babyMaternity Magazine
Creative Child

Gentle Sleep Tips

Baby Sleep Patterns
by Rebecca Eanes

Exhausted parents around the globe are looking for ways to help their babies sleep better and longer, but many don’t want to resort to sleep training, which is often associated with allowing babies to cry-it-out alone in their cribs. Fortunately, there are other, gentler, options that can help babies and parents get the sleep they need.

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Guard Against Unrealistic Expectations

Having a baby who “sleeps through the night” is viewed as a badge of honor in parenthood and it causes unrealistic expectations that our babies should sleep much longer than they are actually capable of. Humans rarely sleep without waking through the night, and for human babies, it’s even more of a rarity.

Any method that alludes to the idea that you’ll all be sleeping blissfully through the night is giving you false hope. Accept that your sleep will not be as perfect and easy as it was before your little one arrived, and adjust to expectations to getting “good enough” sleep for a while.

Don’t Disturb a Stirring Baby

Responsive, loving parents often rush to pick up baby as soon as she starts to stir or make noise, but wait. There are natural rises and falls in the sleep cycle, and if let be, she may settle right back into sleep. Only pick her up if it is clear that she is awake and needs you. However, if she starts to fuss and show signs of hunger, the more quickly you respond and feed her, the more likely she is to fall back to sleep easier when she’s full.

Let Tired Babies Sleep – For a While

In our efforts to develop good baby sleep patterns, we may sometimes try to stick to a nap/sleep schedule that is more harmful than helpful. By trying to keep a tired baby awake until the scheduled nap time, you may inadvertently cause him to have sleep deprivation which leads to more problems in getting good sleep. If your baby is clearly tired – fussy, yawning, sleepy eyes – put him down for a nap then. Trying to keep him awake may actually disrupt his sleep cycle, not help it.

In an ironic twist, letting baby nap for too long may also disrupt nighttime sleep. After 2-3 hours, wake baby gently, especially if it’s later in the day, to ensure their sleep schedule at night isn’t disrupted.

 Check out more baby sleep patterns on the next page.

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