It’s true that a sleeping baby is indeed a beautiful sight, but for many parents how much and for how long their baby sleeps can become a significant issue in the first weeks, months and even years.
How well your baby is sleeping somehow can be conflated with how well you are parenting. Trying to ‘control’ how much and for how long your baby sleeps can become a distracting focus of your time as a new parent and even the source of much anxiety and distress. There is plenty of information available on baby sleep – in fact there is a whole industry based on it! So, how do you make sense of all the information and unsolicited advice?
Expect the unexpected
About the only thing you can rely on in terms of sleep is that some amount of sleep deprivation is to be expected. As your precious baby is growing and changing, so will your baby’s sleep patterns. When you are immersed in the lack-of-sleep baby stage it is hard to imagine, but there will come a time when it’s past midday and you are still waiting for your dishevelled teen to emerge from the depths of their bedroom. In the meantime, accepting that your baby is unlikely to sleep for extended periods consistently will make your parenting journey a little more enjoyable.
While you can’t make a baby sleep all night, there are ways you can create an environment that is not only conducive to sleep, but it also an enjoyable part of your day together. Over time a regular routine will help your baby understand that after a bath, massage, cuddle and feed, it’s time to sleep.
The bath time routine
A relaxing end to the day for your little one with a warm, soothing bath is a wonderful way to help set your baby up for sleep. Make sure the room is warm and quiet. A baby’s skin is more vulnerable to its environment than an adult’s because its protective barrier is not yet fully developed, so only use products that are specifically formulated with this in mind.
Relaxing nourishing massage
After a bath, if your baby is relaxed and calm, you could try a massage. Massaging your baby helps you and your baby forge emotional bonds and continues the bedtime wind-down period. Choose a baby oil or moisturiser that’s sensitive to your little one’s skin.
Before putting baby’s bedtime nappy on, soothe and protect from nappy rash with a nappy balm to protect and soothe skin.
The final countdown
Hopefully by now your baby is all relaxed and sleepy but not overtired! Now it’s time for a cuddle, a song or story, and a final feed and then off to sleep in a dark, warm room. That’s the goal but for many babies, it’s not as simple as that! Prepare to be flexible with the time you start your bedtime routine and also what time baby will actually go to sleep. Every baby is different so creating a routine will, over time, help establish strong sleep cues for your baby – each day is one day closer to a good night’s sleep for you both.
Written by Kidspot NZ.