There is a lot of misinformation circulated by well-meaning friends and sources about infant sleep. Who are you supposed to trust when it comes to getting your baby to rest? There are aunties, experienced parents, blogs, and pediatricians who all have THE tools to get your baby to sleep reliably.
Still, when you try to implement what they say, it ends up being a mish-mash of a little bit of one thing, and some of what you remembered reading, and the all-too-real stuff of what actually worked to get your baby to dreamland.
We love helping families learn strategies to use with their children, and learn how they can best meet their kids where they are at in their sleep journey. One of the most important factors in getting to the roots of their information, and give a foundation of facts. From there, we get to layer your baby’s personality, needs, and lifestyle on top of it. Here are some facts about sleep every parent should know
An overtired baby may not be easily soothed, but getting your baby sleep has to happen before you can use trusted tools to help them going forward. So if going for a walk, using a babywearing device, going for a drive, or holding your baby is the only way you know to get them sleep, we start there.
Having help for this part is usually a game-changer, and a trusted friend, tagging out with a partner, or hiring a postpartum doula is an excellent option for helping you to stem the seemingly endless need for your baby to be attached to you.
Many pediatricians advise having an elevated sleep surface or using rolled towels or blankets to prop or move your baby into a position that helps them sleep, especially if your baby has any sort of reflux. This is not recommended by the AAP and does not follow safe sleep recommendations.
Having conflicted professionals giving you advice is part of the struggle parents have to navigate. Educating yourself on why those recommendations are offered is as important as getting the information.
Your baby is not physically or mentally wired to go to sleep like you are. Your baby has seldom been in the positions we place them to sleep as newborns, and they have sleep reflexes that have helped keep our species alive until they are better able to care for themselves. These reflexes make it hard for babies to have long stretches of sleep.
Learning about your baby’s sleep cycles and how your baby’s brain works are some ways you can quiet expectations of your wee babe.
Like there are hunger cues to learn, there are sleep cues you can learn. Both have early, mid, and late signals.
Spacing, or gazing for periods of time
Jerking head or arm movements
Trying to pull or grab their face
“Settling sounds” like grunts or squeaks, or long sighs
Being hard to soothe
Back is arched, or very tight muscles and rigid body
Depending on your child’s age, it may seem like all you are doing after they wake up is getting ready for their next nap – and after getting a diaper change, and more food, it very well may be the case! But your baby needs to sleep A LOT, which means their awake times seem to move pretty quickly.
One thing that is not true is that prolonging awake time will make babies sleep “better” or “longer.” When sleep is stalled, babies need extra help to calm and be soothed. Their naps most likely will remain the same length because of the way they cycle through sleep, meaning they only get less sleep overall.
The sleep cycles for babies mean they are designed to have more periods where they can be woken up by hunger, wetness, or other basic needs as a survival mechanism. Their ability to “rationalize” through light sleeping times and self soothe back to sleep depends on age, overall weight gain, and having developmental milestones met.
Some of the confusion about helping babies sleep in longer stretches, is that their daytime routine needs to be considered as well. If your baby is not able to have restorative sleep during the day, it is harder for them to have restorative sleep at night. They may be exerting too much energy and need to have more calories. They may need help to nap with the use of a sound machine or reducing noise or light. Or, It may be early cues are missed, and the window for sleep gets missed until the next cycle for sleep is next available.
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Uptown Doula is Charlotte's first choice in birth support & postpartum care.
Our team of professional doulas in Charlotte, NC provides families with evidence-based birth support, postpartum & newborn care, infant feeding support, childbirth education, placenta encapsulation, and more.
We support new and expectant parents in and around Charlotte, NC, including Denver, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, and Pineville.