Infant sleep and healthy habits

Having a newborn baby comes with unorganised sleep patterns for the baby, disrupted sleep for the parents, multiple naps, regular night feeds, and lots of cuddles and support for the baby to sleep. This is normal and to be expected.

As babies get older, around 3-6 months of age, their sleep begins to become more organised. Night time sleep is the first to organise, this is when babies learn the difference between night and day. Following the organisation of night time sleep comes nap organisation, the morning nap organises first, followed by the afternoon naps. At around 3 months of age melatonin production begins in infants, melatonin is the sleep hormone. It is at this time that a baby’s natural circadian rhythm begins to take over. Circadian rhythms regulate when we are supposed to be awake and when we are supposed to be asleep, our biological clocks drive our circadian rhythms. Going to sleep at the right time is critical, it is important to sleep in connection with our circadian rhythms to get the most benefits out of our sleep. When we sleep out of sync with our circadian rhythms or miss our appropriate sleep window our bodies start producing the stress hormone, cortisol. This is why it is so important to tune in to your baby’s age specific sleep requirements.

Why am I talking about how sleep works?

Like adults, children have sleep cycles and cycle in and out of light sleep throughout the night. Through promoting healthy sleep habits we can provide our children with the ability to return to sleep when moving from one sleep cycle to the next. Your baby may still require nutrition during the night but outside of night feeds we want them to be able to sleep and sleep well.

How to promote healthy sleep habits?

Here are a few of my tips on promoting healthy sleep habits:

1. Implementing a morning ritual from a young age can help support your baby in learning the difference from night and day and help with the organisation of their sleep.

2. Bedtime routines and night rituals are so important for triggering sleep time and preparing your baby for sleep. Implement a consistent and calming bedtime routine. Babies love routine and they love to know what to expect.

3. Be mindful of any sleep associations. Anything that we as parents have to physically do to put our baby’s to sleep is a sleep association. Sleep associations make it harder for your baby to nap and sleep well during the night. Anything that you do to put your baby to sleep at the beginning of the night they will look for in order to return to sleep throughout the night, particularly in the early hours of the morning when their sleep pressure is lower. There are many gentle ways of teaching your baby to sleep more independently, firstly though you want to ensure all of your foundations to sleep are in place.

There are many reasons why your child may not be sleeping well which is why I do an extensive review of your situation in order to provide you with specific advice. If you are out of the newborn days but you seem to still be in them with regards to sleeping, I can support you.

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