Encourage Your Little One To Sleep By Kathy of Dreamy Babies

Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome!  Get a cup of coffee/ tea, have a seat and stay for a while before baby stirs and/or gets your attention, LOL
I'd like to share with you Kathy from Dreamy Babies, she'll be contributing a series of articles on the sleeping issues that many parents face.
I asked on our Facebook page what you'd like to see on Everything Mom and Baby and someone wrote sleeping habits/issues.  
So Mama Ash listened and found Dreamy Babies.  I encourage you to visit her website and contact her for more info or any questions you have with her first article on Everything Mom and Baby.
Thank you Kathy for being on Everything Mom and Baby and taking the time to write this and to my followers, I hope you enjoy this article and may it help you.  Please feel free to leave a comment on here too!  I love hearing from you.
Encouraging Your Little One to Sleep
by Kathy C.

Sleepless nights, crying baby, walking around like a zombie.  Forgetting to shower or brush your teeth. 
Begging and pleading with your baby to please.go.to.sleep.  Ahhh... the wonderful trial and tribulations of motherhood.  Weʼve all been there at one point or another and almost every parent I know goes through this during the first three months of their babies life.  Millions of parents around the world search for The Answer on how to get their precious bundle of joy to sleep and after 23 months of unpredictable sleep, researching sleep journals, talking to doctors and nurses, interviewing seasoned mothers and pediatricians, analyzing my daughterʼs sleep patterns, reading every book that is out there and through  my own trial and error, I have amassed a wealth of information about baby sleep and how to get your child to sleep better.  Sleep is critical for overall health and development.  Lack of it affects our mood, lowers our immune system so we are more susceptible to colds and illnesses and affects our ability to focus and concentrate.  The average adult needs about 6-8 hours of consolidated sleep in a 24 hour period in order to function properly.  A child needs more:  11-12 hours of uninterrupted night sleep and about 2-3 hours of day sleep totaling about 13-15 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.   If youʼre balking at these figures (I did too when my daughter was born) know that these arenʼt unattainable - it just takes a bit of work on your part to get there.  Hereʼs how to get your baby closer to la-la land.
Avoid the overtired state
Many children are simply kept up too long between naps or before bedtime which results in a screaming, overtired baby.  Children who are overtired have an extremely hard time falling and staying asleep due to stress hormones that are released in the body to fight fatigue.  Night wakings, early morning wakings, short naps and meltdowns are classic signs of an exhausted baby.  If your baby is crying inconsolably and you canʼt find anything wrong, ask yourself:  how much sleep has she had?
For children under 6 months, keep wake time to 2 hours maximum between naps, watch for sleepy signs and then immediately begin soothing your baby for sleep.  It is very important to watch your baby for tired signs because even keeping her up an extra 10 or 15 minutes can push her into the overtired state, resulting in short naps and a cranky baby. For children older than 6 months, an age-appropriate sleep schedule is highly recommended.  This means that you will establish a predictable schedule to which you will consistently sleep your child at the times that you select his naps and bedtime to be.  Older babies thrive on routine and schedules and he will learn to expect sleep at your designated times.
Make sure your sleep routines are rock solid
Nap and night routines are essential in preparing your child for sleep.  As your baby grows, he will come to understand the routine and events within your routine will serve as sleep cues, resulting in a relaxed and sleepy baby.  A consistent routine will help your child shift gears and unwind from the day so itʼs important that you perform the same sequence of events in the same order at around the same time every day.   Make sure that the routine is an enticing one so that your child also looks forward to your special time together; incorporate some favorite books to read, lots of cuddles and kisses, some quiet things to do together.  The more enticing your routine is, the more compliant your child will be to go to bed.
Naps are essential
Good naps are essential to good night sleep.  As your baby grows, the amount of day sleep he needs will lessen however, children under 3 years old need to sleep during the day in order to recharge their battery and avoid the overtired state. Naps should be taken in a sleep-conducive room - their crib or bed - and not in the stroller or car and naps of 1 hour or more are considered restorative.  Some babies are okay with 45 minutes of sleep but most require about 1 hour or more to feel alert and refreshed.  Of course, some events calls for naps on the go but try and get your child to sleep in his crib or bed as much as possible. 
Bedtime is not too late
An age-appropriate bedtime is important for good night sleep.  All children have a biological time when they want to go to sleep for the night and many children are kept up past this time.  The result?  disturbed sleep, frequent night wakings, early morning wakings and a tired, grumpy baby in the morning.  An overtired child will have short naps, resulting in restless night sleep, resulting in early morning wakings... itʼs a vicious cycle.
Babies usually want to go to sleep somewhere between 6-8pm; closer to 6/6:30pm for young babies and closer to 8pm for older toddlers.  On average, most kids go to sleep around 7pm and usually wake for the day somewhere around 6:30-7am.  
If your child is waking up at night, crying a lot a night or waking up early in the morning (anytime earlier than 6am is too early), take a look at what time your baby is going to sleep for the night and then begin shifting his bedtime earlier.  Chances are, he will welcome the early bedtime and stay asleep.
Make sure your babyʼs room is conducive to sleep
To encourage sleep, make sure the room in which your child will sleep is free from distractions.
Install room-darkening shades to block out external light, use a white noise machine, soft background music or a fan to block out external noises that would otherwise wake baby up and remove any distractions from the crib such as toys, blinking objects or mirrors hanging on the rails.  The crib is for sleeping, not playing. 
Ensure that the room temperature is not too hot or not too cold
We all need to sleep in a comfortable temperature.  Some  like it warmer; some like it cooler.
You may need to try different things to get the most comfortable temperature beginning with making sure your baby is appropriately dressed based on your local climate.  Buy a digital room thermometer and place it in your childʼs room so you can figure out how to dress him at night.  Babies usually like sleeping in slightly cooler temperatures - around 18-21C or 64-70F.  Check the weather on a regular basis so youʼre prepared and will know how to dress your child for sleep.
Be consistent
Children will always fight sleep; itʼs just what they do.  Thereʼs so much to learn, so much to see and so much to experience that sleep just gets in the way!  However, while it is their job to test limits and fight sleep, itʼs our job to enforce sleep and ensure that our children get the rest they need.  A consistent sleep routine and schedule will only benefit your child, set her internal clock to feel sleepy for naps and bedtime which in turn, promotes growth and development.  If bedtime or nap times are inconsistent, it will be impossible for your child to regulate her internal clock and she will never get the proper sleep she needs to feel rested and happy.  Inconsistency in a childʼs sleep schedule will only result in an overtired and over-anxious baby.  The consistency of a predictable routine provides security and comfort to your child which in turn, will help her relax into sleep.

For more information about your childʼs sleep or getting your child to sleep better, please visit my blog at www.dreamybabies.ca or email me at kathy@dreamybabies.ca 


Gioia said...

Where was this when I was going through the "Please go to sleep" phase?!" :) Great post.

Now following you from MBC

Mama Hen said...

We have had many sleepless nights, but as my daughter gets older things are better. This is a great post! You have a new follower. Come visit me at Mama's Little Chick.

Mama Hen

Kathy said...

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write for your site; looking forward to writing more.


C said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. :)
Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I now follow you via Google Friend Connect.


Amy said...

Great post, my daughter is 2 and I've been struggling with sleep with her since day 1. I recently moved and changed her day care so it's become really difficult again. She seems to be having nightmares now, crying and screaming in her sleep. I hope it's just a phase because of the changes. I cosleep with her most of the night so I just try to give lots of hugs to make her feel better.
thanks again

TV's Take said...

Great post! Thanks for finding me through MBC, now following you back!

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