As a new parent you probably got a lot of good natured ribbing – “welcome to the land of the sleep deprived” and so on. And the truth is that many new parents tend to be bleary eyed, exhausted souls who wondering what they’ve got themselves into – baby seems to have no discernable sleep pattern and has zero regard for her parents’ sleep or even whether its day or night!
A little bit about baby sleep patterns
During the first couple of months baby will do only two things – eat and sleep. There will be little if anything you can do to regulate either. Baby will get hungry about every two hours. Obviously she will awaken that frequently and will have to be fed at those intervals.
Some babies can and do sleep longer, but it is not really reasonable to expect new born infants to realize that its night time and to graciously go off to sleep and stay asleep for 4-5 hours (yes 5 hours is considered sleeping through the night).
Know that the sleep patterns of different babies differ greatly. Also one baby’s sleep pattern may alter and change along with certain developmental milestones. So if baby changes her sleep pattern just as it seemed she was settling down, try not to take it personally.
Also understand that baby’s only method of communication is crying – whether hungry, sleepy, tired, cold, hot, colicky, excited or just in need of attention – babies will cry. It’s what they do; they aren’t doing it to annoy and neither are they doing it because you did something wrong.
Developing healthy sleep patterns
Here are some tips to help you avoid sleep problems and develop healthy sleep patterns:
- Learn to recognize the signs that baby is sleepy – fussing, yawning, rubbing the eyes and so on. don’t let baby get over-tired, get baby to sleep before he crosses over into that zone of a crying jag brought on by tiredness
- Set bed time routines. Lower the lights, keep stimulation to a minimum, and engage in quiet, soothing rituals like a bath, a massage, a lullaby or some reading. Develop some consistency. Studies have also shown that developing bedtime routines help babies sleep better, and reduce the number of times that baby woke up in the night.
- It is important for baby to get enough nap time during the day as well. This will prevent his getting overtired by night time.
- If you find yourself getting angry, (and yes it’s perfectly natural for you to get angry), take a time out and calm down!