Contrary to popular belief, sleep deprivation is not something new parents need to endure in the long term! I want to challenge the seemingly accepted norm that as a new parent your right to sleep will be denied because a baby is unable to sleep for months if not years on end.
Through my extensive research and years of experience I have come to understand that babies can and will, easily sleep through the night by around eight to twelve weeks of age. This is achieved, not by sleep training but simply by meeting the baby’s natural feeding and sleeping requirements as detailed in the first section of my book, The Sensational Sleep Plan.
If only there were greater awareness of this reality, then the need for health professionals to advise parents on how to cope with sleep deprivation [as the Tiny Dreams project is petitioning for] could be significantly reduced.
I find the current ethos so very sad……. sleep deprivation is proven to have a damaging and negative impact on one’s holistic health – let’s not forget it is an internationally recognised form of torture!
It is also known to have far reaching and detrimental effects on long term health being linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other stress related disorders.
I’m even more sad for the babies though, who are actually designed to sleep and need this restorative process to grow, develop and thrive.
My tips to help your new baby sleep
Differentiate between night and day
When in the womb a baby’s body clock is already attuning itself to a night and day split. However, as the baby is soothed to sleep by the mothers’ movement during the day it naturally adopts a nocturnal sleep pattern. This then needs to be turned around in the first couple of weeks after birth.
Follow a flexible but structured feeding pattern
This is usually based on 3-hourly feeds in the early weeks. When a baby’s stomach is full it will take 2 to 3 hours to digest and empty before needing to feed again.
Establish a bedtime routine within the early weeks
Whatever your bedtime routine consists of do try to keep to the same sequence and where possible include a bath most evenings. Bath time itself will become the focal point and signal for your baby that bedtime is approaching, and as the weeks go by this will become the accepted routine for years to come.
Ensure your baby understands the difference between night-time feeds and those he has during the day
You can do this by using low level lighting, keeping the room quiet and calm and using little interaction the baby will quickly come to realise that night time is for sleeping. Embracing a natural awareness, this also prompts his body clock to readjust and align into the day/night split of eating during the day and not throughout the hours of night-time.”
Never wake a sleeping baby at night, unless there is a medical reason to do so!
This means no dream feed! Many parents follow other advice and wake their baby at 11pm, thinking they will then get a less disturbed night – but it seldom happens this way. Instead, the baby will quickly fall into the habit of waking for the expected feed at 11pm and may continue to do so for a number of months, even years to come. Also, by waking your baby you are giving him food that his body does not require and stimulating his digestive system when it actually needs to be at rest. This can also result in the baby waking in the early hours for even more night feeds!
Encourage positive daytime sleep
Many parents have been amazed at how much sleep their baby needs and are often misled into thinking that if the baby has less during the day he will sleep better at night. This is simply not the case – actually the opposite will occur, resulting in an overtired baby unable to feed, settle or sleep properly at all. Sleep breeds sleep!
- You can find further information, help and support through www.alisonscott-wright.com and in my book The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan.