One of the biggest adjustments surrounding becoming a new parent pertains to all things related to sleep! Helping your baby to get into a consistent sleep routine, ensuring you as the caregiver are getting enough sleep, and navigating the ever changing needs for sleep schedules as your little one grows can throw some curveballs your way as you journey through the first year of parenthood. Today we are going to explore the importance of sleep for you and your new baby, as well as how to implement a schedule and habits that will encourage sleep for all, right from the start!
Prioritizing good quality sleep and a consistent sleep schedule will benefit you and your baby as you move through their first year of life. Babies rapidly grow and develop throughout their first year and their little bodies require plenty of rest to do this well! Regular sleep patterns allows their internal clock to recognize day from night, it promotes healthy brain development, & it contributes to their overall health and well being. As a parent, getting enough sleep will help your brain and body to get the rest it needs to keep up with caring for your baby. Lack of sleep for both adults and babies can cause upset, overtime it can lower immune systems and causes an inability to keep up with the happenings of each new day. Likewise, providing yourself and your baby with high quality wake time activities will promote overall health and well being. This is why getting into a healthy routine and making adjustments as needed is so important!
Also, keep in mind that high quality nutrition plays a role in ensuring your baby is getting all of their needs met and it contributes to their ability to rest and get enough sleep. Full tummies make for happy babies! Whether you are nursing, formula feeding or supplementing, be sure to check out organic baby formula, such as these European baby formulas, to provide them with the highest quality nutrients to support their development.
As a newborn, your baby will likely take many frequent naps throughout the day and night. They typically will follow a semi-regular routine of eating and sleeping and likely will be awake for about an hour at a time before needing to nap again. Do not worry if their first few weeks of their life feel as if sleep is sporadic. If there are certain times that they are awake for longer or refuse to sleep on their own, that is totally ok and to be expected as they adjust to life outside of the womb! The most important thing you can do for them is learn to recognize their tired clues (fussiness, rubbing eyes, yawning, pulling ears) and setting the stage for them to drift off to sleep peacefully as soon as you notice these cues. If it is daytime, prepare their sleeping space (ideally in a quiet, calming and comfortable area) and soothe them as needed so that they can fall asleep. As soon as they wake, move them into a new space and interact with them by using their tummy time mat, talking to them or reading them a book. When they wake during the night, be sure to tend to their feeding and diapering needs and keep the environment calming so that they can begin to relate nighttime as a time to rest. Overtime, these habits will help their bodies to recognize there is a difference between sleep time and wake time and it will enable them to establish their internal clocks as they continue to grow. While it can be tough to rest as a parent during the first few weeks with a newborn, do your very best to sleep whenever you can, preferably when your baby is sleeping. This will help you to clock as much rest as possible during a notably tiring season.
Around two months of age, you may notice your little one is falling into a more predictable sleep pattern. Perhaps they are starting to nap at the same times each day and sleeping for longer stretches throughout the night. They will also likely be more aware of their surroundings at this point and wake if there is a loud noise, unfamiliar surroundings or other disturbances. Keep in mind that as you near the four month mark however, sleep regressions and even teething pain can interrupt this routine. Continue to look for those tired cues as needed and provide them with appropriate stimulation during wake times such as going on a walk outside, placing them in a swing or bouncer so you can interact with them face to face and otherwise helping their little brains to be exposed to new experiences.
By this stage, your little one just might have a predictable sleep routine down pat! They might be fully sleeping through the night, with about three naps spaced out throughout the day. This may be the point where you begin to feel like you are getting more regular nights of sleep, too!
During this stage, another developmental sleep regression may be to blame if sleep becomes a little less predictable. Keep in mind that a little one's rapid brain growth, coupled with teething discomforts and developmental separation anxiety may interrupt an otherwise well planned out sleep schedule. Aim to give your baby a morning and afternoon nap each day and stick to a consistent bedtime routine. Nightly bedtime routines may include a soothing bath and baby massage, followed by a book, a feeding and cuddles before putting them down for the night.
As you near their first birthday, your baby can now tell the difference between day and night and likely shows very specific signs when they are ready for a rest. As they rapidly grow, crawl and maybe even take their first steps, their brains and bodies are working hard to keep up with all of the excitement! While some babies at this stage are in a completely predictable routine, others may still struggle. No matter where your baby falls on this scale, know that continuing to promote a healthy sleep schedule, providing the best nutrition, and plenty of opportunities for interaction and stimulation during the day will all contribute to healthy growth and development!
As a new parent or caregiver, you need to prioritize high quality rest, nutrition and brain stimulation for yourself so that you can best meet your new bundle's needs. Aim to go to sleep as soon as you can once your baby goes down for the night, switch off care responsibilities with your partner, and don't be afraid to ask your village of family or friends for some help! Stick to a fresh and healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids and aim for light and regular exercise as your schedule allows. Lastly, find a hobby that you can do just for yourself, around your baby's needs. Reading is a great choice, as is regularly chatting with other new parents to allow yourself a chance to still have some adult-like interactions!
If your baby doesn't follow an exact schedule, despite your very best efforts, do your best to stay calm. There are so many changes happening throughout the first year and sometimes it feels that just as you get your routine down, a new tooth, sleep disturbances, a cold or other unforeseen obstacle throws everything off track! Don't compare your baby's schedule to that of others. Aim to consistently meet their unique physical, mental and emotional needs in the best ways you can and trust that in doing so, you are doing a great job as a parent!
Intersted in more topics related to sleep, as well as wake time activities for both you and your baby?! Be sure to check out these related posts below:
Wishing you restful nights and happy babies!
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