How Long Should 3 Week Old Be Awake Between Naps The ABC’s of Sensible Sleep Training

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The ABC’s of Sensible Sleep Training

Exhausted, sad and sleepy is no way to go through life… for you or your baby. The link between quality sleep and a happy, healthy lifestyle is well documented and undeniable, but once a newborn arrives, your days of sleeping soundly in the comfort of your own bed are probably numbered for a while.

The average new parent loses around 350 hours of sleep during baby’s first year, with 64% getting a good night’s sleep on just one or two nights a week. This is mainly because while the newest member of the household sleeps between 13 and 16 hours a day, he or she does so unpredictably, for only a few hours at a time.

The good news? Within three to five months, most babies will have developed regular sleep habits that include napping through the night. But laying the groundwork for these habits to emerge takes some training.

Some sleep training tips to create healthy nighttime patterns right from the start:

1. Send a message. Babies are masters at picking up non-verbal cues. The sooner you convey the idea that “days are for fun, nights are for sleep,” the sooner your child’s circadian rhythms will fall into place.

Keep your baby active during the day and maintain structured naps between feedings. The success you have during the day will directly affect your nights. In the evening, tone things down with soothing routines that prepare your baby’s mind to rest – reading or singing softly in a semi-dark room. Avoid stimulating lights and noises or activities such as tickling and watching TV. Add a favorite blanket or soft toy to the sequence; its appearance will soon serve as a gentle hint that it is time to sleep.

2. Stay cool. Keep the room between 65 to 70 degrees. A good rule of thumb to keep your baby at the right temperature is to dress your baby in one more layer than you are wearing. This will prevent your little one from overheating. Room darkening shades and dimmers on the lights will also help set the right mood.

3. Declare independence. Get used to putting him down awake, without holding, patting or shaking him. This will not only condition him to fall asleep on his own, it will also teach him to fall back asleep without your help when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Remember to maintain a calm, relaxed approach with your baby. Babies know when we’re stressed, and they won’t be able to calm themselves if they sense our agitation.

4. Let sleeping little children lie down. Once your pediatrician has given you permission to let your baby feed as needed during the night, then you can go “on demand.” “On demand feeding” allows your baby to sleep until they wake up on their own for a feed. Except when absolutely necessary, it is never, ever a good idea to wake a sleeping baby during the night. Resist the urge to wake him up to meet unexpected company or a late-night Skype chat with the grandparents.

5. Be realistic. Finally, as with feeding, you cannot force your baby to sleep. However, you can adjust your sleep expectations to teach sleep hygiene skills. Expect him (and, of course, you) to sleep randomly and erratically during the early months. Get through those sleep-challenged nights by reminding yourself that things will get better, probably sooner than you think. Before long, the challenge will be getting your child out of bed to get to school on time.

Based in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, ABC Moms provides parents with a wide range of family care services, from autism and special needs support to in-home coaching, educational lectures, workshops and more.

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