Importance of Baby Sleep

    Baby Sleep

    Let’s consider the importance of baby sleep within the first year of his life.

    Baby’s physical and emotional states greatly depend on whether he sleeps as long as it is necessary at his age, and whether  he has a full-fledged sleep. If the baby has slept well, then he is merry, cheerful and full of glee; he gladly eats and plays with the adults. But if he is a poor and restless sleeper, he then becomes excitable, naughty, or languid on the contrary. In this case, you reduce not only wake time but sleep suffers as well: overexcited baby has difficulty falling asleep.

    This may lead to the adults’ wrong impression that the baby does not want to sleep at all and it is necessary to reduce his sleep time.

    How does your baby sleep?

    Watch your baby sleeping. His behavior, while sleeping, changes several times. Now he is motionless, his eyelids are tightly closed, his face is still, his breathing is deep and even. This is a stage of deep sleep that is rather important for physiological development: the central nervous system is slowed down, the whole body is relaxed. Baby’s rest is the most complete now, and his vitality is being restored particularly rapidly.  But in 10-15 minutes your baby starts restlessly move for no reason, groan, and even cry sometimes. Breathing becomes irregular and rapid, half-open eyes move. But the baby is still sleeping; it is just a phase of shallow sleep, phase of dreaming.

    Mostly all infants during their first year of life have these two types of sleep.  And the younger the infant, the clearer the difference is between them. Within the night deep and shallow sleep can change up to 8-10 times. Eventually, deep sleep will become longer – from 15-20 min. to 45 min.

    If parents know this peculiarity of their baby’s sleep, they will not mistake a shallow sleep for revival. Alas, many parents make this mistake. Thinking that the baby has woken up, they “take measures” – take him in their arms, rock and give him a baby’s dummy.  And right now the baby has really woken up. If parents do so one or two times, the baby will get used to these actions and will not be able to fall asleep without them, and will often cry. That is why there is no need to jump to conclusions and bother the sleeping baby.

    Does a baby need help falling asleep?

    Sleeping Babies

    Sleep is a natural necessity of an infant. And as a rule he is able to fall asleep without any extra help. So instead of rocking, tapping and performing other calming actions, it is better to create all necessary and natural conditions for the baby to fall asleep and sleep well.

    Try to put the baby to sleep in a certain time. Having got used to that, he will not only fall asleep faster but also will sleep more deeply. Of course, you don’t need to be extremely pedantic. It will be wrong to put baby to sleep right on time, and not to consider his mood, how he spent the day and how long he has been sleeping before.

    Do not excite your baby before sleep! Here is a usual situation. The whole family has got together at home after in the evening. Mom, Dad, and Granny want to play with the baby and hear his laugh; the baby is clapping his hands, laughing excitedly when being thrown up in the air… The sleep time comes – and he cannot fall asleep. But when you create calm surroundings, talk to your baby calmly and affectionately, you adjust his nervous system to rest. This is the common condition as for newborn babies so for one year old ones. But of course, you will have to consider the baby’s behavior traits that will be accumulating month by month.

    For example, everything around a 4 month old baby may detract him from sleep. So you should curtain the baby’s bed with a bed sheet or any cloth. But your baby will possibly pull it off and will be spying on you.  Do not turn it into game. Or do not pay attention to his trick at all. Or correct the cloth calmly restraining yourself from showing joyful admiration for your little one’s agility and gumption.

    An 8 month old baby can do lots of things. He likes the new moves he has already learnt or is still learning. He can already sit in the crib, stand up, and try to walk in it. Also he starts understanding your words, so tell him that he is not allowed to sit and stand up, that he must lie and sleep. Sometimes a baby falls asleep better when left alone – he will mess around a little and fall asleep then. (Watching your baby’s behavior, you will choose what is better for your little one).

    Baby at about one year old can be encouraged to get ready for bed. He can raise hands when asked – and you take off his shirt, he can take off his tights with your help, he finds pajamas and gives them to you. With your help he gets into the crib.

    Protect your baby’s sleep.

    Sleeping Baby pic, photo

    It should be quiet in the room, electric light or the direct sunlight should not fall on the baby’s face. Parents are mistaken thinking that it is appropriate to accustom baby to sleep in bright light, that he is indifferent to noise, and the TV set or radio can be left switched on. Even when the baby will not be woken up by auditory and visual stimuli, the brain nevertheless perceives them and the relaxation becomes incomplete.

    On the other hand, absolute silence is unnecessary.  Life in such “sterile” conditions will not last forever. Baby may plunge into a difficulty when any noise and dim light will trouble his sleep.

    Restful and deep sleep is promoted by the right conditions.

    The crib should be comfortable with plain and elastic surface; pillow should be of medium size.  Down and feather mattresses, pillows, blankets overheat the baby, and prevent him from sleeping in a comfortable, free position. For the latter reason, stroller is not suitable for sleeping – baby should sleep only in his crib.

    Put the crib as far as possible from the heating devices and not in a draft. Fresh air must be free to reach it – that is why screens, fences and curtains are unwanted. It is great when fresh air enters the room all the time while the baby is sleeping. If it is impossible for some reason – ventilate the room thoroughly before sleep.

    In the daytime if the weather is warm lay your baby to sleep outside in partial shadow.

    What to do when the baby is crying falling asleep and while sleeping?

    In most cases you should react immediately – this crying can be a sign of some distress (the baby is getting ill, his position is uncomfortable, there are gases in the tummy). If you are absolutely sure that your baby is healthy, he has eaten well and he is lying in the crib in a right position, try then to wait a little – the baby is likely to calm down on his own. Excitable babies often cry a little before sleep and during the shallow sleep, especially within the first three or even more months of life. But if the baby won’t stop crying and is crying “seriously”, try then to calm him down – talk to him affectionately, turn him on a side, or even take him in your arms.

    Is it necessary to wake the baby for feedings?

    During the first month of baby’s life, when there is no clear distinction between wake and sleep, it is necessary to waken the baby all the time. But even then watch your baby sleeping – you risk interrupting deep sleep. Awakened baby is capricious, and when he starts sucking, he falls asleep again and does not get enough food; mother tries to wake him again and feeding is being prolonged for a long time. But if sleep was shallow, and while you are changing diapers, the baby wakes completely, eats actively, he is in good mood.

    And what to do if sleeping and waking time is established, but the baby oversleeps feeding all the time? This happens to some babies younger than 6 months old, who are sleeping in the daytime deeply for 2.5 hours long. If consider that they are awake for 1.5 hours a day, the gap in feeding is at least 4 hours. It means that their individual needs in sleep and wake should be taken into account, and amount of feedings and gaps between them should be changed. But the total feeding volume must be the same.

    Why are some babies bad-sleepers?

    Baby Sleeping pic, photo

    One of the common reasons is that they are not active enough while being awake. Baby is likely to have lack of impressions, he is mostly still and passive, and therefore his need for rest is relatively little.

    Nervous system of some babies is particularly sensitive, and they respond to weak stimuli. Such babies are restless sleepers in conditions favorable for other babies.

    Babies with so called birth trauma are restless sleepers, esp. within the first months of life. Parents should refer to the pediatrician in this case. As a rule such babies become calmer by three months old.

    Possibly a baby was very restless and used to fall asleep only in mother’s arms, and now he does not want to sleep in the crib. In this case you will have to be extremely patient and self-controlled for the baby to be accustomed to fall asleep in his crib. The earlier adults will start correcting this omission, the easier they will achieve success.

    There can be other reasons for difficulty in falling asleep and restless sleep – you will discover them watching your baby all the time. Nevertheless you should protect your baby’s sleep in any way, and prevent from sleeping in day time less then he should sleep at his age. If the baby did not fall asleep at the established time, do not give up, and in a few days your baby will enter sleep mode.

    But if adults will dance to baby’s tune and will stop putting him to sleep, he will get out of the habit to sleep at a proper time. Poor sleep will cause irritability, fatigue, and the whole daily sleep will be disrupted.


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