It is important to instill healthy sleeping habits right from the beginning to ensure the proper growth and development of children, but fostering healthy sleeping habits in an infant is not child’s play.
It requires a certain level of creativity and consistency.
Apart from maintaining your newborn’s overall health, healthy sleep habits will also come as a great help to parents who are sleep deprived.
Frequently waking up at night, daytime sleep challenges, and an overall lack of are some of the most common problems among the parents of newborns.
Let’s take a look at some helpful tips that can help you establish healthy sleep habits for your newborn so you and your baby can have a good night’s rest.
How Much Sleep Do Babies Need?
Newborns sleep for at least 14 to 18 hours in a 24-hour period.
That means they’re spending 75% of the day and night sleeping!
However, although they’re sleeping a lot, they aren’t sleeping for more than a few hours at a time – frequently waking to be fed and soothed.
By the time they reach 3-4 months, infants still need around 13 hours of sleep.
Most babies will require one or more night feedings until 6 or 7 months old, but 80% of babies sleep through the night by the time they turn nine months old.
1. Keep the Temperature Comfy
One of the most underestimated tips when developing healthy sleep habits for your newborn is room temperature.
Most parents worry about their babies being cold and bundle them in layers, which could lead to overheating (the #1 cause of SIDS).
Most infants sleep better in a comfortably cool environment – between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit is a good rule of thumb.
Keeping the room at a comfortable temperature has been shown to improve sleep quality and provide better rest for infants.
At this temperature, your baby will be comfortable in their normal onesie or footie sleepwear and a swaddle or wearable sleeping bag.
2. Find Out What Soothes Your Baby
Every baby is different – what is soothing for one baby might be a distraction for another.
Use trial and error to find out what calms your newborn.
It might be white noise, soothing music, lullabies, swaddling, or a combination of all these techniques.
Nested Bean’s Zen Swaddle has been shown to help soothe babies more than a traditional swaddle blanket because of its lightly weighted chest and sides that mimic your touch.
The additional light pressure lets babies feel like their palm is resting on their chest, providing reassurance.
Once you find the techniques that work, incorporate them into a relaxing bedtime routine that, when performed consistently, will become your baby’s cue that it’s time to sleep.
3. The Darker, The Better!
It is okay to install a few dimly lighted night bulbs but as far as providing proper sleep to the baby is concerned, the darker, the better!
When our body is exposed to sunlight, it releases chemicals that cause us to come into an active state.
The same goes for infants.
Use blackout shades to keep any natural light out of their nursery, and make sure your night bulbs aren’t too bright, as they can cause hurdles in your baby’s sleeping pattern.
4. Master Nap Time
Getting enough daytime sleep will set the foundation for good nighttime sleep.
A good night’s sleep will be easier if your baby is well-rested.
In order to get enough hours of sleep, babies require multiple naps throughout the day.
The number of naps will depend on their age, but nearly all babies at least twice per day until they are 12 months old.
If your baby becomes overtired and fatigued, a hormone known as cortisol is released, which can severely interfere with the baby’s sleep cycle, making it more irregular.
On the flip side, if your baby sleeps for too long during the day, their good night’s sleep can also be compromised.
Look out for your baby’s sleepiness cues to identify when they are tired and probably need a nap and try to maintain a consistent nap schedule to ensure they get just the right amount of sleep.
5. Add White Noise Or Soothing Music
It may sound strange but adding noise to your baby’s environment can help them sleep.
Although you want to keep their sleeping environment quiet and calm, adding white noise can help soothe your baby to sleep as it mimics the noises they were familiar with in the womb.
White noise is the sound that blocks any environmental noises that can prove to be detrimental to the baby’s sleep.
For instance, the sound of a fan running or a white noise machine helps cancel out other noises coming from in or around your home.
Some babies also respond well to light and soothing music meant for instigating sleep and reducing the effect of unwanted sounds.
6. Put Baby to Bed Drowsy, But Awake
After you create a soothing environment for your baby (in a dark space, at a comfortable temperature) and run through your soothing bedtime routine, make sure you are putting your baby down to sleep when they are nice and sleepy but still actually awake.
Starting this habit early on can help avoid making negative sleep associations, such as being rocked or fed to sleep, and will help your baby learn to fall asleep independently more quickly!
During the first few months of your baby’s life, loss of biological changes occurs.
Their sleep cycles aren’t fully developed yet, constantly shifting between light and deep sleep, making them vulnerable to frequent wake-ups.
But by instilling a few healthy sleep habits for your newborn now, your baby (and the rest of your family!) whole family will be enjoying a good night’s sleep in no time!