This blog is written by Emma Purdue from www.babysleepconsultant.co
During the first few weeks of parenthood, it is common for babies to experience changes in their sleep patterns as they adapt to their new environment. This may lead to inconsistent sleep schedules, with some days being more challenging than others. As a new parent, it is important to be patient and understanding as you navigate this transition period with your baby.
Establishing a consistent pre-sleep routine and creating a calm and comfortable sleeping environment can help your baby develop healthy sleep habits and make the adjustment process smoother for both you and your little one.
A swaddle can help them feel secure and calm, minimising the startle reflex and promoting great sleep. White noise, such as the sound of a gentle fan or a specialized machine, can mimic the comforting sounds of the womb and block out other noises that might disturb a baby's sleep. A pacifier can also soothe a fussy baby and promote relaxation, leading to more restful sleep for both the baby and caregivers.
Establishing a consistent and effective bedtime routine can be incredibly beneficial for both babies and parents. Starting from around 6 weeks old, implementing a regular routine can help your little one feel more secure and relaxed, making it easier for them to settle down and enjoy longer periods of sleep throughout the night.
A well-planned bedtime routine may include activities such as giving a bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby, or simply cuddling with your baby.
If you wish to introduce one bottle of expressed milk a day, right before bed is a great time to do this, allowing Dad to be involved and giving Mum options in the evening.
Check out the full range of Haakaa Breastfeeding Accessories!
Here's a suggested routine that you may find helpful:
- Start with a half feed to ensure baby isn’t hungry, and then a warm bath to help relax your baby. The change in temperature from a warm bath to cooler air actually helps support sleep as your baby’s temperature has to drop slightly for them to fall asleep.
- Follow the bath with a gentle massage using baby-safe oil or lotion. This can help promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
- Once your baby is relaxed and calm, swaddle them in a comfortable blanket. Swaddling can help your baby feel secure and prevent them from being startled awake by their own movements.
- Finally, feed your baby in a dark, quiet environment. This can help signal to your baby that it's time for sleep, and the darkness will help them produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Remember to follow the routine consistently each night to help your baby establish healthy sleep habits.
At around 8-16 weeks of age, most babies begin to experience a more mature sleep structure, characterized by shorter naps. While this can be a source of frustration for parents, it is a natural and necessary part of their baby's development. During this time, the baby's brain is undergoing significant changes, and waking after a complete sleep cycle is completely normal.
At this stage, it may be more convenient to provide four naps per day.
This period is often referred to as the 4-month sleep regression, which can be an exhausting time for both parents and babies alike. During this stage, it's important to ensure that your baby is getting enough sleep, as lack of sleep can lead to irritability, fussiness and broken nights.
To help your baby sleep better during this stage, provide them with enough awake time during the day to help them feel tired and ready to sleep for both their naps and at night. Additionally, creating a dark, cool sleep environment can also be helpful. This can include using a white noise machine to create a consistent background noise.
Finally, having your baby fall asleep in their cot rather than on you, can help if you are struggling with short naps and a fussy baby. This doesn’t mean CIO (cry it out), it simply means putting your baby down when they are calm and ready to sleep, and then helping them get off to sleep in their cot with some rocking, or patting or a pacifier.
4 naps to 3
At around 5-6 months of age, your baby will start to experience changes in their sleep patterns and routines. This is a great age to transition from taking 4 short naps in a day to having 3 naps a day. Your baby's sleep needs will vary at this age, but most infants will benefit from following a 3 nap a day routine.
One important aspect of transitioning to 3 naps a day is consolidating naps 2 and 3 into one longer midday nap. This longer nap will provide your baby with a more restful and restorative sleep, which is essential for their growth and development.
It is much easier for your baby to link their sleep cycles at this age, which means they will be able to take a longer nap without waking up frequently. This will also help them learn to take longer naps in the future, which is important for the 3-2 nap transition. 2 short naps isn’t a lot of sleep!
It is worth noting that every baby is unique, and some may take longer to transition to 3 naps a day. However, most babies will benefit from following a 3 nap a day routine as the shorter naps do not provide enough quality sleep in the long run. This is especially important as your baby starts to roll and learn to crawl, as they will need more restful sleep to fuel their physical and cognitive development.
Solids and sleep
The transition from a milk-only diet to solid foods is a significant milestone in a baby's development. It marks the beginning of a new phase in their growth, where they can now explore and experience a wide range of tastes and textures.
For parents, this is an exciting time as they get to introduce their little ones to new foods and watch as they develop their taste preferences. It is also an opportunity for parents to bond with their babies over mealtime and establish healthy eating habits that will benefit them in the long run.
During the first few months of a baby's life, sleep can be easily disrupted if they are hungry. To ensure that your baby's sleep is protected during this phase, it is recommended that you continue to offer milk as the first source of nourishment until the baby reaches 8 months of age.
This will help ensure that your baby is well-fed and will not wake up hungry in the middle of the night, which can disrupt their sleep patterns.
To ensure a good balance of milk and a solids diet, it is recommended to introduce lunch around 11am as the first meal of the day, and dinner as the second meal around 5pm. Offer new foods at lunch time to avoid night sleep disruptions from any adverse reactions to food.
Haakaa has a great range of feeders, freezer trays and more to get you started on your solids journey.
Teething and sleep
Teething is often considered to be a major cause of sleep disturbance in infants, but there is a lack of scientific evidence to support this claim. While teething can cause discomfort and pain in some babies, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that it directly affects sleep patterns. Other factors, such as changes in routine, illness or developmental milestones, may have a greater impact on a child's sleep than teething.
When a baby's tooth is starting to emerge, it is common for them to feel some level of discomfort. However, if you notice that your baby is having trouble sleeping, crying excessively, or showing other signs of distress, it is important to consider other potential causes and seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
Simple solutions such as teethers can be a great asset during these teething months. Teethers are designed to provide a safe and satisfying chewing experience for babies, which can help alleviate their discomfort and promote healthy oral development.
Haakaa's teether range means there's something suitable for almost every baby!
Rolling over and sleep
As your baby grows, they will reach different milestones, such as rolling over, which can cause some disruption during sleep. It is important to remember that learning to roll is a gradual process and requires patience. Giving your baby plenty of time to practice and master this skill during their awake windows can make a big difference in how well they sleep at night.
To help your baby become comfortable with rolling, it is essential to encourage them to spend time on their tummy during the day. This will help them develop their muscles, improve their balance, and make it easier for them to roll over. You can also try placing toys or objects just out of reach to encourage your baby to move and reach out for them, which can further strengthen their muscles and coordination.
It is equally important to allow your baby to practice rolling from their tummy to their back, as well as from their back to their tummy. This will help them develop the necessary skills to move around freely and confidently. Make sure to supervise your baby at all times during these exercises to ensure their safety.
By encouraging your baby to practice rolling and other movements during the day, you can help them become more comfortable and confident, leading to better sleep at night for both you and your little one.
3 naps to 2
As your baby grows and develops, their sleep patterns will also change. At around 7-8 months of age, you may notice that your baby's daytime sleep needs start to decrease. This is a sign that it's time to transition from three naps a day to two naps. This transition creates a longer last awake time, which often correlates to longer night sleep stretches.
During this transition, you might find your baby’s bedtime moves slightly earlier for a few days as they adjust to no third nap.
It's worth noting that this transition may take some time, and your baby may need some help adjusting. Be patient and consistent with your approach, and soon enough, your baby will be sleeping well during the day and night.
Standing and sleep
The ability to stand is one of the most significant physical developments during a baby's first 12 months of life. At this stage, babies will often practice standing in their cot when they are put to bed, and sometimes during the night. It is common for some babies to get stuck in the standing position and become frustrated. If this happens, you can assist them by gently lying them back down.
In addition to this, it is a good idea to spend some time during the day teaching your baby how to sit down from a standing position and then lie down. This process helps to develop muscle memory that can be used during sleep time in the cot. You can encourage your baby to do this by placing a toy or object on the ground and encouraging them to sit down and pick it up.
It's important to note that babies develop at their own pace, so don't worry if your baby is not standing yet. Every baby is different, and they will reach this milestone in their own time. However, if you are concerned about your baby's development, it's always a good idea to speak to your paediatrician.
Longer night sleep
As your baby grows older, their sleep patterns change, and you can begin to work towards achieving longer stretches of uninterrupted nighttime sleep. It is important to note that every baby is different, and some may take longer to sleep through the night than others.
As a general guideline, we suggest that once your baby weighs more than 6.5kg, they may be able to sleep through with just two night feeds. However, it's important to remember that this is just a guideline, and you should always listen to your baby's needs and adjust accordingly.
As your baby starts to eat solids, you can gradually transition down to just one night feed. This transition should be done slowly, allowing your baby to adjust to the changes. It's important to note that some babies may still require two feeds at night, even after starting solids.
By the time your baby is around 9 months old, it is realistic to expect that they can sleep through the night without any feeds, if they haven't already done so. However, every baby is different, and some may still need one feed at night. It's important to remember that this is completely normal, and you should always listen to your baby's needs.
Baby Sleep Consultant Founder