We all want our babies to sleep for longer periods of time. While there’s no rushing nature on this one (babies will wake up to eat every three hours or so for the first four months regardless of what we do), there are some things you can do to make baby’s sleep environment conducive to sleeping more soundly and for longer periods of time.
The first thing you need to understand about your baby’s sleep patterns is that they spend a lot more time in light sleep than you do. Babies, as a matter of fact, spend about twice as much time in light sleep than adults do.
Because babies spend more time in light sleep, we need to create a sleeping environment for them which is less likely to jar them out of sleep before they are ready to wake up. Here are some basic things you can do to make the most of your baby’s sleeping environment:
- Make some noise. This might sound counter intuitive, but by the time baby is born, she is actually accustomed to a certain amount of noise. Believe it or not, your womb is a noisy place. If baby’s sleep area is too quiet, it can actually make it harder for her to sleep. Consider using a white noise CD or putting a fan near baby’s crib.
- Block out the light. While babies can and do sleep during daylight hours, they will usually stay asleep longer if it is reasonably dark. Consider using dark shades on windows in baby’s room.
- Don’t clutter the crib. Not only is it unsafe to fill baby’s crib up with toys, loose blankets, and pillows, but it can actually make it harder for her to stay asleep. Babies have brief waking moments during sleep, just as adults do. If nothing catches their eye, they will usually fall back asleep. If there are lots of toys to grab their attention, they may decide it would be more fun to be awake.
- Play soft music. Many babies will sleep longer if soft lullabies or classical music is played. Incidentally, this can also be rather soothing for tired parents when babies do wake up.