Having a good night's sleep is crucial for babies; it's when important brain development occurs, and they process everything they have smelt, seen, touched - learnt during the day. In fact, the brain will reach 75% of its adult size by the time your baby turns 1, so the first year of sleep is truly the most crucial during our lifetime. Despite this, there remains confusion about why sleep is so important for babies, and of course, confusion about the best way to get a baby to sleep through the night.
I've spent over 25 years working with babies and their parents, grandparents, and carers, to help them gently get into the right sleeping patterns and achieve the best night's sleep possible - for everyone involved. I know that baby sleep is an issue because I have been working with families for a very long time, and there is nothing better than when you can make a difference to a family's lives by helping their little one to sleep better. I'm also a member of the Pampers Love, Sleep and Play Panel.
Night time sleep is when REM sleep tends to occur for babies, which is really when the building blocks of their brain structure are laid down. But, REM sleep tends to happen towards the end of the night and, unfortunately, this is also when the most movement takes place. As a result of this it's important to remove and reduce any factors which may disrupt this important sleep period. One of these variables that parents often don't consider is the nappy - which has a lot to deal with! For example, there is far more liquid to cope with overnight than during the day, as a baby will pee approximately 3-4 times during the night. As the night goes on the nappy poses an increased risk of disturbing the baby through wetness and bulk, which makes them generally uncomfortable. One solution, developed by Pampers, is the new generation of Pampers Baby- Dry - which feature an innovation that's been in development for over a decade: 3 Absorbing Channels. These channels are designed to help spread wetness evenly through the nappy, almost like quilted duvet, meaning that there's less wet bulk to disrupt sleep. They also feature MicroPearlsTM, which absorb 30 times their weight in wetness, locking it away for up to 12 hours.
Research has proven that babies who sleep well are more alert, function better socially and wake up in the morning in a better mood. So, anything we can do to support your little one's unbroken sleep is going to be beneficial. On the following pages I identify baby sleep typologies and provide some hints & tips to help aid a good night's sleep for each type. Though there's no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some commonalities - below are five of the most common sleep types that you might be able to identify in your little one:
This is when your baby sleeps in the same position, on their back with legs and arms out. They also wake up often and regularly, but they don't go back to sleep easily after you intervene with a sleep prop - which they need to get to sleep!
Jo's Tip - A muslin square, knotted in the middle. Tuck it down your top before giving it to baby so it smells of you and comforts them. Also, try and teach your baby to fall asleep on their own gently. Start in the day, at nap times, watching for tired signs, then settle them for a sleep in their room.
These are the babies that wake up early in the morning, singing and shouting, and refuse to go back to sleep whatever you try!
Jo's Tip - Wave sounds. This can be a sleep App or sound machine. Keep it on continually while baby is asleep, so when they come into a light sleep phase it soothes them back to sleep. Total blackout is also key - remember that babies can't tell the time! They don't know it's 5am! If your baby wakes up early, try and respond to them as though it's still night, rather than creating a habit of early waking.
These little ones love sleep and can sleep anywhere and everywhere - lucky you! But what happens when they wake up? You will know it's going to be for a growth or developmental spurt or they are teething or not well.
Jo's Tip - Increase feeding time by 5 minutes, if breast feeding and by 30ml if bottle feeding. If your baby is close to 6 months old, they may need weaning.
This is when your baby goes to bed late and then wakes up in the night. They're wide awake for long periods and can't get back to sleep!
Jo's Tip - A Sleep Fest! Allow your baby to sleep for 3 hours during the day to reset their internal clock. Babies need lots of sleep and it's a myth that if you don't give them naps, they will be so tired that they'll sleep through the night.
They stand up, move around trying to get comfortable all night and they don't want to sleep. They're late to bed and early to rise.
Jo's Tip - Wind Down Time. Try bath-story-feed to establish a calming bedtime routine. Your baby is overtired and so they will thrash around trying to get comfortable just like we do. They will have lots of energy around bedtime and early in the morning, as their bodies and minds are overstimulated.
Images credit: Pampers UK
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