A baby sleeping 8 hours per night must be every new mother’s dream. Unfortunately, according to experts, it remains a dream. Even though newborns sleep around 16 hours a day, they typically don’t stay asleep for more than 2 to 4 hours. I’m sure any new mom can confirm that their baby’s schedule is an extremely exhausting one. After the huge effort of childbirth, you can’t even get a good night’s sleep! Luckily the hormones released during breastfeeding relax the new mother and compensate for sleep deprivation a bit.
At 6 to 8 weeks of age, most babies begin to sleep for shorter periods during the day and longer periods at night, though most continue to wake up to feed during the night. My baby has completed 5 weeks and last night she delighted me by sleeping 8 consecutive hours! It would really be a blessing and an immense improvement of my quality of life if she continued sleeping 8 hours per night!
Everybody seems to be asking me if my baby lets me sleep at night and some even call me names when I reply that she does! It’s so important that both you and your baby sleep so here are some tips for helping your baby settle down to sleep:
- “For the first six to eight weeks, most babies aren’t able to stay up much longer than two hours at a time. If you wait longer than that to put your baby down, he may be overtired and have trouble falling asleep.” I can confirm this with my own experience – the first 5 weeks seemed like one long blurb – there seemed to be only a slight difference between day and night – in that my baby would not require to be entertained when mama was sleeping, but she would wake up every 2-3 hours to be fed, which then was prolonged to one stretch of 4 hours and then several stretches of 2 hours. In week 6 she is able to sleep for 6-8 hour stretches – fantastic!
- “Watch your baby for signs that he’s tired. Is he rubbing his eyes, pulling on his ear, or being more fussy than normal? If you spot these or any other signs of sleepiness, try putting him down to sleep.” I must admit that I never actually “put my baby to sleep” as she is able to doze off in any conditions: on my lap, on my shoulder, on the changing table, in the car, and very reluctant to go to sleep in her cot!
- “Teach him the difference between day and night.” This I have been doing successfully from the beginning by stimulating her a lot during the day and keeping interaction to minimum and lights low at night.
- “Give him a change to fall asleep on his own.” “Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Sleeping Through the Night advises against rocking or nursing your baby to sleep, even at this young age. “Parents think that what they do this early doesn’t have an effect,” she says, “but it does. Babies are learning their sleep habits. If you rock your child to sleep every night for the first eight weeks, why would he expect anything different later on?”" I must admit that I was one of those mothers who would nurse her baby to sleep for the first 4 weeks or so – it was so comfortable – until I absolutely had to burp my baby. Also when I started feeding her from both breasts instead of just one at a time, the feedings became less frequent and the naps longer. I now tried to put my baby down swaddled in a blanket with a pacifier in her mouth (which initially I had to hold with my finger) and it worked! Actually these were the times when she slept longest!
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