Coping with a new baby 2 – sleep

How to get your baby to sleep through the night

How sweet does a sleeping baby look! But what if baby won’t sleep? How many hours have you been walking around with your baby in your arms, against your chest or leaning on your shoulder? You yourself are ready to go back to sleep, but clearly your little bub isn’t. I remember with our firstborn baby my husband and I would take turns walking around. The poor bub cried so much! I wish I had known about baby massage then!

Newborn babies need time to settle into their circadian rhythm, in other words, their body clock. This is one of the reasons why they sleep so much in those first few months. It is believed that you can’t “spoil” your bub by picking him or her up every time he or she cries in those first 3 or 4 months. On the contrary: there is evidence that it will make them settle easier and be less anxious later on in life.  And yes, in the process unfortunately the parents, in general mostly Mum, will get sleep deprived… Mind you, it does get better! The good news is that along the way you can help your baby into a good sleep rhythm.

First of all, look and learn what your baby’s cues are for getting tired, these could be: crying, whining, fretting, rubbing the eyes, yawning. It is recommended to put your baby to bed when he or she is signalling being tired. This will make it easier for them to fall asleep by themselves and helps them being used to sleep in their own bed/cot.

Have a routine for putting your baby to bed at night, so that they know it’s bedtime. This can be very helpful for the future and even possibly prevent tantrums, how good would that be! Examples are: bathe your baby, sing a song, read to him or her, turn on some soothing, soft music. One of those or a combination in a fixed order can make the “bed-time routine”. Make sure the bedroom is calming and dark enough. To help your growing bub transition from sleeping at daytime to sleeping more during the night, you could try to provide a bright and active environment during the day and a darker and quiet one at night. This doesn’t mean keeping baby up and going when they are really too tired though, beware of over-stimulation! I will dedicate another post to how important getting enough rest and sleep is, for your baby’s development as well as for you yourself!

Where does baby massage fit into all this? Any regular massage will influence the release of the sleep hormones (serotonin and melatonin). The massage doesn’t have to take place in the evening, any time will do, as long as it is regular. Preferably daily, but if you can’t manage that, don’t worry, a few times a week should already be enough. The massage will help the regulation of the mentioned hormones, which will improve your baby’s sleep. This doesn’t necessarily mean (s)he will sleep longer, but the sleep will be of a better quality, which will have a positive impact on their general mood and development.

 

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