Probably the worst thing about having a new baby is the number of times mother must get up through the night either to feed or settle the new addition to the family. Sleep deprivation makes everyone feel crabby and unable to cope. It is not so bad if this only lasts for a few weeks, but when it goes on for months life is certainly not enjoyable. So what can be done?
It is natural for the new-born infant to waken during the night hours to be fed, but going back to sleep afterwards should also be part of the pattern. Baby needs to sleep a lot – it means he is content and happy. Lack of sleep means baby will be cranky and not feed or settle properly. To train your baby to sleep properly you need to establish a pattern of feeding, wake/play time and then sleep time.
Many parents fall into the trap of letting baby go to sleep at the end of the feed. This habit is easy to get into as babies often do fall asleep during feeding, but it is up to the mother to establish the best routine for sleep and so have a happy household.
Keeping baby awake for some time after the feed will ensure that any air ingested during feed will be successfully brought up. Having a little play/wake time after the feed will make baby tired enough to sleep – but not overtired – and he can then be put into his bed and will fall asleep more readily. Baby will then get to know that when he is put down, he goes to sleep.
If he is allowed to fall asleep in your arms before being put down, when he stirs he will be upset to find himself in another place, with no mummy. Then he will cry. By putting him to bed when he is still awake but tired enough to fall asleep quickly, he will quickly realise that bed is a good place to be. And he will not be frightened of being on his own when he wakens.
It is important to put baby down for his nap before he get tired enough to be cranky. A baby who is upset only wants his mummy, not his bed. It may take a week or two to establish this routine, but it is worthwhile doing if it brings relief from all that night crying. Not only will baby be happier after a good night’s sleep, but so will the rest of the household.
To help baby sleep during the day, the room can be darkened with blinds or curtains. Ensure that baby is comfortable – not too hot or too cold, and tuck him in firmly under his sheet or blankets. That way he will feel safe and secure. Never place the cot too close to the window where baby might be able to reach the blind puller or other drapery. Babies can easily get tangled up and choke on such things.