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home : features : features December 17, 2014

4/10/2010 9:59:00 PM
How to help your infant sleep like a baby


Are you a sleep-deprived new parent? Don't despair. Sleepless nights are typical for most new parents. In fact, infants may sleep 16 or more hours a day, but often in stretches of just one to two hours at a time. This erratic pattern becomes more consistent as the newborn's nervous system matures and he or she is able to go longer between feedings. By three months, many babies sleep for five-hour stretches. By six months, it's possible for a baby to sleep from nine to 12 hours during the night.
How can you help your baby develop positive sleep habits that help them sleep through the night? Even with a newborn, it is not too early to establish patterns that will help him or her sleep safely and well. Here are some recommendations:
• Create a safe sleep environment. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends placing babies to sleep on their backs to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). According to AAP, SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants between one month and 12 months old. Because babies sleeping on their sides are more likely to accidentally roll onto their stomachs, the side position also is not recommended.
• The baby's crib should be safety-approved, with a sheet that fits appropriately on a firm mattress. Clear the crib of soft toys, pillows, fluffy blankets and comforters as these items can restrict breathing if they cover the infant's face. Make sure the baby's head is not covered by a blanket. Finally, dress your baby lightly for sleep, setting the room temperature so that it is comfortable for a lightly-clothed adult.
• Encourage activity during the day. Interacting with your baby during the day by talking, singing and playing can help promote better sleep at night.
• Monitor the length of your baby's naps. Naptime is typically the time for new parents to complete household chores. Monitor the length of infant naps to ensure they are not too long. Extended naps may leave your baby wide awake at bedtime.
• Establish a bedtime routine. Make bedtime relaxing by cuddling, singing, reading or even giving your baby a bath. Soon the infant will associate these activities with sleep. It is best to place baby in the crib while he or she is drowsy, but awake.
• Give your baby time to settle down. Your baby may fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position in which to fall asleep. If crying continues, check to make sure he or she is not hungry or in need of a diaper change. Speak calmly and stroke your baby's back as your reassuring presence may be all your baby needs to fall asleep. Remember to return your baby to his back, which is the safest sleeping position, before you leave.
• Keep nighttime care low-key. When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will tell your baby that it is time to sleep.
Sleep-deprived new parents should keep in mind that this phase is temporary. As newborns grow, sleep becomes a more natural part of the routine for children.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2010
Article comment by: Simple Editing

My favorite part of this article is one of the tips being about how your baby should sleep on their backs, but the picture shows a baby sleeping on their stomach.....simple editing folks, simple editing.....

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