By Catherine L Pittman © 2009
What new parent isn’t sleepless in parentville? You will want to try to stay awake long enough to read a few helpful tips that may get you through what may at this moment seem like a never ending time.
No one seems to offer a sure fire plan as to how to get your little one to sleep through the night. The first key is to know you are not alone! Every new parent has faced sleepless nights due to infant or child issues, and feels not only sleep deprived but quite helpless. There are plenty of books and advice on the subject. Some recommend getting up with your baby a dozen times a night; others suggest letting them cry themselves to sleep. With contradictory advice of this nature, it is no wonder new parents are confused!
A survey taken by Mother & Baby magazine revealed some rather shocking statistics: mothers on average slept three and a half hours each night during their baby’s first four months. That same research unearthed that 23% of new fathers failed to wake up when their little one cried--- a whopping 76% of fathers enjoyed a full, blissful slumber.
While babies need sleep to grow and develop and they acquire sleep associations along the way that can last a life time, it is just as important for their parents to feel as rested as possible too. Perseverance is the key for parents with babies less than six weeks old because at this point in their life their little sleep patterns are quite erratic. Here are some tips to help you and your child get a good nights rest, and establish good sleep patterns.
§ It’s OK to take a catnap when your little one is sleeping. In fact, new mothers should sleep whenever baby sleeps during the first four months. This will help mom get through the hurdle of the first stage.
§ When establishing a bedtime for your baby or toddler, consistency is a key ingredient. When you find a method that works, stick to it.
§ Bedtime and naptime are not negotiable! Remember who is in charge. Like a balanced meal, sleep is just as important for your growing child.
§ The new dad can be most helpful at night by feeding, changing or soothing baby during the night. This will not only allow the new mother to receive adequate rest, but ensure that her milk is the best quality. Sharing the workload can help get both parents through this difficult time with a little more harmony (and sleep!).
§ Don’t try to limit your baby’s sleep to daytime hours, as this will not help your child sleep better at night. During the first four months, your baby will likely spend the better part of a 24 hour period sleeping.
§ Avoid letting your baby fall asleep while feeding. When a baby falls asleep while breast or bottle feeding, they will require and expect the same routine when they wake during the night.
§ At about four months you’ll begin to see a regular pattern emerge: waking at around 7 a.m., tiring at 9 a.m., sleeping until around 11 a.m. Tiring again at around 1pm, sleeping until about 3pm., waking all bright eyed and bushy tailed until about 5pm, where it's time for a catnap of 20 or 30 minutes. Between 7 and 8pm, baby will be ready for bed. At this stage, your baby may still awaken once or twice during the night.
§ Make bedtime a predictable routine to let your child know that bedtime is near and it’s time to begin preparing for a good night’s sleep. A good way to establish a routine bedtime is to sing or play soft lullabies to your little one as you are preparing them for bed. With toddlers, use a good night storybook while listening to soft background music as your routine.
§ Establishing an early bedtime will avoid your child becoming overtired or hyperactive in the evening. Any time between 7 and 8pm is ideal for most infants or toddlers to head to bed.
§ Your child's sleep routine as a continuous 24 hour cycle. Whatever occurs during one stage directly impacts all the other stages of the day. Don’t skip naps or allow late night bedtimes.
About the Author
Catherine resides in Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions. The company specializes in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten, and also produces a FREE bi-monthly ezine, Parent Patter Magazine. Parents who subscribe to the FREE ezine receive a FREE music sampler download. The sampler includes complete song samples of current and soon-to-be released albums. Our children's music is available on CD at www.pitterpatterproductions.com, and is available for download at: CD Baby, Amazon.com, and iTunes.