By Dr Ashok M.V.
Understanding a baby’s sleep pattern is a difficult task. Babies cannot differentiate between day and night. As a parent, it can sometimes be frustrating to detect your baby’s sleeping pattern as they like to take naps for three to four hours. Babies sleep for more than 15 hours a day and they need to be fed constantly.
Here are certain tips that you can as a parent do to help your newborn baby get good sleep.
When having a baby, it’s difficult for you as a parent to get a good night’s sleep due to your baby’s sleeping pattern. Dreamfeed is feeding the baby right before you go to bed, while he or she is still asleep. This helps them sleep longer and there are high chances of you getting a whole night’s sleep as well.
Sleeping with your baby will help you in sharing your sleep cycle with him or her. Let your baby sleep along with you in your bed or use a cradle which can be placed beside your bed. Do not sleep with your baby if you are a smoker or under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Second-hand smoking can change your baby’s breathing pattern and alcohol or drugs can make you unaware of your baby. Avoid co-sleeping before 2 months of age.
Until the age of three months, a baby’s reflexes are undeterminable. It experiences a sensation of falling down and constant jerking. This results in your baby suddenly waking up from sleep. Swaddling helps your baby avoid this sensation. Remember not to tightly swaddle as this may cause overheating and to stop this method once your baby starts rolling over.
Using a soundtrack
When your baby is inside your womb, the baby could hear the sound of your heartbeat and other bodily sounds. But in the outside world, especially if you are living in fast-paced cities, sounds and noises abound. A soothing sound or white noise can help your baby to stay calm and thus get more sleep.
Changing your baby’s diaper strategically is important. Change the diaper before feeding your baby. After feeding, your baby may go to sleep immediately and waking him/her to change the diapers will make it difficult for them to fall asleep again and you will also need to re-swaddle your baby.
Keeping the room dark
During the day, when your baby is sleeping or taking a nap, make sure you keep the room dark. And when the baby wakes up or you want to wake them up, open the window screen to let them understand the difference between day and night.
Though your baby will not be able to talk, he or she is constantly trying to communicate with you. Crying, if the baby is hungry or losing interest in things around, implying your baby is tired and wants to sleep—are some of the signs of communication. Try not to rush in. At times, babies wake up and cry only to immediately go back to sleep or babble and still be asleep. Observe and help your newborn baby sleep better and be healthy.
(The writer is Consultant Neonatologist & Pediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore.)