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August 07, 2020 4 min read
The life of a newborn baby is exciting enough, which is why routines are important! A daily routine with age-appropriate waking times, sleeping phases, activities, and meals will give your baby security and a feeling of wellbeing. Children who enjoy routines and consistent sleeping times sleep better. To get in the mood, it is helpful to arrange the time before going to bed calmly, with little irritation and with a recurring sleep ritual, such as bathing, singing, or reading aloud.
A baby has first to learn what day and night mean. You can help them by letting them sleep in bright rooms with normal noise during the day, and at night in their bed in a dark, quiet environment. All nocturnal activities should be low-irritant: feed your baby in dim light, speak little, and only change diapers when absolutely necessary. All this should make it easier for the baby to develop a day and night rhythm and experience longer periods of sleep at night.
In the first weeks of life, babies often fall asleep while being fed, which is completely normal. However, from about three months of age, you should slowly try to separate bedtime from feeding. Breast or bottle should not be a signal for sleep. Otherwise, the baby tends to demand food when waking up between sleep phases, because they have learned to go to sleep only while eating.
Many children wake up several times during the night. Therefore, it is the parents' task to provide their children with a strategy for dealing with waking up at night. What parents do regularly, the children learn and expect. You should not nurse or feed an older baby back to sleep, but get them used to fall asleep where they woke up. Because children check the situation during different sleep phases and want to wake up the same way they fell asleep. This can be done on your arm - by holding the baby, moving gently, and singing softly, the baby can relax and be put into bed when they are about to fall asleep. With less and less parental support, the baby then gradually learns to fall asleep alone.
If possible, the baby should not be taken out of bed when they wake up. Calming words and using a "sleep language" that is already practiced during the day can help them calm down again at night and find their way back to sleep.
If the child has already become accustomed to a "sleeping companion", such as a cozy blanket, stuffed animal or pacifier during the day - outside the bed - in comforting and calming situations and can handle it independently, might also help them continue sleeping at night.
If a baby already sleeps a lot during the day, a large part of their required sleep has already been used up and the need for sleep is no longer as great at night. The baby wakes up either very early in the morning or in the middle of the night and is then too awake to fall back asleep again. Pay attention to the length of naps during the day, if the baby already has trouble sleeping through the night. Wake your baby gently if they sleep for hours during the day. In addition, a midday nap should not be too late, because then the child is understandably not really tired at bedtime. From the 4th month onwards, there should be at least two to three hours between the latest day's nap and the evening nap.
In theory, a six-month-old baby can manage without food during the night, if they consume enough calories during the day. The most important thing is that they drink plenty of fluids during the last meal before going to bed. Try to avoid falling asleep while being fed, because the first urge of falling asleep, which normally makes it easier to fall asleep, is gone for the time being and it becomes much more difficult to actually fall asleep.
Some parents have also had good experiences with waking their child for a late meal before they go to bed themselves. The so-called "Dreamfeed" can be connected for a few more hours of coherent sleep. Some children don't even need to be woken up for this but can drink in their sleep.
Small children sleep best in a familiar environment where they feel safe and secure. Therefore, a good solution is, if the baby can sleep in a bed in the master bedroom for the first few months. Especially with newborn babies, pucking can help them fall asleep and sleep through the night. Pucking is a special changing technique where the baby is wrapped tightly in a blanket. The tightness reminds them of the time in the womb and gives them support and security. It also prevents the baby from twitching so violently in the first few weeks that the Moro reflex (fright reflex) wakes them up.
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies and toddlers, it is in no way medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice to make choices related to your child's habits.
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