Motherhood is the most precious period in a woman’s life. It is a time of excitement, mixed feelings, and a lot of transformations. This stage gives new lessons, perspectives, and different experiences. After the delivery, the child and the mom enter a new phase of their lives. It can be a testing period for every new mother. Many changes happen in a mother’s mind and body after she delivers a baby. Physical changes, including tiredness, body aches, and a sudden drop in female sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, cause anxiety, depression, and mood swings ( baby blues) in many new mothers.
In addition to all these conditions, it is a period of sleepless nights with several new responsibilities to fulfill. Taking care of the baby, breastfeeding him, putting the baby to sleep, changing the dress and napkins, bathing the baby, and several other tasks together can overwhelm a new mother and leave her with a lot of confusion and worries.
Putting a newborn to sleep is a mother’s most challenging task during the first few months. As infants have to adapt to the new environment, they need time to develop an appropriate sleeping schedule.
Developing a healthy sleeping schedule requires proper planning. Usually, newborn babies sleep for long hours. That is the best time for mothers to get some rest. Some babies sleep fast, but all days will not be the same. As per the studies on sleep physiology in children, several developmental changes are happening in their sleeping patterns as they grow. These changes gradually lead to the adult sleeping pattern.
Let us check the common sleeping patterns of infants.
Sleep Patterns In Infancy
Before discussing the tips to put your baby to sleep, it will be helpful to understand the standard sleeping patterns of an infant. Like adults, a baby also has different depths or stages of sleep. Two major sleep stages are observed in infants. They are.
- REM (Rapid Eye Movement). This is the light sleep stage, and the eyeballs’ movements occur rapidly at this stage.
- NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). This stage is again divided into four other stages, where the sleep pattern begins with drowsiness and gradually falls into a deep sleep.
Usually, healthy infants sleep continuously for a long duration, that is, 16 to 18 hours per 24 hours. This duration decreases gradually as they grow as an adult.
Separation Anxiety And Infant Sleep Issues
After the first three or four months, infants may show restlessness and sleep-related issues during the night, which can affect their sleeping patterns. Signs of separation anxiety are common during this period. Separation anxiety, tiredness, or stimulation are a few reasons that cause a disturbing night sleep routine in babies.
Few symptoms of separation anxiety are,
- They start waking up in between their sleep and crying.
- When the parent tries to put the baby on the bed, the baby refuses to sleep or clings to the caregiver.
- Some infants will not sleep without a parent nearby.
- Some babies need their parent’s touch to sleep. They will cry when the parents leave the room.
- Illness or health problems also cause sleep disturbances in babies. In such a case, parents can opt for help from healthcare providers.
Putting The Baby To Sleep – Signs Of Sleep Readiness
Identifying the signs of sleep readiness in babies is the first step of putting them to sleep. They show some cues as they feel sleepy. Commonly we can observe a pattern such as rubbing their eyes or yawning, crying unnecessarily and fussing over something. If such symptoms are observed, you can help the baby to fall asleep using some tips . As we know, babies can’t go to sleep on their own. Creating a routine for sleep is a good idea because it will automatically help the baby to develop a sleeping pattern. On the other hand, it is helpful for the adult to get some rest as the baby is not active and doesn’t need much attention at that time.
Here are a few tips for putting your baby to sleep easily.
- Creating A Sleeping Pattern
Creating a sleeping pattern is a gradual process. Some parents breastfeed or rock the baby to make him feel comfortable before putting him to sleep. Few parents prefer to hold the baby in their arms and put him to sleep. Creating such habits may help babies to fall asleep fast, but the problem is, they will get used to such patterns and expect the same every time they want to fall asleep. If they wake up during the sleep cycle, it will be difficult for them to fall asleep independently.
Babies should get enough sleep during the day and night. Moms can adapt cuddling techniques to make the baby feel more secure and comfortable. Once you create a bedtime routine, it is crucial to stick to it to develop it as a pattern.
- Maintaining A Suitable Environment For The Baby’s Sleep
As the sleeping routine is essential for the development of a baby, setting a suitable environment for the baby is equally important. According to sleep expert Conner Herman, the place and surroundings where the baby sleeps should be clean and clutter-free. Distractions and simulations should be avoided to assure a good sleep. Arranging a dim light and soothing music will be a good idea to keep a comfortable atmosphere in the sleeping room.
Swaddling is the practice of covering the infant using a clean and thick cloth in a specific style. Swaddling helps create a ‘womb-like’ atmosphere. Sometimes, if you wrap them , they may show irritations while sleeping in the initial months, but they will adopt it through training. Swaddle the baby in a proper way to make him feel more cozy and get him sound sleep.When choosing the swaddling fabrics, give importance to soft and stretchy natural fabrics like cotton or muslin.
Researchers find that the swaddling technique is helpful to calm the baby. Swaddling helps to stimulate the baby’s innate calming reflex.
Infants will have limited control over their arms and legs. During sleep, they may startle themselves by moving their hands and legs. This causes sleep disturbance. If the baby is wrapped tightly, it creates womb-like comforts and helps the baby sleep continuously. For this reason, it is safe to use proper swaddlers, which are available to purchase.
- Keep The Optimum Temperature
As adults, infants also feel comfortable sleeping at an optimum temperature. The room should be arranged in such a way that the temperature is not very high or low.Baby should wear smooth, thick dresses and his body should not be overheated. If the temperature is low, use additional clothes to cover the baby.
Newborns wet the bed frequently. So it is advisable to keep enough sheets or napkins nearby. This will help to change the sheets without disturbing the baby soon after he wets the sheet.
Random Tips That Help Put The Infant Back To Sleep Safely
The infant is expected to wake up frequently due to wetting or hunger. After changing the sheet and feeding the infant, try patting and soothing techniques to make him go back to sleep.
As per the study reports, there are sleep-related deaths among infants. The American Academy Of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests some techniques to ensure safe sleep for infants.
- Immunization is the prime thing that helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in babies.
- The ideal sleeping position for babies is placing them on their backs during day naps and night sleeps. This positioning will reduce the risk of breathing in foreign objects, which leads to SIDS.
- Use the pacifier occasionally once the breastfeeding pattern is wholly established.
- The crib and mattress should be firm without gaps to avoid the baby getting trapped in between the gaps and suffocating.
- There are several sleeping aids available in the market. Using infant seats, strollers, chairs, or carriers is not a good idea as they can cause the blockage of air inside an infant’s airway and lead to suffocation. Likewise, avoid using an armchair or couch for baby’s sleep.
- Say big ‘no’ to smoking, usage of alcohol, or illegal drugs. All these are harmful to the baby’s health.
- When using swaddlers, choose the right one that should not over-bundle or cover the baby’s face. Getting overheated will lead to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- It is an ideal practice to share the room instead of sharing the bed with your baby, because sharing the bed with the baby may cause suffocation, entrapment, or SIDS. AAP suggests arranging a separate bed close to the parents and putting infants on that to sleep.
There are a few things to be avoided around the baby’s bed. They are,
- Hanging Cords and wires
- Window curtains and covers
- Cardiorespiratory monitors
- Wedges and positioners
- Pillows and blankets etc.
All the details discussed above are significant and should be noted. The prime motive is the safety and comfort of the baby. Though parenthood is a bliss, there will be tough challenges and discomforts the parents have to face. Try accepting everything with a calm mindset. Planning a suitable routine and sticking to it continuously is the key. Gradually everything will fall into place.