Deirdre Budd’s Blog

Archive for April 2009

Many new mums report problems getting baby to sleep or settle. Prolonged crying is difficult to cope with when you haven’t even got to know your baby.  Babies are used to “living and breathing” inside you and there is a lot more stimulation in this new world outside mum. Babies cry because they suffer simple discomforts, like a clothes label irritating them, a loose thread wound round a toe or finger, or a feeling of abandonment. Babies have to learn that even when you go away you will return. The game of Peek a boo reinforces this lesson, but it takes a while.

Many parents put baby on a shoulder and pat baby’s back. This is fine and can be reassuring to baby but how fast do you pat?  An ideal rate is a slow, 60 pats a minute. This is closer to a resting heart rate and will not overstimulate baby. Fast patting makes baby think that staying awake is important. Slow things down when you want baby to settle. The same is true of rocking, take it slowly, it is more comforting and more reassuring. If you were a passenger in a car, you might fall asleep if the road was smooth but being driven over a bumpy surface is unlikely to soothe you.

Learn your baby’s subtle sleepy signs and put baby down awake, but drowsy. If it is daytime, let baby nap in daylight with  normal background noise. Background noise reduces the shock of sudden loud noise and can be reassuring.  At night sleep should be in a darkened room with minimal noise.  Night feeds should be given with minimal interaction. From an early age you can help baby learn that night is different from daytime. It takes many repetitions for baby to learn this but usually by about 3-4 months of age baby has developed a routine with daytime naps and a short wake for a feed at night.

By six months babies no longer physically require night feeds. If you have started teaching baby to self soothe earlier then you will find it is not difficult to get baby to sleep through the night without requiring your presence.

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