It's normal for most babies to wake up during the night, so be prepared to lose a lot of sleep! Here are some tips to help establish healthy sleep habits in your baby.
Helping baby sleep
Most newborns have a hard time distinguishing between night and day, hence their sometimes frustratingly short bursts of sleep, especially in the night. Don't fret, though, as once your baby is a few weeks old, you can start teaching your newborn the difference and establish healthy sleep habits. Here are some tips:
Keep your baby's days bright and the nights dark so it's obvious when it's time to sleep. During the day, keep your house bright, talk to your baby more and have more playtime. During the night, dim the lights and speak softly and calmly in a lower tone of voice. If you use a night-light in your baby's room, choose a small and dim one with a bluish tone, as the white or yellow-light varieties tend to stimulate wakefulness.
Grab sleep whenever you can
Due to their immature digestive systems, newborns need to be fed every few hours. As this will disrupt your normal sleep pattern, try to nap whenever your baby sleeps. Get your family support system, such as your husband or a helper if you have one, to help out with housework and meals during this time so that you're well rested and in a good frame of mind to take care of your baby. Don't worry, this stage will pass as babies tend to sleep throughout the night as they get older.
Develop a bedtime routine
This is best done when your baby is between weeks 6 and 8. Developing a bedtime routine is one of the best ways to get your baby to sleep well. It means doing the same things each evening to prepare your little one for bed. For example, prepare a warm soothing bath followed by a short massage and then a quiet time-feed routine. Put your baby in the cot when your little darling is feeling drowsy and is likely to fall asleep naturally. You can also try putting on some soothing lullabies or soft classical music while doing the bedtime routine so that your baby will start associating that particular piece of music with sleep. This comes in useful when travelling! If you take turns with your husband or family members to put baby to bed, make sure that everyone is consistent.
Use this sleep position
Making your baby sleep on his or her back reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or "cot death". Remove fluffy toys, pillows, cot bumpers or quilts to reduce the possibility of accidental suffocation. Move your baby's head position each night (for example, from right to left and left to right) to prevent a flat spot on one side of the head. Don't let your precious one sleep in cloth cradles as these are unsafe.
By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG Senior O&G Resident,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital
The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore
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