Welcome to “The Sleepless Nights Club”
Always kiss your child/children goodnight – even if they’re already asleep. (H. Jackson Brown Jr.)
Sleep Cycles: Sleep is not a single state, but is at least two states. Rapid eye movement (REM) and non rapid eye movement sleep. During the light REM sleep, baby is dreaming and can twitch and breathe irregularly. Eye movements can be seen under the eyelids. Non REM sleep is deeper and baby will breath deeply but very still and may make sucking motions. These alternate in a cycle between 30-45 minutes long, but they can be shorter in babies under 6 months of age. Between the two cycles, babies can rouse briefly and can appear to be awake. Baby needs help to learn to sleep for at least two cycles during the day sleeps, to increase the length of night sleeps and to have adequate total sleep over a 24 hour period.
Items or routines that your baby associates with sleep. Such as a dummy (pacifier), a satin edged blanket, soft music playing, dimmed lighting, a bath.
Always remember that your baby is a unique individual. Babies are not all the same, so they all have different needs.
Here is a rough estimate of the amount of sleep each day that babies need at different ages:
0 – 8 weeks – 16 hours out of every day
8 – 12 weeks – 15.5 hours out of every day
12 – 16 weeks – 15 hours out of every day
16 – 24 weeks – 14.5 hours out of every day
1 – 3 years 13 hours out of every day
It’s really important to be able to recoginse baby’s tired cues early. An over tired baby will always be more difficult to settle. Newborn babis will probably get over tired if they have been awake for more than 1.5 hours. At 3 -6 months, your baby will be over tired after 1.5 – 2.5 hours of awake time.
If your newborn is tired, you may see some of the following tired signs:
- pulling at ears
- closing fists
- fluttering eyelids
- jerky arm and leg movements
- frowning or a worried look
- arching backwards
- difficulty focusing (may look cross eyed)
- finger sucking (this may be how your baby is trying to find a way to settle to sleep)
Hands on Settling:
As soon as you recognise that your baby is tired, prepare him/her for sleep.
- check your baby’s nappy
- wrap your baby in a light cotton sheet or muslin wrap, keeping the wrapping around the legs and feet loose so that baby is not constricted. A wrap can lessen baby’s involuntary movements giving a sense of security and promoting a state of calm. Arms should be above waist level, and hip movement should not be restriced.
- talk quietly and cuddle your baby to encourage a state of calm and relaxation
- position your baby on his/her back in their cot awake but calm/drowsy. Ensure the cot sides are up and secure whenever baby is left unattended in the cot.
- Comfort your baby by gentle ssshhh sounds, gentle rhythmic patting or rocking or stroking, staying until calm or asleep.
- If your baby is distressed you may need to pick your baby up for a cuddle until calm. Once calm, repeat steps 4 and 5
Remember to always separate feeding from playtime and sleep. Follow the feed, play, sleep routine. When baby wakes, feed him/her. Then give baby some play time, then off to sleep again.
- Always put baby to sleep on his/her back and have their feet at the end of the cot
- Ensure that baby’s head cannot get covered whilst sleeping
- No pillow
- No cot bumper
- No soft toys
- No doonas
- No soft mattress, ensure mattress is firm -always remove the plastic covering from a new mattress
- Avoid baby sleeping on couches/sofas
- Dress your baby in warm clothing, but don’t overheat them
- Sleep your baby in his/her own basinette or cot in parents bedroom for at least the first six months after birth
- Keep face uncovered
For further information: Sids And Kids Victoria – www.SidsAndKids.org