Good sleeping habits are crucial for the baby’s emotional and physical well-being. Some of the most crucial habits are embedded at the earliest childhood, including good sleeping habits. Therefore, a good sleep environment is crucial from the day one.
Healthy sleeping habits start with a good sleep environment, so everything matters, from where your child sleeps, what kind of bed or crib you have, what type of mattress you bought, how strong the light is in the room, and so on.
But, probably the most important thing about good sleeping habits is actually the physical position of your newborn, which changes as the baby grows older.
Yes, a newborn has sleeping patterns and they tend to sleep a lot. The average newborn sleeps much of the day and night, waking only when he is hungry, which happens a few times per day. Therefore, it’s important for new parents to know how long and how often a newborn should sleep.
However, there is no strict schedule at first and many newborns mix up their days and nights. They even sleep during the day and wake up during the night many times. In general, newborns sleep between 8 to 9 hours in the daytime and about 8 hours at night.
Most babies sleep without waking up until they are 3 months old, or until they weight 12 or 13 pounds. This is not a strict rule, as some babies tend to sleep without interruptions until they are 1 year old.
So, Why Do Babies Wake Up So Often?
It’s rather simple actually – they are hungry. Young infants and newborns have a small stomach and they must eat every few hours, usually in about every three hours. But, how often your baby will eat depends entirely on what he is being fed, and also on his or her age.
The best way to predict your baby’s sleeping/eating habits is to talk with your doctor to determine if it’s necessary to wake a baby for feedings.
Make sure that you are following on your baby’s sleeping habits and patterns, and also any change around it. If your baby is sleeping routinely, and suddenly is waking, there may be a problem such as an ear infection.
Also, some sleep disturbances are simply due to numerous changes in the baby’s development or because of overstimulation.
Good to know: Never put a baby to bed with a bottle propped for feeding. This practice is considered to be dangerous and can lead to choking and ear infections.
Newborns Sleep Stages
Just like adults, newborns have their own sleep stages, and they will act accordingly depending on the stage itself. Therefore, a baby may move a little, can be very active or completely still. Infant sleep patterns are forming during the last months of pregnancy.
There are two types of sleep:
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is a light sleep when dreams occur and eyes move fast back and forth. Babies usually spend around 16 hours each day sleeping. Half of it is in REM sleep. Older children and adults spend less time in REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep comes with four different stages:
- Stage 1: eyes droop, opening and closing eyes, dozing, drowsiness
- Stage 2: baby may startle or jump with sounds, light sleep
- Stage 3: this is the stage of deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
- Stage 4: this is the stage of very deep sleep, the baby is quiet and does not move
A baby enters stage 1 at the beginning of the sleep cycle and after it moves to the stage 2, then 3, and then 4, then back to 3, then 2, then to REM. These cycles may occur randomly and several times during sleep.
Babies can even awaken as they pass from one stage to another one, or go from deep sleep to light sleep. Also, babies can have difficulties going back to sleep in the first few months.
How Can You Help Your Baby Fall Asleep?
If your baby looks away, yawns, and rubs its eyes it’s a clear sign that he or she is ready to sleep and you should undertake proper steps to help your baby fall asleep as soon as possible. So, how can you help your baby fall asleep? The best thing that you can do with this one is to have a steady and comprehensive routine.
Not all babies know how to put themselves to sleep, yet they could learn with proper guidance. Many parents want to rock or even breastfeed a baby to sleep. But, bear in mind that no baby falls to sleep because of your feeding or your arms, although it can become a pattern and baby may begin to expect to be in your arms in order to fall asleep.
Experts suggest that you can allow your baby to become sleepy in your arms, but not to fall asleep. This way baby will learn how to go to sleep on his own. A good way to help establish a bedtime routine is to play soft music, for example.
There are certain rules that you must follow to rest assured that your baby will be safe during sleeping hours within the crib. Some of them are:
- the safest place for the baby to sleep in his first year of life is on his back, inside the crib
- when your baby starts turning you can cut the sleeping on the back and you should keep the baby in the crib, with towel rolls or foam wedges around the baby
- infants should never sleep on pillows or similar pads
- baby should always sleep in a room that’s quiet, dark and at a slightly cooler temperature
- think about sleepers, so you can avoid covering your baby with blankets
- keep your baby away from harmful factors, such as cigarette smoke
- never leave your baby alone on a couch, armchair or sofa
- never sleep or nap with your baby on a couch, armchair or a sofa. Each option can lead to suffocation
The Perfect Baby Sleep Environment
Creating the perfect sleep environment is not mission impossible, it just requires some guidelines, time and more time. Creating this environment is good for parents as well, as you will have much more time for yourself and for rest while the baby sleeps for hours. There are few things that you should take into consideration when it comes to creating the perfect baby environment.
Don’t be surprised by this one but babies love routine. They actually can find certain predictability and comfort in them. So, make sure that you find a bed routine and stick to it. For some, it may be reading, drinking milk and then sleep. On the other hand, for others, it can be drinking milk in arms for one hour until the baby falls asleep.
Regardless of what your routine includes exactly, you should stick with some general rules, like shutting down the tv and all electronic devices at least 2 hours before bed. Also, avoid bright light for an hour before bed so that the body starts to wind down and prepares slowly for sleep.
Also, if you feed the baby just before the sleep you can include food rich in magnesium and potassium. This food is known for being able to relax muscles while tryptophan converts to melatonin to create a calming hormone for the brain.
2. White Noise
White noise can help you create a familiar environment. Thanks to this you can easily isolate any unpleasant sound and create an enjoyable surrounding. In addition, you can use a specially designed app for this purpose, or even have a white noise machine.
But, the great thing about app’s is that they are mostly free and you choose among numerous different sounds. Bear in mind that infants like routine, therefore they will love identical sound each time.
Parents usually go for bright walls, colorful accessories, and vivid curtains, forgetting in their moments of joy that babies love to sleep and that they will sleep a lot. However, you should bear in mind that too much light can be harmful to your baby sleep.
Therefore, make sure that you have set and ready something to help you black the room. Use blackout curtains, put cardboard on the windows, or anything that may work for you. However, if nothing works maybe your baby is a fan of more vivid colors within the dark room.
In that case, you can try to use any app that shines vivid colors and light. This just might do the trick.
Setting the perfect temperature is one of the biggest challenges that young parents have to deal with. First thing first, the ideal room temperature is between 21-23C.
Secondly, experts claim that anything below or above is not optimal for sleeping. Also, sleeping in cooler environments is much more satisfying.
Thirdly, always keep the room thermometer so you don’t think twice if your baby is cold or hot. Make sure that you don’t overdress the baby or underdress him.
The best way is to go for natural and breathable fabrics that allow the body to regulate its own temperature. In addition, you can keep a blanket next to the crip, just in case.
This should be a no-brainer why we mention it here. It is easy to lose your focus when you have to deal with this small creature that requires your full-time attention and love. Especially, if it’s your first child.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to think about safety and what it means. Always focus on safety first. Always. How to keep your baby safe in a nutshell?
- keep soft objects away from the baby’s sleep area
- keep any object that can lead to suffocation, or strangulation out of the baby’s sleep area
- use a stable sleeping surface
- crib is a place just for the baby, nothing else should be inside the crib
- for detailed safety you can check this Ultimate Guide to Baby Sleep Safety and SIDS Awareness
Creating a perfect baby environment will be beneficial for both you and your baby. You can make the baby’s room to look great and also to help your baby sleep better.
So, make sure that you follow basic baby room guidelines, and focus on keeping your baby’s room as it should be – dark, cool and quiet.
Remember, sleeping babies are happy babies. And sleeping babies means happy parents.