Sleep is very important to your baby and is indeed necessary for a baby’s proper growth and brain development. If we go in detail to your baby’s sleep, this is the most important period of an infant. A baby who has a sufficient sleep may not just remain happy and cheerful but will also grow healthy.
It is not always easy in the first few months to put your baby to sleep, and often your baby will find it difficult to fall asleep on his/her own. In Sri Lanka it is common to co-sleep with the baby though there are more and more parents using cots now, though in our culture this is seen to be something harmful to the baby’s development. There is however no proven truth in this, and parents should do what ideally fits with their lifestyles and needs.
Remember not to give up, and to learn what soothes your baby as all babies are different.
For how long will my new born sleep?
Your new born will sleep 16 hours a day in average. This might be at two to three hours at a stretch or sometimes could be just 30 minutes or even less. Your new born will mostly sleep during the daytime and will find it difficult to sleep during the night. In fact, most parents will find that they are up more often than they are sleeping in the night.
Your baby’s need for sleep could be triggered due to different reasons. It could be that baby is full after a feed or simply tired. This could also depend on your baby’s weight. If your baby weighs less he or she will need feeding more often which will cause the baby to spend more time feeding and less sleeping. Experts say that normally a baby will sleep 30 minutes to four hours at a stretch in the first few months on being born.
However, this may change from baby to baby. This is normal since all babies are unique. In some cases babies will find it hard to snooze quite easily. These babies need more help from the parents to settle themselves to sleep.
What could I do when my baby finds it hard to settle down?
There are several techniques you can follow to help your baby settle down and fall asleep. Swaddling or wrapping your baby in a soft, slightly starchy and light sheet or blanket will keep him/her warm and comfortable which will gradually. You might find this helps during the first few months. However as the baby gets older this might actually make the baby feel uncomfortable, especially in a warm climate like in Sri Lanka.
Swaddling in the first few months however will also help your baby to stay put and not wake up whenever his/her arms and legs move, which is an involuntary action babies are used to.
Another way is by giving the baby an object to suckle. This is commonly known as the sucking comfort which will help your baby to sooth him or herself with the gentle rhythm of suckling when the baby is fretful. For this most babies naturally use their thumbs, you might want to give them your small finger too at most extreme cases that you find your baby is not settling.
Most parents sing a lullaby to the baby to comfort and make him/her fall asleep. Gas is also a trigger for restlessness, and therefore its best to make sure you burp your baby after a feed before putting him/her to sleep.
It will always come in handy if you give your baby a good warm bath in a fixed schedule and also feed the baby well as they will not sleep if they are hungry. As much as the mother enjoys, the baby will find comfort in an affectionate cuddle, a delicate kiss and a soft song or music which will make all sleep times a joyful and healthy one.
Remember not to give up, and to learn what soothes your baby as all babies are different. Rocking your baby will work in the beginning but will make your baby dependent on that in the long run.