 3 – 5 years old 11 hours per night as day sleep is dropped If your baby is ill he will not sleep through and will wake for comfort. If you have a low birth weight, premature or a baby with failure to thrive, he will not sleep through until later than other babies. If your baby learns to self sooth for incidental night wakings, i.e. those without organic causes such as hunger or illness, he will be a good sleeper. Even good sleepers who are sleeping through by 6 months old will occasionally suffer disrupted sleep for a few nights, but after the cause such as teething, hunger or illness is resolved, will return to being good sleepers. Broken sleep is debilitating but if your baby is young, hang in there it won’t be long before you see the light. If your baby is older and is not sleeping through you need to go through the process of elimination to establish why your baby is waking. Thereafter you may need to help your baby learn strategies to fall asleep independently so you can get a good night’s sleep. By Meg Faure
How to deal with a toddler roaming at night - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

How to deal with a toddler roaming at night

As soon as your toddler outgrows his cot, and makes the transition into a ‘big bed’, there may be some high jinks at bedtime. Most parents do want to foster night-time independence in their toddlers, and really do feel quite desperate at the thought of another night spent negotiating with a roaming toddler. Some children simply find that this new found freedom is a wonderful excuse for prolonged bedtimes, plus frequent visits to mom and dad’s bedroom throughout the night! If you have no issues with this, and love having your toddler sleep with you, read no further! Seriously though, before looking at bedtime and sleep itself you need to be sure your toddler is primed for good sleep habits. A clean bill of health is a good start, as is a sleep zone that supports sleep. Make sure his room is entirely safe so that he cannot harm himself. At this age, he already has deeply entrenched expectations and associations related to where and how he goes to sleep, and you can use them to your advantage Keep the light very dim and muted or use a night light, so that your toddler is never left alone in the dark. His imagination is developing at this age, which might make him fearful of dark shadows. By now you know the importance of a regular day sleep routine, but a regular bedtime routine is just as important. Bedtime is often the period of time when your little toddler is at his most unsettled. If there is no pattern to his bedtime rituals such as a quiet bath, followed by the last drink of the day (that’s milk, not wine!) in a calm sleep zone, your little toddler will not begin to recognize the necessary sensory cues that prompt sleep. Remember separation anxiety is real, and a normal phase of toddler development that may affect sleep. This phase will pass, but while it lasts, to avoid long term bad habits developing, be firm about not falling into the trap of feeding, rocking or co-sleeping if these are habits you do not wish to encourage. At this stage your toddler may become anxious at bedtime, and may call out to you frequently during the night, or come through to your room due to fears of being alone. This is typical at this age, as your toddler is developing imagination and may begin to suffer from nightmares and imagined ‘boogymen’. Use strategies to normalize separations for your toddler by playing games during the day such as peek a boo and hide and seek. Every toddler is different and the degree to which yours will be affected may vary substantially from other toddlers you know. When you are ready to tackle the situation, bear the following in mind: Boundaries need to be clearly set, and negotiations can happen within these predetermined boundaries. Your toddler needs to understand clearly the sleep boundaries you have for him. All the role players in the care of your toddler need to agree on sleep boundaries. Keep a night light on in his room or in the passage or bathroom, so that he is not in the dark should he wake. Limit television completely for at least two to three hours before bed as this has been linked to fears and increased nightmares. Encourage the use of a comfort object such as a blanket or a soft toy, and keep it in his bed so that bedtime holds that attraction of his special sensory comforter. It will also be available for comfort when he wakes in the night. Let’s do it At bedtime, if your toddler begins to negotiate or protest or jumps out of bed within minutes of you leaving the room, he needs to be taught how to put himself to sleep. This is what you must also do when he comes through to you at night. At some stage (yes, it will happen to you) many toddlers wake up and wander through to their parent’s bedroom. Begin by instilling a boundary and consistently lead your toddler back to his bed when this happens. The goal is to have your toddler sleep in his bed. Walk him back to back to bed, without admonishing him or raising your voice. Stay calm, confident and focused and encourage his comfort object. Respond by acknowledging his request: Say to him “I know you want me to stay with you Empathise so he feels understood by mirroring his request: Say to him “I would love to stay with you” Give a reason: Say to him “But I can’t because it is time to sleep” Offer an alternative solution. Say to him “ Why don’t you rather lie here with your special teddy, and I’ll sit on the bed next to you” Set a boundary: Say to him “If you lie down and go to sleep, I will sit with you until you fall asleep” Give a consequence: Say to him “If you get up again, I will have to leave”. For as long as your toddler stays in bed and makes an effort to be quiet and go to sleep, sit with him until he falls asleep (no matter how long it takes, so be prepared for this). You must stick to your end of the deal if he sticks to his. If he breaks his end of the deal, by getting up, you must remind him about the deal you made, offer him a chance to try again, but if he resists, then get up and leave the room and close the door so that he can’t follow. It is important that he remains in his room so if he is able to open the door himself install a latch. Don’t worry about leaving him behind a closed door. You are simply making sure that his room is containing him much the same as he was contained in his cot before. This is why it is important to have a night-light on and to make his room a safe environment for him. From outside the room, tell him you will return when he gets back into bed. As soon as you see/hear him get onto his bed, OR after one minute of crying (whatever happens first), go back in to his room quietly and calmly. Resist the temptation to raise your voice. If he is crying, calm him down with a hug, encourage his comfort object, wait until he has stopped crying, then re-negotiate with him. (Remember to acknowledge and empathise with his request, then give him a reason, a boundary and a consequence). Leave the room if he does not comply with the boundary you have offered him (which is to stay with him until he falls asleep provided he lies in his bed). Close the door. Return immediately to him if he does get back into bed, and praise him for listening to you. Reward him by staying with him until he falls asleep. If he cries and bangs on the door, wait for two minutes before you return to re-negotiate with him. Remember to stay calm and focused, never raise your voice and offer him lots of calming stimuli such as a hug and his comfort object. He needs to be calm again before you can re-negotiate with him. Be prepared for this to take some time. Keep going in this manner – return to him as soon as he is back in bed, OR if he will not stay in his bed and bangs on the door, increase the period of time before you respond to him by one minute each time until he eventually falls asleep. Repeat the procedure each time he wakes during the first night. If he complies with your boundary (by staying in his bed) always reward him by staying with him as you have promised (no matter how tedious you may find this in the middle of the night) until he falls asleep. If he will not comply (by jumping out of bed and running away), leave the room, close the door and leave him for one minute until you return quietly and calmly to re-negotiate! If you do have to leave the room, increase the period of time by one minute each time, until he eventually falls asleep. By the second or third night, your toddler has probably realised that if he does as you ask him (which is to stop the high jinks at sleep time), you will sit with him on the bed until he goes to sleep at bedtime, and if he wakes during the night. When this is consistently happening, it is time to move to the next step. Be patient, it may take time to get to this step. Begin bedtime in exactly the same way, but tell him (by acknowledging empathizing and reasoning with a boundary and a consequence) that you will no longer be sitting on the bed with him, but will rather be sitting in a chair alongside the bed. As before, complete your negotiation with him. If he complies with your boundary (which is to stay in his bed and go to sleep) you will stay in his room with him, but you will be in the chair. If he does not comply with your boundary, then follow the same procedure as before by going out of the room and closing the door. Continue with the programme as you did before, until he falls asleep. When he is happy to stay in his bed and go to sleep as long as you are sitting in the chair (at bedtime and when he wakes in the night), move to the next step. Bear in mind it may take you a few nights to achieve this – be patient, loving and consistent. Move the chair away from his bed to another part of the room as close to the door as possible. Repeat the sleep modification steps as above until he is happy to go to sleep in his bed with you sitting in the sleep zone apart from him. The next step is to move the chair out of the room (tell him that you have given it to the poor children). At bedtime, simply ‘linger’ in the room, maybe even stepping into the bathroom for a second or two (always reassure him that you will be back) before returning to ‘linger’ once more. Repeat the sleep modification steps as above until he is happy to go to sleep in his bed as long as you are ‘lingering’ around. The final step (this step may have taken you as little as a few days to reach, or it may be a week down the line by now), is to tell him you need to leave the room for a minute to perform a task. Reassure him that when you are finished your task you promise to return. Do as you have promised and return. Don’t forget to praise him each time you return if he has stayed in his bed. Keep popping in and out, but gradually increase the amount of time you spend out of his room. Repeat the sleep modification steps as above until he is happy to fall asleep in his bed as long as you continue to pop in and out. After a few nights of this you will return after your first absence to find him asleep. At last! Your toddler has learnt the new technique of falling asleep independently. Once your toddler is generally sleeping in his bed, you may still find he has the odd night when he is very distressed when he wakes. These are the times when he may be distraught due to a nightmare and imagination fears or separation anxiety. When this happens you may need to allow him to sleep next to your bed. By not allowing him into your bed and not making his makeshift bed too comfortable, you will not instil long lasting habits. Know that it will not last forever and is usually a passing stage. However, if it becomes a nightly occurrence and is a problem for you, start to make it less easy for him to do. Always take him back to his room first. If he insists on returning to your bedroom let him carry his own bedding and settle himself. Allowing your toddler to sleep on the floor next to you whilst you are undoing the unhealthy sleep habit of having him in your bed, may be a necessary process you will need to undertake whilst you foster confidence in him to become independent. However, if your toddler is persistently coming through to you a night, and insisting on getting into your bed, this again is a scenario that you could leave as it is if it is not an issue with you. When you are ready to reclaim your sleep space, allow him to sleep on a mattress or some continental pillows next to your bed to help him with the transition to his own room. Remember to always acknowledge his feeling: “I know you want to be in the bed with me.” Then mirror the feeling by saying “I love having you in the bed,” Then give a reason why he can’t be in the bed with you “This is my bed, and there is too little space now that you are bigger” Offer an alternative: “Why don’t you lie on the floor next to me and I’ll hold your hand” You will need to follow through on this boundary and be firm about him not getting back into your bed. If he will not lie on the floor next to you, take him back to his bed. At this point, you may have to start adopting some sleep training strategies as mentioned above. Useful tips: If your toddler voices a fear about ‘the bogeyman’, a very useful trick is to buy a plastic spray bottle from the supermarket. Fill it with coloured water, and label it ‘bogeyman spray’. As part of his bedtime ritual, allow him to spray his bed and around his sleep zone with this solution. This empowering gesture will help him to feel in control of his fears. Reassure him that he can use it again should he wake in the night. Teach your toddler these sleep rules early and repeat them often: At bedtime we stay in bed close our eyes stay very quiet and go to sleep By Meg Faure
Sleep routines for your baby - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

Sleep routines for your baby

Guidelines for different sleep routines at different ages. Every mom and baby is different and a routine that proposes to be a one fits all is not realistic. Here are guidelines for different routines at different ages: Routines for newborns Your newborn is too little to have a fixed routine and routines at this age generally do more harm than good. Here are the principles: Don’t aim for routine at this stage Feed on demand Expect your baby to wake as frequently day and night • Aim to settle your baby to sleep after an hour of awake time during the day Routines for 2 – 4 months Patterns begin to emerge, with your baby guiding the way; a routine may be possible in this age band: Feed 3-4 hourly At nights your baby will begin to stretch the time between feeds Put your baby to sleep during the day after 1 ½ hours of awake time Read more about awake times Routines for 4-6 months Routines begin to emerge in earnest and most babies do well with the predictability of when to sleep and when to feed: Feed on schedule with flexibility – 3-4 hours between milk feeds. Solids may be introduced during this time, if your baby needs solids Read more on introducing solids Introduce a consistent bedtime routine that calms your baby for sleep. Do not leave your baby’s bathroom and room during this time Suggested day sleep routine: Wake between 5 and 7am Wake +1 ½ hours = morning nap – 45 minutes Wake +1 ½ hours = late morning nap or sleep If this sleep short – wake +1 ½ hours = afternoon nap and another cat nap at 5pm (4 sleeps) If this sleep is long – wake + 2 hours = afternoon nap Wake from naps by 5pm Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed Bedtime by 6:30 Routines for 6- 9 months At this age, routines can make the difference between a good eater and sleeper or poor habits: Day sleep routine: Wake between 5 and 7am Wake +2 hours = morning nap – 45 minutes Wake +2 hours = midday sleep Wake + 2 ½ hours = afternoon nap Wake from naps by 4:30pm Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed Bedtime by 6:30 Routines for 9-12 months A good day sleep and feeding routine assists good night sleep habits: Day sleep routine: Wake between 5 and 7am Wake +2 ½ hours = morning nap – 45 minutes Wake +2 ½ hours = midday sleep From 9 months - drop afternoon nap Wake from naps by 4pm i.e. very short cat nap if needed Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed Bedtime by 6:30 Routines for toddlers By now a routine should be a way of life and will free you up in many ways: Day sleep routine: 6-7am Wake 11:30 lunch 12pm – one midday sleep Wake from sleep by 3pm Bedtime routine starts 1 hour before bed Bedtime by 6:30- 7pm Routines are not a priority If you are a go-with the flow, laissez-faire type person you may not want a routine at all and that is perfectly good, particularly if you have a settled baby. Read more about baby personality By Meg Faure
Sleep for the first 4 years summarized - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Sleep for the first 4 years summarized

Herewith, an easy to use table outlining your little one’s sleep for the first 4 years covering hours of sleep required, number of day sleeps, and common problems to rule out. “When will my baby sleep through the night?” “Why is he waking at night?” “When should she sleep during the day?” These are just a few of the very common questions I am asked each month. I have come to realize that possibly the one thing every parent wants is a guideline for what they can expect when it comes to sleep. Although every baby and mum is different, there are simple guidelines that can be generalized to most babies. Herewith, an easy to use table outlining your little one’s sleep for the first 4 years. By Meg Faure
When and how to put your baby to sleep - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

When and how to put your baby to sleep

‘Put your baby down to sleep awake’ is common advice and very frustrating for many parents. It is frustrating because many babies just begin to cry when they are put down awake and it is just easier and shorter if you rock your baby or feed your baby to sleep. Try to imagine that you are told to go to sleep, 3 minutes after an exciting sports game or in the middle of a birthday party. The chances are that you would battle to fall asleep, just as you do when on a long distance flight abroad. The fact of the matter is that the how and when of sleep are so important that unless they are focused on your baby will not just drop off to sleep. When: Your baby is most likely to fall asleep during her natural dip in alertness. Just as you have a natural dip in alertness in the early afternoon, your baby has similar but more frequent dips. We call these periods of time awake times. By watching how long your baby has been awake, you will know when you should put your baby down. Watch for your baby’s signals of tiredness: Rubbing eyes Looking away Grimacing Sucking her hands in attempt to self sooth Busy and irritable How: Once the awake time is up, take your baby to her room and enact a bedtime routine to help her go from alert and awake to drowsy and ready for sleep: Dim the room Lack of light stimulates the release of melatonin, our sleep hormone, prepping your baby for sleep Change her nappy Make sure she is dry and comfortable for sleep Swaddle your young baby or wrap your older baby with hands free Hold her calmly in your arms and rock her gently humming a lullaby or use white noise Rock her until she has a double long blink – in other words she shows you she is really drowsy Put her down to sleep Keeping her swaddled and without dipping her head down, lower her into her crib. Troubleshoot If she starts to cry immediately, keep your hand on her and rock her gently or pat her until she settles. If she cries really hard, pick her up and start the process of getting her into a drowsy state all over again.These little tips will work well for most babies. If you still are battling, get hold of our bookSleep Sense which deals with the problems of sleep and babies and toddlers in great detail. By Meg Faure
Your baby’s routine and sleep - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Your baby’s routine and sleep

Babies function best with a routine. But this concept is easily abused and taken to the extreme. Like you, your baby has an in-built time clock and physical needs; however these needs differ substantially from yours. Where you only need eight hours sleep a night, your baby needs anywhere from 18 or 20 hours (for a newborn) to 14 hours (for a toddler), per 24 hour cycle. Where your baby’s sleep habits differ most from yours is that he has periods of time we call awake times, which are periods of time in which he can be happily awake. During this time he will be happy and interactive, learning from his environment. If this period is stretched, in other words your baby is kept awake for longer than his ideal awake time, he will become needy, easily over stimulated and generally irritable. In addition to this he will not naturally fall into a sleepy state and thus will be more difficult to get to sleep. Where rigid, prescribed routines go wrong is that a baby is forced to sleep at his mother’s convenience or at a predetermined time each day. If this time happens to be before his awake time is up, he won’t want to fall asleep. But more commonly it is once he is overtired and the natural lull in his states has been missed. So being overtired and needy he is significantly more difficult to get to sleep. An example of a rigid routine that is a recipe for an irritable baby and highly anxious mother is one where a two week old baby must have a morning sleep at 9am, having woken at 7am. This would mean he must stay awake for two hours. The ideal ‘awake time’ for newborns is an hour at the most. Waiting two hours, just to stick to a predetermined time makes no sense, as newborns literally can’t cope being awake this long. Furthermore, the baby may have woken at 6am in which case it would be a three hour stretch which is a recipe for a very irritable baby. A baby-centric approach would be to have the guidelines of ‘awake time’ for each developmental age, as found in Baby Sense and then more importantly to learn to read your baby’s signals. Practically this would entail watching the clock to see what time your baby wakes and then make sure to watch that your baby goes down according to his ‘awake times’. In addition to this you should watch for your baby’s own signals. Signals that a baby is tired include rubbing eyes, sucking hands, touching ears, looking into space, drowsy eyes or many other self-soothing strategies. When your baby shows the signs of drowsiness, he should be put down to sleep. In this way, your baby dictates his sleep times in two ways: firstly according to developmental norms and then according to his own capacity for interactions, by signaling when he is tired. Being tuned to your own baby’s needs will help you to put her baby down more easily and in that way establish healthy day sleep routines. By Meg Faure
How much sleep does my baby need? - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

How much sleep does my baby need?

The expectations of the pregnant woman: ‘My baby will sleep and be awake in equal amounts and we will play and feed and I will have time to do it all, no sweat.’ The mom of the newborn says: ‘Wow my baby sleeps all day and is so good yet I feel like I have got time for nothing – I barely get myself to make a cup of tea in a day.’ Which a few weeks later becomes: ‘Oh my word I can’t get my baby down – he is awake all day, and now I don’t even shower in a day never mind make a cup of tea!!’ So what is reasonable – what should we expect – how much should our babies sleep? Newborns sleep more than most people imagine. I believe this is a coping mechanism to deal with the busy world and in fact works very effectively. You will probably find that in the first two weeks your baby will sleep an enormous amount and may also be very calm. Your sleepy baby may sleep from one feed to the next and often fall asleep during a feed. This is good for your baby so do not follow any advice to wake your baby unless he is not gaining enough weight. The only other exception is if your sleepy baby is going to stretch more than four hours between day feeds. In this case, wake your baby to feed. The newborn needs to go back to sleep after only being awake for 40 – 50 minutes, which means your newborn may well sleep for more than 16 hours a day, being awake only for feeds. 2 weeks – 3 months is when day sleep frustrations raise their ugly heads. Your sleepy newborn may now start to fight going to sleep and may only cat nap when he does finally fall asleep. It is not uncommon for moms to report that their baby is awake most of the day, sleeping fitfully in short spells during the day. These babies classically feed very frequently, have colic in the evening and wake often at night. If you find yourself in this predicament, it is probably directly as a result of a young baby not getting enough day sleep. Your young baby needs to go to sleep after only 45 – 80 minutes of being awake. This will result in around 15 hours sleep a day. 3 – 6 months down the line, you will probably be craving some routine or pattern to your baby’s sleep and may well have a very alert baby who is fighting sleep. During this stage day sleeps are regular and essential and you can start guiding your baby in a little routine. Put your baby back to sleep every 90-150 minutes and your baby will probably start developing a routine of two or three naps plus one longer day sleep. Your baby should be having about 14 – 15 hours sleep in a 24 hour period. 6 months to a year is the time when a proper day sleep routine emerges and your baby should start to link the sleep cycles during one day sleep, resulting in a longer midday sleep. Encourage this sleep and the one or two other naps, as your baby needs to sleep to help his brain process all the exciting information he processes during his waking hours. Your baby sleeps for 14 hours a day, usually 11 hours at night and three hours during the day broken into sleeps and short naps. Toddlers and preschoolers really resist day sleeps and it’s tempting to just ‘let it go’ and let your frazzled two year old collapse at night without a day sleep. The truth is these busy beings really need sleep. The common problems overtired toddlers have are fighting sleep at bedtime, frequent night wakings and night terrors. If you are facing this, you should really focus on having your toddler maintain the good habit of a midday sleep. If your preschooler won’t sleep, just a rest at midday will do. Toddlers sleep 13 hours a day and preschoolers need about 12 hours a day. In summary it is clear that babies and toddlers need a lot of sleep to process the stimulation of the world. The myth abounds that your baby or toddler will sleep as much as he or she needs – it is important to understand that this is not the truth and many babies need a bit of help to make sure they get enough sleep to develop well and be happily awake. By Meg Faure
My baby fusses and fights bedtime - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>3-6 Months

My baby fusses and fights bedtime

Why is early evening such a bad time of day? Why do babies fuss at this time more than at other times? And how can we make Horror Hour less horrific? At the end of the day our threshold for sensory input and interactions get lower, in other words we can tolerate less. So we respond to the world with a degree of irritability. As adults we are able to self regulate and adjust our world so that we don’t become over stimulated. We do this by having chilled sundowner or zoning out whilst watching soap operas. Of course when a demanding baby or toddler comes along out goes our de-stress ritual. So not only are we tired and over stimulated, but babies are that much more susceptible to overstimulation than adults. This combination results in suicide or horror hour! As your baby approaches the end of a busy day his threshold or tolerance for stimulation decreases. The smallest of interactions such as dad coming home or the stimulation of a windy tummy can be enough to trigger a colic attack in a little baby. In a busy toddler just limit setting after supper or even the sensory demands of dinner may bring on the horror hour that we all wish to escape. To help avert a frantic evening of fussing and fights: Keep your baby’s late afternoon calm, for instance take a walk in the pram or just reading quietly before supper and bed. Be sure to follow the appropriate ‘awake times’ for your child. (See Baby sense) Over tiredness exacerbates the problem. A young baby will require an afternoon nap, depending on his age as late as 4:30. In the baby over a year, the late afternoon nap will fall away but a good lunch time sleep is essential to see him through to bedtime without being over tired. After 5pm change the tempo of the household to a calmer and quieter environment. As hard as it is encourage Dad to treat homecoming as a happy but calm reunion and rather keep the excited play and roughhousing for the morning. Although kids are excitable in the bath, add some lavender oil to sooth them. A soothing massage and warm towel down also helps. Feed your kids earlier rather than later as a hungry tummy and low blood sugar level exacerbates the problem. Avoid socializing at this time of day, a trip to a busy family restaurant is not always the wisest move at 5pm – keep these outings for lunch time. By Meg Faure
Awake time influences sleep time - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Awake time influences sleep time

We all know that sleep is vital for our physical and emotional well-being. This is especially true for babies and young children, so it is a good idea to teach your baby healthy sleep habits from birth. This way he will learn the ability to self-soothe, to fall asleep without your presence, and to be able to put himself back to sleep when he wakes in the night. Awake time influences sleep time It is actually the time that your baby is awake that influences how much he sleeps. Knowing how long your child should stay awake before the next sleep is due will help prevent the ‘overtired’ scenario. If he is overtired, he will struggle to fall asleep unaided, and may even battle to stay asleep for any significant length of time. Understand your baby’s sleep cycles A sleep cycle is the process of moving from a drowsy state to light sleep, to deep sleep, and then back into light sleep. An adult’s sleep cycle is 90 minutes but it takes a while for a baby to develop such long sleep cycles. Babies’ sleep cycles vary depending on their age. The younger the baby, the shorter the sleep cycle. Most babies’ sleep cycles are no longer than an hour and may be as short as 30 minutes. A short day sleep may be only one sleep cycle long. At other times in the day (and hopefully at night) the baby ‘links’ sleep cycles to have long stretches of uninterrupted sleep. It is important to help our babies to link sleep cycles. If your baby is a cat-napper during the day, he will not be fully rested after his sleep and will have difficulty sustaining the normal period of awake time after that sleep and therefore need to sleep sooner. For example, if a baby of 6 months old has slept for only 20 minutes, then he will be tired sooner and need to be put down before his allocated 2-hour awake time expires – i.e. he should have another nap in about 1 – 1½ hours’ time. This is quite a novel approach to sleep, and takes some getting used to. However, once you apply the principles of watching the awake time, you will have unlocked the secret to good sleep habits. Plan your life around awake/asleep times Organize your schedule around the times when your baby is awake – and asleep. Unfortunately this is a fact of motherhood. You have to plan your life around your baby’s needs. Problems with routines and bad habits tend to creep in when you try to plan your baby’s routine around yours. Need assistance in implementing Age Appropriate Awake Times? Download The BABYSENSE APP or use our BABY TIME BRACELET! By Sr Ann Richardson

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