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Baby sleeping

Sleep: An Overview of Baby's First 18 Months

 Being a new parent is overwhelming; trust us, we know. Your questions are all over the place—which is why we’re here, along with our trusted experts, to help. One of your biggest questions as a new parent is your baby’s sleep patterns. What’s normal? What’s not? When should I be concerned? So we spoke with Arielle Driscoll of Sleep Consulting, LLC, to get some info on the factors are affecting your baby’s sleep for the first 18 months of her life, and what you can do about it.Arielle says, “It’s important to remember that sleep does not exist in isolation from everything else happening developmentally with your child.” Physical and cognitive growth can disrupt sleep, as can illness, mastery of physical milestones, and nap transition periods, among other things.So let’s start off on the things affecting your child’s sleep, and what you can do about them.1. Feeding ScheduleEarly on, your baby’s sleep schedule will be affected by their feeding schedule. It’s not that your infant is necessarily hungrier at night; it’s that infants’ small stomachs can’t handle much food at each feeding, so they need to feed often, which is why they tend to wake frequently to get the calories they need.Once your baby passes the 4-month mark, you can start to tweak their feeding schedule. Stick with the same number of feeds, including night feeds, but try to offer more calories during the day to prevent the need to eat more in the night.2. Growth Spurts You can expect growth spurts at approximately the following stages during your baby’s first year: 7-10 days2-3 weeks4-6 weeks3 months4 months 6 months 9 months 12 months Each baby is different, so these are approximate timeframes. But when it comes to sleep disruption, physical growth spurts tend to affect sleep only during your baby’s first 4 months. (In general, growth spurts don’t tend to disrupt sleep in older infants or toddlers; in fact, toddlers typically sleep more during growth spurts.)So your baby waking during his or her first 4 months at these stages is normal. And the general rule of thumb for a baby over the age of 4 months is to stay consistent with her schedule through the growth spurts—you shouldn’t see any disruption due to growth spurts alone. 3. Cognitive Development (“Leaps”)There are 10 “leaps” in your baby’s cognitive development during his or her first 2 years. (The Wonder Weeks is a useful tool to help follow these.)Some babies are extremely sensitive to leaps, while others are not. Typical signs of leaps include disrupted sleep, eating more or less, crying and fussing more, and acting clingy. Some will show signs with each leap; others may only show signs during a few. For babies who do experience these symptoms, the good news is that these signs typically only affect him during the first part of the leap. Here is when you can expect these cognitive leaps (and remember, these are all approximate and will vary from baby to baby):4.5-5.5 weeks Leap 1: Changing Sensations 7.5-9.5 weeks Leap 2: Patterns 11.5-12.5 weeks Leap 3: Smooth Transitions 14.5-19.5 weeks Leap 4: Events 22.5-26.5 weeks Leap 5: Relationships 33.5-37.5 weeks Leap 6: Categories 41.5-46.5 weeks Leap 7: Sequences 50.5-54.5 weeks Leap 8: Programs 59.5-64.5 weeks Leap 9: Principles 70.5-76.5 weeks Leap 10: Systems In our experience, Leaps 5,8,9, and 10 are the hardest on sleep. Your best plan of action is to stay consistent with your child’s sleep schedule and power through.4. Physical MilestonesFirst thing’s first: you need to remember that each baby reaches her physical milestones when she’s ready Don’t compare your baby to others (we know, it’s hard!) and don’t worry unless your doctor is concerned. In general, the biggest physical milestone that affects sleep is crawling. (You can read more about the science behind this here.) Walking can also affect your baby’s sleep. Your child may have refuse naps or take only short naps, have early wakeups, or even some middle-of-the-night wakings. This is all normal. Again, it is best to stay the course with your child’s sleep schedule. If by this age you’ve used a formal method of sleep training, use whatever method you used originally to power through this time period.5. Night WeaningIt’s always best to consult your pediatrician about night feeding. As is true for everything else baby-related, each child’s individual situation has its own considerations. Many babies can sleep through the night without a night feeding by 6 months, while some babies may require a night feed through 9 months or longer. If your baby is over 4 months, here are some signs that he might be ready to night wean:You can address night weaning by using a formal sleep training method, or by dropping the number of ounces in her bottle by one ounce every other night until there’s no longer a bottle. Alternatively, if you’re nursing, you would decrease the amount of time you’re nursing by one minute each night until you’re no longer night nursing.6. Nap TransitionsYou may experience some sleep disruptions around nap transition times. This is normal. Your baby’s sleep needs change as she gets older, and adjusting to one fewer nap per day can be tricky. Here is when you can expect nap transitions in your child’s first 2 years. Again, these are approximate:4-5 months 4 naps to 3 naps5-8 months 3 naps to 2 naps24 months* 2 naps to 1 nap*The average age for the 2-to-1 nap transition is 15 months. Some parents may mistake leaps or physical milestone sleep disruption for the need to transition to one nap. We do not recommend rushing the 2-to-1 nap transition.Signs that it may be time to drop a nap include:Skipped naps or shortened naps for a week or moreThe best advice we can give during these nap transition times is to compensate with an earlier bedtime as your child transitions. Early bedtimes help prevent your baby from becoming overtired.

Baby sleeping

6 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Baby's Sleep Environment

 Once your newborn has their days and nights on track, it’s time to start implementing a proper sleep environment. Here are some tips on how to make this happen! Pro tip: if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s no need to do this all at once! One step at a time is just fine. Overall, we suggest these things be in place by the time your baby is 3 months old.1. Use the Same Bed for Nighttime and NaptimeIt’s best to have your baby sleep in the same place both at night and for naptime. This can be a bassinet, crib, or pack ’n play. This helps give your child her cues that it’s time to sleep; remember, babies need routine. 2. Use a Flat, Stationary Bed Your baby will have better, more restorative sleep on a flat, stationary surface. This is in line with recommendations set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Swing, stroller, and car seat sleeping result in poorer quality sleep, as movement and vibrations can force the brain into a lighter sleep state. Additionally, the AAP recommends that sleeping on a flat, stationary bed is safest for infants. 3. Keep Your Baby’s Bed Free of Any Toys or BlanketsThe AAP recommends that a baby under the age of 12 months have a sleep area free of any toys, bumpers, or loose blankets—both to prevent distraction, and to keep your little one safe.4. At Nighttime, Make Your Baby’s Room As Dark as PossibleBabies tend to hone in on any type light, which can keep them awake longer or awaken them between sleep cycles. Additionally, circadian rhythms can be disrupted by any small amount of light during sleep time. There should be no glowing lights in your baby’s room, or even outside light peeking through windows or doors, if possible. This includes baby products with LED or any sort of light that indicates the product is “on” (diaper warmers, baby monitors, cool mist humidifiers). Black out these little lights in your baby’s room with black electrical tape or masking tape. 5. Make Your Baby’s Room QuietWe know that total silence is near impossible for most people, so we recommend using a noise machine for your baby’s room. White noise will help eliminate outside noises, and can also serve as a cue to your baby that it’s time to sleep. And be sure to use the white noise setting—not the other options like waves, crickets, rain, etc. These other noises can keep part of the brain awake and therefore result in poorer quality sleep. Note: Soft lullaby music is okay to use during a bedtime routine but for restful, restorative sleep, white noise is best.Pro tip: I highly recommend Marpac Dohm (as does the National Sleep Foundation). 6. Make Your Baby’s Room CoolChildren, like adults, sleep better in cooler temperatures. Your baby’s room temperature should be anywhere from 68 to 72 degrees while sleeping. But won’t my baby be cold? you may ask. After all, following AAP safe sleep guidelines, you’ll have no loose blankets in the crib. That’s what sleep sacks are for. They’re a great way to keep your child warm once the swaddle is gone.

Baby sleeping

5 Newborn Sleep Myths, Dispelled

 You don’t need us to tell you that there’s a lot of information out there when it comes to motherhood—especially when it comes to brand new moms. That’s why we created Tinyhood, and why we continue to bring you advice from our board of experts on all things motherhood, babies, and toddlers. Here are some pesky pieces of misinformation—and why they're wrong—about your little one's sleep schedule!1. It’s ok to let your baby sleep on her side or belly.A resounding no! In order to ensure your baby’s sleep environment is safe, it’s important you always put your baby on her back to sleep. 2. Adding rice cereal to your baby’s bottle before bedtime will help him sleep for longer stretches at night.Another no! A newborn’s gut is not developed enough to process solids of any sort. Adding rice cereal to a baby’s bottle is only recommended when needed for severe reflux—and this should always be done under the care of a physician. Furthermore, studies have shown that adding rice cereal does not lead to longer stretches of sleep.3. Giving a breastfed baby formula at bedtime will help her sleep for longer stretches at night.Also a no! Sure, there are some babies for whom this may work; however, there is no scientific evidence that formula will help your breastfed baby sleep any longer than normal.4. You can control your newborn’s sleep schedule.Nope! A newborn does not have developed circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are what allow our sleep to be organized and predictable. Some babies may fall into what appears to be a fairly set schedule early on, but for the most part, sleep organization does not occur until closer to 12 weeks.5. Putting your baby to bed later at night will help him sleep later in the morning.Another nope! In fact, babies are biologically predisposed to go to bed for the night sometime between 6 and 8 PM. When a baby is kept awake longer than he should be, his body is filled with cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These stress hormones make it difficult for babies to fall asleep and stay asleep, and often lead to early morning wake-ups—the opposite of what you were hoping for.

Baby sleeping

3 Reasons Your Baby May be Experiencing Sleep Disruptions

 Has your baby or toddler suddenly begun waking frequently in the night—as frequently as every 30-45 minutes?This phenomenon can be baffling to parents who are used to their children sleeping more soundly at night, and we certainly understand the concern. Here are some reasons why it may be happening.1.  Ear infections - You may be surprised to learn that ear infections are one of the top reasons for sudden, frequent night wakings. “But she’s not pulling her ears,” you might say, or “he doesn’t have a fever.” It also may be that your baby is sleeping fine during naptime, and it’s only at night that she has trouble.  All of this doesn’t mean an ear infection isn’t the culprit: nighttime sleep disruption is often the only symptom a child with an ear infection may experience. So if this is happening to your child, go get his ears checked.2.  Acid Reflux, or GERD - If your baby is waking frequently throughout the night, he could have GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD causes an upward movement of stomach content, including acid, into the esophagus and sometimes mouth that can sometimes, but not always, result in vomiting. If you suspect your baby may be suffering from GERD, it’s best to speak with her pediatrician to discuss ways to manage your baby’s symptoms. 3. Other illnesses - When a baby or toddler who normally sleeps soundly is waking frequent at night, it’s typically a sign that something’s not right internally. Even if he has no other symptoms, it would be beneficial to both of you to get him checked out by a pediatrician. Then when you know the cause, and follow your doctor’s recommendations to help your baby get the healing rest he needs while ill. And don’t worry about your child’s sleep schedule while they’re sick. You can get back on track with sleep once he’s feeling well again! 

Baby sleeping

How to Correct Your Newborn's Day/Night Confusion

 What is Day/Night Confusion?It just means that your little one is likely to have his or her days and nights mixed up. During your pregnancy, your daily activities and constant movement “rocked” your baby to sleep on many occasions through the day. And at night, as you lay sleeping, your stillness could cause your baby to wake up. Hello 3 AM belly party! Day/Night Confusion can last for anywhere between 1 to 8 weeks. Here are some tips to rectify this confusion sooner rather than later, so you can both get that much-needed rest.During the Day:Interact with your baby when she’s awake with lots of talking.Allow your baby to nap with the lights on.Keep day noises (such as TV, talking on the phone, siblings playing, etc.) at a normal volume—if your baby can tolerate it. If she startles easily with sound, it’s ok to turn the volume down on the TV or talk softly.Get your baby used to natural light. Open the blinds and curtains, and go for walks outside if the weather permits.Your baby will have wakeful periods of 30, 60, or 90 minutes. Your newborn should never be awake longer than 90 minutes and likely in the first few weeks, 30-60 minutes will be the most he can tolerate. Start trying to recognize your little one’s sleepy cues and ensure she’s in a good place to get that much-needed sleep when she needs it.At Night:Develop a pre-bedtime routine. For example: give him a bath, put on some lotion, get his PJs on, do your nighttime feeding, sing a song, and then put him down for bed. Babies thrive on routine! And while a 2-week-old may not pick up on these cues just yet, it won’t be long before he realizes these repetitive actions mean it’s time to go to sleep for the night. And the routine doesn’t have to be long if that’s not what you prefer. It just has to be repetitive: night after night.Limit your use of lights at night. During your nighttime routine and pre-bedtime feedings, use very dim lighting, such as a bathroom or closet light.Be “boring” during nighttime feedings. As tempting as it may be to exchange smiles and talk to your little one at this time, it’s best to be more business-like with little social interaction during this last feeding of the day.Ensure no noises disrupt your baby’s sleep. Many parents use white noise machines to help eliminate outside noise.Swaddle your baby.After two weeks, if your baby has regained his birth weight and is on track for gaining half a pound per week, there’s no need to wake baby for nighttime feedings. Allow your baby to wake on his own. Also, here’s a pro tip: babies are noisy sleepers, so be sure yours is truly awake and not just moving or making sounds in his sleep. Wait for a mad, hungry cry (otherwise known as a hangry cry) before you go to him.