The importance of adequate sleep is severely underestimated, until it becomes an issue. Mother and baby need plenty of rest and one of the best ways to keep everyone happy is to ensure that you establish good sleeping habits for your baby.
Even before your little darling is born, you’ll be bombarded with advice from other moms, well-meaning relatives and even people who happen to notice your ‘bump’. Best strategy is to politely listen and adapt whichever methods you think will work for you. If in doubt, ask a health professional.
The word mostly commonly used with new bubs is ‘routine’ and it truly is the most valuable piece of information you’ll receive. Babies thrive on routine and although you don’t want them to be upset when you need to step outside of it, it does help to set up patterns so your baby can learn what they can expect of their day and night.
Try to put your baby to sleep at set times during the day. No need to set an alarm clock but co-ordinate with such activities as after a feed or after Daddy leaves for work. New babies will often sleep after every feed until they’re a month or so old, and as they develop and grow, their need for stimulation will grow too and they may actually ‘drop’ a nap.
Some babies notoriously confuse day with night. When the house should be quiet and restful, they’re up looking to play, and when everyone else is making a hullabaloo, they’re yawning and crying to go to bed. It’s up to you to set the scene for slumber at appropriate times. During the night, the room should be dark, a comfortable temperature and quiet. During the day, it’s ideal if your child can sleep while you’re going about housework, talking on the phone or cooking. What’s important is the mood you create. Also, ending the day with a few extra cuddles and some whispered words before putting baby in the crib can remind her that she’s loved and treasured, and can happily go off to sleep for longer than usual. Nighttime may also be when you choose to give your baby a talc massage or sing lullabies.
It’s never advisable to put a baby to bed with a bottle or with a pacifier loaded with sweet treats. The pacifier, unembellished is good enough and won’t lead to tooth decay when the child is older. Feeding baby out of the crib means you’ll be able to monitor her consumption, enjoy the closeness and she’ll know that bed means sleep, not a place to graze and continue feeding as long as she wants to.
Comfort and Safety
Your baby’s too little to understand decor and all she’ll be aware of is her own comfort. Ensure that the room she sleeps in is well ventilated and kept at an appropriate temperature and her bedding is clean, safe and changed regularly. Toys in the crib may wake her if they make noise when she happens to kick them, and are unsafe anyway. Tiny babies also do not need pillows.
One last tip: Don’t expect your baby to behave like everyone else’s, for better or worse. She’s an individual and between the two of you, you’ll establish what works best for your whole family.