“Is she sleeping through the night?”
Once you have your baby, you’ll be surprised at how many people will ask you this question. It’s a pretty ridiculous question, as newborns rarely “sleep through the night.”
If your pediatrician is asking you this, she likely means about five hours of uninterrupted sleep, between midnight and five a.m.
It’s unlikely that you will experience five hours of uninterrupted sleep before your baby is three to six months old, but what you need to remember is that every baby is different and that to some parents, “sleeping through the night” actually means eight to 12 hours of peaceful slumber.
That’s not likely to happen until well after six months, so don’t feel down if your answer is “no.”
Newborns, on average, sleep about 14 hours per day and anywhere from one to three hours at a time. It is very common for your newborn to sleep more in the daytime than she does at night.
To help your baby set his inner clock, or circadian rhythm, expose your baby to sunlight in the day and darkness at night.
Leave a light on at naptime and let them sleep in complete darkness at night. This will help them to organize their sleep and realize that longer sleep should happen at night.
Building great sleep habits from the start is a good idea. Start as you mean to go on.
If you enjoy rocking your baby to sleep or holding her and dancing around the room while you hum a lovely lullaby, that is more than OK. What you need to ask yourself is if you’re prepared to do that for the next four years or so.
Comfort your baby when he needs comforting, but after about the fourth month you probably don’t want to make that part of your bedtime routine.
Chances are, you now realize that you may never sleep the same way again.
What you can do is arm yourself with the knowledge and the skills to get your little one comfortable enough to soothe herself to sleep in a safe and loving environment.
It’s important to remember that not all babies have the same sleep patterns. Some are natural born sleepers, some will fight it every step of the way. What you can do as a parent is be there for them and do your best to teach them to get quality sleep from the start.
Healthy sleep habits are important for baby and for parents. In the first six months (or however long you’d like), try to sleep when they sleep. You may not think that you need to nap, but you’ll be better for it.
Tips for sweet slumber
•Crib safety – bumper pads and loose blankets are never recommended.
•Swaddle your baby; this may help them to feel comfortable and safe.
•A baby monitor will help you know when they need you.
•You may introduce a baby safe sleep toy.
After four to six months:
•Establish a routine that is realistic for your family. For example, the last feed of the night happens in a dark and quiet room, followed by a diaper change and quiet bedtime story.
•Comfort your baby the same way every night when she wakes, whether it’s picking her up, singing to her, patting her back, or simply shushing her.
•Put your baby to bed drowsy but not sleeping. This will help him to learn to fall asleep on his own and will give him the skills to self-soothe when he naturally wakes in the middle of the night
•It is normal for your baby to wake up in the night; it’s important to give her some time to try to self-soothe and get back to sleep on her own, so try not to rush to her side when she wakes.
Sandy Pedrogao is the editor and co-founder of Oh Baby! Magazine and www.ohbabymagazine.com. She is also the co-producer of The Baby Show, Ottawa’s largest early parenting show. When she’s not running her business and parenting her two children as best she can, she can usually be found enjoying real life or online conversation.