Sleep needs differ from one child to another and from one age group to another. For newborn babies, this need may range between 10 and 18 hours per day. For babies between 4 months and one year of age, the need for sleep goes down to 9 to 12 hours at night, along with few intermittent naps during the day.
It’s true that the napping pattern of your newborn distributes his sleep throughout the day and night as per his need for frequent nursing, but you can still teach your bundle of joy the difference between day and night, and set his bedtime routine according to your own needs for comfort, sleep and relaxation. If you want, you can wake your baby up to nurse before you go to bed, so you can manage to get some sleep before it’s time to get up again.
As your child grows and gets older, he will need less breastfeeding sessions, and thus he will be able to sleep for a longer period at night. Once he reaches 4 months, a great part of his daily napping will reduce so he can have more sleep at night. At this time, you feel you’re ready to train him on a particular bed routine that can help him get enough sleep and stay away from sleep disorders and perturbations.
In order for this to work, we advise you to co-sleep with your baby until he reaches 6 months of age, and we mean by co-sleeping, sharing the same room but not the same bed, as sharing the bed might be harmful for the baby. We recommend you as well to follow these simple but effective instructions:
- Before you put your baby to sleep, familiarize him with light activities that may soothe him and get him ready for bed, such as songs, bathes, reading books, etc.
- Before you put your baby in the bed, swaddle him with a light blanket that can keep him warm and give him the feeling of security.
- After you remove all toys and extra blankets from the bed or the crib, put your baby to sleep on his back.
- Dim the bedroom lights just to create relaxing and comforting atmosphere for your baby to sleep.
- Don’t overheat your baby’s room, for babies in general need moderate temperatures to be able to sleep. That said, we recommend you to set the temperature below 20 degrees in winter, and keep an eye on the humidity levels in summer.
- During the day, let the sunshine enter your baby’s room: open the curtains, turn off the lights and don’t turn them one before it gets dark. That way, your baby will learn the difference between day and night.
While your baby is still under 6 months of age, don’t hesitate to run and check on him once he cries. Perhaps he’s hungry or wet or in pain. Try your best to meet his needs calmly, without attempting to turn on the lights or play with him. By behaving as such, you teach your child that the night is the right time for sleeping and it must be respected.
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