Babies spend more time in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is very light and inconsistent as their brain are still developing. As such, a baby’s sleeping cycle is relatively short during the night, which keeps a mother awake most of the time. Most moms spend the day performing household chores and may not find time to sleep.
With such a tedious schedule, mothers can get very irritable the next day; some even are unable to focus on taking care of their babies.
While the baby is likely to sleep for shorter spells during the day and long periods at night, once he turns eight weeks, it is important to maintain a healthy sleep hygiene that will help you get adequate rest. Here’s how to do it.
1. Adopt the appropriate sleeping position
It is important to learn to breastfeed while lying down. You can lie on the side using a cervical pillow for side sleepers and another to support your head. Placing a pillow between the knees helps you feel more comfortable. The baby should also lie on his side so that his nose is at the same level as your nipple. Then, bring the baby close to you so that the chin touches the breast while his head tips back. This way, you can breastfeed the baby while you catch sleep.
2. Ask for help during nighttime feedings
It makes the best way to get adequate sleep during the night. You may ask your husband or other family member to feed the baby during the night so you can get enough sleep. It requires moms to change to bottle feeding if she has been breastfeeding.
You can express breast milk early on so that your spouse helping you can quickly put your baby to sleep when he wakes up. Be sure to add an extra bottle of breast milk as it adds to the number of hours you can rest. As such, if your baby falls asleep on only one breast, you can pump the other so that your spouse can feed him in the morning as you sleep a little more.
3. Sleep when your child sleeps
Of course, there are household chores that will keep you busy, but it is important to take advantage of those short periods of sleep every time your baby sleeps.
Nursing mothers fall into deep sleep fast due to the growth hormone-prolactin, which increases during lactation. As such, even twenty minutes of sleep, re-energizes your body. Babies fall asleep after every two hours of staying awake for the first 6-8 weeks, hence the need to look out for sleeping signs:
* Rubbing of the eyes.
* Crying and whining.
* Dark circles under the eyes.
* Yawning and stretching.
* Becoming quiet.
* Flipping his ear using his hand.
* Losing interest in people.
Some babies may also turn away from people or moving objects. If you observe these signs, you should put him down in his crib. Your baby may show other signs, which the parent learns with time.
4. Let the baby fall asleep independently
As much as babies need to breastfeed to fall asleep, it is important to let him fall asleep independently. It goes a long way to helping a child fall asleep fast without waking up in the middle of the night. Additionally, you don’t have to spend lots of time during the day nursing him; if he is well-fed, he will fall asleep on his own. Starting the process early also saves the parents from nursing him when he is older, and you can find time to sleep.
It does not mean he will fall to sleep at will; you only need to put him down when he is sleepy but awake. If you prefer rocking him in a chair until he falls asleep, be prepared to do the same even when he wakes up during the night.
5. Performing sleep-inducing activities
While most mothers are incredibly tired at the end of the day, they may still find it difficult to fall asleep during the night. It can be tempting to unwind by watching a movie or enlisting the next day’s to-do-list. Such habits are counterproductive as they only stimulate the mind to remain awake.
Bedtime snacks like a few cookies, a small muffin, or a small bowl of cereal and milk help stimulate the body’s sleep hormone.
6. Keep the baby close
Keeping the baby close to you during the night allows easy night-feeding as you don’t need to walk to his crib to nurse him. It may require you to share the bed with him. Be sure to use a firm mattress with light bed sheets and covers. Also, make sure you are not using drugs that would make you less aware of the surroundings. Breastfeeding mothers who share beds with their babies get adequate sleep and are more likely to continue breastfeeding.
Getting adequate rest makes an important part of developing healthy sleep hygiene. It allows your body to relax and also helps you take care of your baby and family.
Written by: Alex Moore
Alex Moore is a freelance writer with more than 5 years of experience covering numerous topics, from technology to parenting. Father of two, Alex has always strived to inspire first-time parents. He is also passionate about sleep studies.