The struggle that new parents face with their newborn babies normally occurs at night. The wailing at sporadic timings are unpredictable and can be draining. It is no surprise that most parents go to work the next day like a zombie, unable to focus on the most mundane tasks.
First, let’s understand the baby’s sleep cycle. Contrary to popular beliefs, most babies do not sleep through the night especially when they are below 6 months old. Babies’ sleep cycles are around 50 to 60 minutes, with two sleeping stages – active and quiet sleep. Once your baby falls asleep, he will enter active sleep. At this stage, you might see your baby jerking, twitching and ‘sleep talking’. A newborn will spend roughly half of his sleep cycle in active sleep and this period is when most babies wake up. Midway through the sleep cycle, your baby will fall into quiet sleep. There will be lesser movement and his breathing will be rhythmic. Roughly half an hour later when his sleep cycle ends, he will either wake up or resettle himself and return to sleep. As babies are a much lighter sleeper than an adult, he will be more vulnerable when he sleeps. However, there are other factors affecting him to lose sleep or causing him to resist sleeping.
Tending to your baby too early
Do you rush into the nursery the moment you hear your baby crying? It might be easier this way, to soothe him back to sleep rather than waking the entire family up. But this is not a viable solution, as it may affect your child in the long-run. You can allow your child to settle for a few minutes before checking on him and you might find him resettling on his own. Sometimes, the sounds or cries might be his way of “sleep talking” so there is no need to startle yourself.
Confusion between Day and Night
Your baby might be confused as to when he should be sleeping. For babies, their internal rhythms will take up to eight weeks to develop. Internal rhythms act as an internal timing mechanism that allows your baby to feel more awake during the day and sleepier at night. In order to ease your baby into the mechanism, you can expose your baby to morning light during the day. If you have some time in the morning, take him for a walk to the nearby park. Otherwise, simply move his high chair to sunny spots to associate light with activity when he is having his meals. To associate inactivity and darkness in the night, try to dim the lights and provide him with as little stimulation as possible. Make sure the TV is off and the family is quiet. Even when your baby feeds in the middle of the night, limit your interaction and make an effort to not turn on bright lights.
Overtiring your baby
It is a misconception that if when babies are extremely tired, they will sleep better. Babies overtire really easily as they tend to overstimulate their minds during the day. For this reason, newborns require regular nap times. If your baby is kept awake past his appropriate ‘awake time’, he will be hyper-reactive when it is time to sleep at night. He will be easily awakened as his quality of sleep will decrease, resulting in more tossing and turning when he is in active sleep.
There are a few signs your baby may exhibit when he gets tired – cry, rub his eye, lack of focus, throw tantrums and yawn. Sometimes, signs may be too subtle and may be overlooked.
Solution: Regulate a sleep routine
One of the most effective way is to set a sleep routine for your baby. Be consistent and set the environment for your baby when he needs to sleep. Before he slumbers, turn off the television, dim the lights about one hour beforehand, and get him in the mood for sleep. Set up a routine by singing lullabies, or softly read stories. By doing so, your baby will learn what to expect before he sleeps. Apart from his sleep time at night, do monitor and schedule his nap time in the afternoon as well. Make sure that the naps he takes are of good quality, if possible, make it a point to let him nap on his own bed.
Good luck parents! If all else fails, you can always consult our principals and teachers here at Kiddiwinkie. Exclusive to our Orchard, Grandstand and Upper Bukit Timah centres, our infant care programme is built on the ethos of our C.A.R.E framework. We embrace the importance of being Communicative, Attentive, Responsive and Engaging in caring for infants. With a warm and safe environment, our infants can learn through exploratory and sensory play, coupled with a language-rich experience to meet their physical and developmental needs. Find out more at our centres and sign up for school tour today! http://bit.ly/2J748eh