Sleep Strategy – Win Sleep Roulette With Your Baby
Everything about baby sleep can seem frightening at 3 in the morning. Different advice from sleep experts confuse parents about what to believe. That’s where this article fits in – I’m going to help you separate sleep fact from sleep fiction. I will discuss 6 science-backed types of sleep strategy that have to promote healthy sleep habits.
Sleep Strategy #1 – Learn to Spot Your Child’s Sleep Cues
Your child has a sleep window of opportunity, a period of tiredness, but not overtired. If that window closes before they get to bed, their body will start fighting the fatigue. This will make it much more difficult for you to get them to go to sleep. So how can you tell if your baby is getting sleepy? It’s not as if your one-month-old can tell you what they need. Here are some sleep cues that your baby is ready to start winding down for sleep:
- Your baby is calmer and less active – this is the most obvious cue that your baby is.
- Your baby may be less tuned-in to his surroundings – his eyes may be less focused and his eyelids may be drooping.
- Your baby may be quieter –you may notice that the chatter dwindles off as your child starts to get sleepy.
- Your baby may nurse slower –your baby will tend to nurse slower as they get sleepy. In fact they may even fall asleep mid-meal.
- Your baby may start yawning – this is a not-so-subtle sign that you have a sleepy baby.
If you miss the sleep cues and notice signs of overtiredness you need to start the winding down earlier. Signs of overtiredness can include fussiness, irritability, and eye-rubbing. A benefit of parenting newborns is you get many chances to practice picking up on sleep cues. Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and more content baby.
6 Week Curve Ball
Something that can toss you a major curve ball if you’re caught off guard is babies when they reach 6 weeks of age. Babies tend to get extra-fussy when they reach the six-week mark. The amount of crying babies do in a day often increases when babies are this age. These findings do not mean you are doing anything wrong. Also, there isn’t anything wrong with your baby. It’s a temporary stage that babies go through.
If your child becomes overtired, your child is likely to behave in one or more of the following ways:
Signs of Overtiredness
- Your child will get a sudden burst of energy.
- You’ll start seeing “wired” and hyperactive behavior.
- Your toddler or preschooler will become uncooperative or argumentative.
- Your child will be whiny or clingy or they’ll generally fall apart
You will find that your child has his or her own unique response. Some children start to look pale. Some young babies start rooting around for anything to latch onto. Overtiredness is present if they are whining and wanting cuddles.
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and happier baby.
Sleep Strategy #2 – Teach Your Baby to Distinguish between Night and Day
Our internal time clock operates on a 24-hour and 10-minute to 24 hour and 20-minute cycle. All our rhythms are out of sync with the 24-hour clock. Thus we have to reset our internal clocks eachday. If we didn’t, we’d stay up later and sleep in later each day until our cycles were out of whack.
Daylight is one of the ways that we regulate our biological cycles. Exposure to alternating darkness and daylight regulates the body’s internal clock. This regulation is by Melatonin which is a hormone that keeps our internal clock in sync. Exposing your baby to daylight cue their circadian rhythm. Also, they’ll start to associate darkness with sleep time and light with awake time. It works best to take advantage of sunlight whenever possible.
Studies show daylight exposure between noon and 4:00 P.M. increases the odds of getting a good night sleep.
Sleep Strategy #3 – Let Your Baby Practise Falling Asleep on Their Own
Sleep experts recommend putting your baby to bed when they are sleepy but still awake. This allows practice of self-soothing behaviors. Others say you should give your baby at least one opportunity to try to fall asleep on their own each day. Still others say there’s no point bothering to work on these skills until your baby is three-to-four months. This is when your baby’s sleep-wake rhythm begins to mature and sleep learning can begin.
Sleep experts claim that sleep-association starts at around six weeks. At this point your baby begins to tune into their environment when falling asleep. If they always fall asleep rocking in your arms, they will want that when waking up in the middle of the night. This is the only way they know how to fall asleep due to association of sleep with you. Some parents decide to take a middle-of-the-road approach to sleep associations. They decide getting sleep the priority for themselves and their babies. They take of all opportunities to help their babies to develop healthy sleep habits.
The following habits need considering when paying attention to your babies sleep associations:
- Falling asleep during bottle-feeding
- Rocking to sleep
- Having you play an active role in helping your baby to fall asleep
- Having you in the room until your baby falls asleep
- Relying on a pacifier
You can reduce any particular sleep association by making it present some of the time. For example, if you alternate the habits your baby will have a hard relying on a single one. Sleep experts stress that the feeding-sleep association tends to be particularly powerful. Thus your baby will have an easier time self-soothing if you can reduce this association. Most babies are ready to start practicing these skills at three- to the four-months of age.
Sleep Strategy #4 – Make Daytime Sleep a Priority: Children Who Nap Sleep Better
Research has shown babies who nap during the day sleep better at nighttime. This is opposite of what you might think. Babies who do not nap end up being so overtired at bedtime. Thus they have a very difficult time settling and don’t sleep well at night. Also, rather than sleeping in, they start the next day too early and have a difficult time settling down for naps. As a result, daytime naps are as much a priority as ensuring adequate nutrition. Also, children who nap are generally in a better mood with improved attention spans.
Sleep Strategy #5 – Know When Your Baby No Longer Needs to Be Fed At Night
Your baby may continue to wake up in the night out of habit. This can continue even when they have outgrown the need for a middle-of-the-night feed. It might be time to cut the night feed if your baby is feeding less or does not seem interested in feeding at night. In these situations you need to focus your attention on non-food methods to get your baby back to sleep. Eventually you want to encourage them to take responsibility for self-soothing to sleep. But breaking that powerful food-sleep association must be completed first. With some children, it happens quicker. With other children, it’s a slower process. Once the association is breaks they may stop waking as often. They are then ready to start working on acquiring some self-soothing skills.
Sleep Strategy #6 – Remain as Calm and Relaxed as Possible about the Sleep Issue
Children are very aware of the moods of their parents. If you show frustration and anger when you attend to your baby at night they will pick on this. Some babies take longer to learn to sleep. Accepting this makes it easier to cope with the sleep interruptions. It also helps to feel confident that you can solve your child’s sleep problems. Parents with realistic expectations and confidence in their abilities handle sleep trouble easier.