Before being able to sleep regularly just like us grown ups, baby brains need to mature so as to develop complex patterns such as the day & night cycle. Ang totoo niyan --- all the noise, smell and sensations from the outside world seem different from those they experienced when they were inside our tummies. Getting used to these may take longer for some babies than others.
So how can you help your baby? By providing bearings (or love routines for your bunso) and of course, a lot of love!
Good sleep to grow well
Babies sleep most times during the first few months, ‘di ba? Sleep allows our little ones to recover from their waking periods and lets them grow and develop normally. It is while they sleep that the hypophysis (gland at the base of the brain) secretes a growth hormone.
A baby's sleep consists of two alternate stages :
- Non-rapid eye movement sleep - During this period of about 20 minutes of quiet sleep, baby sleeps peacefully and his growth hormone production is at the highest level.
- Rapid eye movement sleep - During this phase, baby is a little bit restless and sleep is lighter with a number of short waking phases. This time is important for his brain maturation or development. Between these two major sleep stages are less marked sleep phases. It must be noted that generally, babies almost always begin their nights with a restless sleep phase.
How long does a baby usually sleep?
- 16 hours on average (with extremes between 14 and 20 hours per day) for a newborn
- 15 hours at around six and half months
- 13 hours at the age of 4
Daytime naps also lessen as baby gets older :
- 3 to 4 daily naps at around 6 months
- 2 naps at 12 months
- 1 afternoon nap at 18 months
Sleeping through the night, often a source of worry for parents, is different for each baby! Some sleep straight in just a few weeks. While for other babies, several months are often necessary before their body clocks get programmed to having that long good night’s rest. Pero, huwag mag-alaala, mommy, kasi eventually, the daily routine of scheduled meals, playing, bathing and bonding with family will help the bulilits adapt to our regular day-night cycle. And soon, they will sleep so mahimbing at night!
A little helping hand to encourage deep sleep
While inside the womb and during the first few weeks of life, there was no difference between day and night for your baby. Kaya naman, here are some simple tips to help your baby adjust to this day-night cycle:
- Provide bearings or love routines!
- At night, make sure that the house is quiet and that the blinds or curtains are closed so that baby is in the dark.
For the daytime nap, however, you can leave a little lamplight on. You may go about your chores as usual, a little noise will not disturb your baby.
- Establish a bedtime routine so that your baby understands that soon it is time to go to sleep. Changing your baby's nappy, putting his pajamas on, singing a lullaby and having a big cuddle can be part of this evening ritual. When your baby is a little older, you may read a bedtime story together.
Make sure that the nap routine is different so your baby doesn't get confused --- perhaps, just a short nursery rhyme, a little kiss and then, naptime!
- Train your baby to have a fixed schedule. After feeding on-demand for the first few weeks, begin feeding at set times.
- Make sure that the baby's bedroom is not too cold, not too hot. The ideal temperature is between 18 ° C and 20 °C.
- Baby still sleeps in your room? Syempre naman, this reassures both of you, right? Being near each other means you don't have to get up to go check if everything's alright, or to feed if you are breastfeeding. Pero it is advisable to keep this sleeping arrangement only for the first few months, not longer than that. Baby must be able to sleep alone early on in his own room. This is essential for the quality of baby’s sleep, and for you and your spouse as a couple!
- Your baby cannot go to sleep without his favorite toy or without sucking his thumb? Don't take it away. It soothes your baby and helps him go to sleep. Your baby will decide when it is time to give it up. Sa ngayon, it is precious help for his quiet sleep!
- Baby cries when falling asleep? Leave your baby alone for a few minutes. Babies often need to shed a few tears to be able to fall asleep and this is natural. If your baby doesn't calm down, go see him. He needs to be reassured that you are just nearby.
Safely in bed, safety assured
- Choose a crib with proper safety standards and a firm mattress of the right size. This is to prevent your baby from getting stuck between the crib and the mattress or between the bars.
- Babies sleep better on their backs. Their faces don’t touch anything and therefore, they can breathe more easily.
- Don’t put unnecessary things on the baby's bed (covers, pillows etc.). A sleeping bag is enough to stop a baby from getting cold. Baby's favorite toy is fine but a whole group of furry friends is a no-no!
- To lessen the risk of crib death, pediatricians recommend that babies sleep on their backs and that the room be kept at a temperature that's not too hot (18 - 20 °C is enough to keep your baby warm). Air the bedroom regularly and above all, keep it smoke-free!