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Infant sleep is vastly different to adult sleep. Most newborn babies sleep a lot and some newborns sleep all the time. And yet newborn sleep is one of the greatest challenges facing early parenthood. This is the case because babies’ circadian rhythms aren’t quite like their parents’. They don’t know night from day. The newborn does not recognise that after birth, one should be sleeping throughout the night and then play in the morning. To them, they’re still kicking about living their best lives in the womb.
Most babies eat at night
In the first few months, most healthy babies eat at night. They have to! Some babies wake up and become alert and playful several times each night, often in connection with their need to eat. Others wake up and scream instead. Some are able to eat half asleep and seem to find a circadian rhythm that fits with their parents’ early on.
If you have had a baby that sleeps all night from birth or a few weeks of age, and drinks milk half asleep, congratulations! You’re one of the lucky ones! Feel free to read this post to understand other parents’ experiences. But, there’s not need to apply it to yourselves.
My baby wakes up every 3 hours, 24 hours a day – what should I do?
For a baby who doesn’t seem to have understood that there is a difference between night and day, it may be a good, long-term strategy to be very clear about showing the baby that there is a difference. During the day, mom and dad are awake, funny, playful and happy. It’s lit in the house and you’re welcome to go out. At night, lights are off. The room is dark and mom and dad are quiet, boring, singing lullabys and lying in bed and trying to put me to sleep time and time again.
In the short term, you need to make sure you get the sleep you need, to act as a happy and loving parent in the daytime. Talk to your partner and make a sleep plan. Are you going to take the baby every other night? Should one take the time between 22:00 and 03:00 and the other between 03:00 and 08:00? Can the baby lie between you in bed during the night, even if their awake? If so, let the baby do it, provided you can sleep. If the person who isn’t on baby call needs to sleep, they should go to the guest room.
My baby doesn’t want to sleep in their own bed
You’re not alone. It’s understandable that a baby feels safer from the dangerous outside world when they are closer to their parent. And we all need to feel safe in order to sleep. Other children sleep better in their own bed. Some parents don’t get any sleep if they share a bed with their baby. Unfortunately, there is a small increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome if children under three months of age share a bed with an adult. But if you sleep in a spacious bed, the child sleeps on his back and the parents are sober, the increase in risk is small.
My baby sleeps so terribly on their back. Can’t I put them on their stomach?
It is well known that babies sleep better on their stomachs than on their backs. Unfortunately, it is certainly not recommended. It greatly increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that respiratory alarms protect stomach-sleeping babies from sudden infant death syndrome. When the baby is strong enough to turn from their back to their stomach, we usually say that it is safe to sleep on the stomach.
No fluffy bedding or stuffed animals near the baby
Some of the babies who died of sudden infant death syndrome, have been found under warm blankets or with their faces in a fluffy stuffed animal. Therefore, you should avoid having these close to the baby when they’re sleeping. Use a thin blanket and thin little baby pillow instead. The stuffed animals can wait a few months.
Sleeping bag for newborn, is that good?
A sleeping bag is used in many countries for newborn babies. It has been debated whether of not it is difficult for a baby to turn around in the sleeping bag and therefore be good at protecting against sudden infant death syndrome.
Should the baby use a pacifier?
In the first week of life, a baby’s sucking is all that is needed to start milk production. There can sometimes be non-stop sucking, around the clock. In that case, a pacifier can be an obstacle to the baby’s food intake.
As soon as mother and baby establishes a breastfeeding or bottle feeding relationship, you can, if you want, try giving the baby a pacifier when they want to suck but not eat. Some babies sleep better with pacifiers. Pacifier also seems to protect against sudden infant death syndrome.