Not getting enough rest can affect the digestive system and metabolism, blood pressure, hormonal system of the body, eyesight, etc; the list can be endless. In the first month of child birth the mother needs a lot of rest to recuperate from the ill effects of pregnancy.
A research shows that on average new parents lose about 2.9 hours of sleep every night. This is caused by the disruptive sleep cycle of the infant, need to feed the baby in the middle of the night and piling up house work.
Many parents also lose sleep when they are too worried about the child’s safety and wake several times through the night to check on the baby. All this suggests that you need to learn strategies to put your baby to sound sleep and help him sleep through the night.
Understand that the first two weeks are going to be difficult when the baby is still adjusting to the outside world. After that, you can start giving them a feel of day and night so that sleep is no more a problem. After 6 – 8 weeks you can start sleep training too. But be advised not to start too early, otherwise it would end up in frustration and you may want to give up in the end.
Here are a few suggestions that work with most children, but remember that every child is unique and it may not be necessarily apply to yours. Do not be disheartened; just try to design your own strategies based on these suggestions that you feel suit your child.
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1. Decide Where the Baby Should Sleep
The first decision that you ought to take about your baby is the place where you want them to sleep. You may want them to sleep with you on your bed, or in a crib in your room or in a separate room. Before you finalise do a little study and understand how each place would affect you and your baby.
When the infant sleeps with the adults on the same bed there is a fear of them getting trapped under the elders. So it is advisable to have a separate crib for the baby in your own room near your bed.
If the crib is in another room it will be quite a task to reach the baby at night. But in case you cannot adjust the crib in the same room as your bed, ensure that you have baby monitors installed so that you have to get up only when necessary and the baby’s safety is not an issue.
Let the baby sleep on the bed during the day and put them in the crib at night. This will help them differentiate between the amounts of sleep they are going to get. Don’t make the bed too soft otherwise it may stifle the baby. Keep the quits soothing in colour, soft and clean.
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2. Design Your Own Sleep Routine
A sleep routine is the best way to make the infant understand that it is time to sleep long hours. You may have your own routine but here are a few suggestions. Start with a good massage after the baby has had some play time. Massage helps the child’s bones and helps muscles get stronger and allows proper blood flow. It also relaxes any aches in the body.
About half an after the massage bathe the baby and change them into night clothes. You may consider night time diapers that allow more number of wettings. Feed them well after this and start cajoling them to go to sleep now.
Some children may want to start playing after this and may seem wide awake. But this routine should end in the baby sleeping so that eventually they get used to this sleep routine. If you are finding it difficult to put the child to sleep, you may also feed the baby once or twice while they are asleep before they get hungry and wake up on their own.
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3. Putting the Baby to Sleep
When you are trying to put the baby to sleep play or sing a lullaby and let it be the same very night. This acts like a switch off button and the child knows it’s time to sleep. Some touch techniques like tapping lightly on the elbow or knees; simple swirling motion on the arms or forehead, rubbing lightly on the head repeatedly, etc. also work well.
You may want to cuddle your little one during this time but do not wait for them to fall asleep before putting them in the crib. Do this when the baby is drowsy but not asleep. Let the child sleep on their stomach. This helps the baby breathe better and avoids any choke up due to spit outs. If the baby wakes up during the night keep the tones low, do get too playful and avoid eye contact completely.
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4. Let the Lighting do the Job
It can be tough task to teach an infant the difference between day and night. You can use light strategically to give them an idea. Dim light is night time and bright light is day time. Keep your room well lit during the day, let the sunlight flood the house or take the baby out.
During the night, especially at sleep time, dim the light or use night lamps in the room. If the baby wakes up during the night do not switch on all the lights.
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5. Some Don’ts that You Must Avoid
Do not reach the child immediately after you hear any motion. Allow the baby to settle down and if they don’t, get there before the wail is in full rage.
Do not get too irritated if your little one is too playful. They will eventually tire out.
Do not keep an infant awake for long hours. They may get too tired making it difficult for them to get sound sleep. Instead, put them to sleep every two hours so that the play and rest is balanced out well.
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All these experiences are new for you and do not hesitate to learn from your child themselves. But how so ever aware and observant you are, there are possibilities of difficulties at different stages of the baby’s life. Consult your doctor because there could be no better advice than the one which comes from the doctor himself.