Two Typical Day And Night
Bringing home a new baby brings with it an exhausting array of new responsibilities and challenges. Is there such a thing as a typical day and night for new parents? Probably not! Remember, the baby has just gone through an enormous change too, so part of the process when you first bring him home is his transition from the womb to the outside world. Keep the baby close to you, keep him wrapped and warm. If you’re breastfeeding, this will take some time for both of you to adjust to as well.
If your new baby is formula-fed, he’ll need to feed every 3 to 5 hours. If you’re breastfeeding, he’ll need to feed more frequently. Sometimes you will feel that all you do all day and night is breastfeed. You will probably feel much more empathy with cows! And there will be a lot of diapers to change, especially until you get familiar with his schedule. His diaper will probably need to be changed shortly after feeding, about once an hour in the very beginning. Be sure to check frequently.
Until the umbilical cord has fallen off, you’ll want to keep sponge baths every few days, but you will want to wash the baby’s bottom every day. You can wipe the baby’s hands, face, neck, and bottom every day with a soft washcloth with warm water. When the baby’s ready for full baths, in a few weeks, every day is a good idea to prevent diaper rashes. But keep in mind that too much bathing can dry out his sensitive skin. To see what works for your baby.
That little finger and toenails will grow quickly, and they’ll need to be trimmed regularly so the baby doesn’t scratch himself. The baby’s nails can be long, even at birth and attached high on the nail bed. You’ll need to gently press the fingerpad away from the nail and clip it with a baby nail clipper. You might want to do this when the baby’s sleeping to ensure that he doesn’t jerk those little fingers and toes away!
Get used to being busy 24/7 during the first month, at least. You will be feeding and changing diapers around the clock so get as much help as you can so you can have some peace too.
A new baby needs a lot of sleep and when they’re not sleeping, they can be hungry or need a diaper change. It’s a little hard to know in the beginning what’s making your baby cry or if he’s tired. But as you both begin to settle into your routines, you’ll begin to notice the cues that your baby needs to nap. You want to make sure he gets in good naps during the day and at appropriate times so that you won’t have as much trouble getting him to sleep at night.
Even a very small baby will rub his eyes when he gets tired. He’ll yawn; perhaps he’ll get fussy. As children get a little older, their activity levels may pick up as they get tired and try to avoid sleep.
Try to keep to regular nap times during the day. If your baby is napping 3 times a day, then a mid-morning, early afternoon and the late-afternoon nap are appropriate for a baby with a 7:30 or 8 PM bedtime.
Often babies get tired towards dinner time, and then parents are faced with a dilemma. Do you let the baby sleep and risk not getting to sleep at bedtime? Or you do you try to keep him awake through dinner and perhaps put him to bed a little bit earlier?
Most parents will opt for trying to keep the baby awake a little longer in favor of keeping to a regular bedtime. But if it’s been a busy day for the little guy, let him have a very short nap and then wake him up gently for dinner or feeding and some light play before putting him to bed for the night.
Remember to make rituals for naps as well as bedtime so your baby gets used to sleeping at regular times.
A baby swing can be a good idea and leave your hands free. Set the swing at a slow and gentle rock; you don’t want this to be an exciting or stimulating experience. You want to make it relaxing so your baby can fall asleep.
A glider or rocker is restful for both of you. And good pillow support, like a Boppy(r) pillow is good for late-night breastfeeding. It’s a nice U-shaped pillow that provides good support for your baby, as well as for your back.
If you’re on a budget, some parents swear by putting their baby in a baby seat and putting it on top of a dryer. If you do this, be sure to put the dryer on air only – you don’t want to overheat him.
A motorized cradle or bassinette can also be soothing for a baby. As a last resort, you can always bundle the baby into his car seat and drive around the neighborhood until he falls asleep. Many experts don’t recommend artificial aids like this however, as it’s impossible to sustain it and you won’t get the baby used to sleep on his own.
There are also many ambient noise machines on the market that can also help mask household noises and provide a soothing environment for the baby (and for many adults). You can usually set them for a variety of noises, like rainfall, windchimes or ocean sounds. You can also leave the TV on quietly in another room so the baby doesn’t feel completely isolated in his room.
Remember your baby is used to a dark, quiet environment in the womb. She’s not used to the usual cues of nighttime sleeping. Nighttime, at first, is what she’s used to asleep or awake.
One method of getting your baby used to sleep at night, or in the dark, is to be sure she’s exposed to lots of sunlight during the day. When it’s time to nap or time to go to sleep at night, part of your ritual can be dimming the lights, simulating dusk and nighttime, even if it’s an afternoon nap. This way, she’ll get used to day and night cycles and learn that nighttime and darkness are for sleeping.
There are clocks called dawn simulators that will gradually dim into total darkness over a period of about half an hour. This can be a way to gradually dim the light in the baby’s room. You can start while you’re still rocking her to sleep. When you start putting her in her crib when she’s still awake, you can set the clock to start to dim when you leave the room, or leave partway through the cycle. This way you’re not just flipping out the light and leaving her alone in the dark.
You can do this for nap times too. The clocks will cycle on slowly in the morning as well; you want to be sure that you mute the actual alarm sound, though, so you don’t wake the baby up with a shock.
If you combine any of these devices with your usual routines, you’ll help teach your babies the cues for going to sleep at nap time and at night. These are gentle methods that many parents prefer to just let the baby cry it out.
Avoid Stimulating Your Baby During Night-time Feedings
As your newborn baby grows, it is slowly acclimating to sleeping at night and being awake during the day. Also, as the baby’s stomach is growing and holding more breast milk or formula, it will be able to go for longer periods between feedings at night. At approximately three months of age, your baby will likely sleep about 15 hours out of each 24-hour period, and two-thirds of that sleep will take place during the night. Most babies will have settled into a daily sleep routine of two or three sleep periods during the day, followed by ‘sleeping through the night” for 6 to 7 hours after a late-night feeding. You can help adjust your baby’s body clock toward sleeping at night by avoiding stimulation during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. The act of breastfeeding itself provides frequent eye and voice contact, so try to keep the lights low and resist the urge to play or talk with your baby. This will reinforce the message that nighttime is for sleeping. Keeping the door closed to keep out well-meaning but vocal older children, spouses, and the pet will also keep reduce stimulating your infant. Avoid the use of musical mobiles or toys as a way to lull your infant back to sleep after night-time feedings. This will also help to reinforce that nighttime is for sleeping. And, as with adults, overly tired infants often have more trouble sleeping than those who’ve had an appropriate amount of sleep during the day. So, keeping your baby up thinking that he or she will sleep better at night may not work. You may find that when your infant sleeps at regular intervals during the day, it will be easier to put them back down to sleep after night-time feedings.
Background Noise For Bedtime
A fussy or crying baby can make for a fussy and often frustrated parent. There are many reasons a baby could be fussy or unable to sleep, including illness, colic, or something as simple as either too much noise or too little noise. Before altering your baby’s sleeping environment, take a moment to evaluate just why your baby has been fussy or upset at bedtime. Things like changes in the weather, a neighbor’s new puppy continually barking, a loud car stereo blaring, or bright street light can all contribute to changing a baby’s otherwise familiar and comfortable sleeping environment. If after evaluating, you discover that there has been an environmental change that has occurred but is out of your control, you might consider creating some ‘white noise’ in your baby’s environment to help drown out these unpleasant and loud sleep disruptors.
Noises that are repetitive and almost monotonous sounding are known as ‘white noise’ – noise that is occurring constantly, and, as a result, we’ve ‘tuned it out.’ There are many items in our house that create white noise that we might not even realize – our air conditioners, vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, or fans all create white noise as they operate. Other things such as running water, an analog clock with a ticking second hand, or a fish aquarium also create white noise. These noises might actually help ‘drown out’ the disruptive external noises that are keeping your baby, and thereby you, from a good night’s sleep.
Another option might be to run a favorite lullaby on continuous play in your baby’s room. There are many options out there for newborns and toddlers alike in the music department of your favorite store. You could even put together a special mix just from mommy and daddy on your personal computer. Better yet, put together a recording of mommy and daddy’s soft, soothing and gentle voices, and baby will be back in dreamland before you know it – and so will you!
The No-Cry Sleep Solution For Babies And Their Parents
Parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley is president of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company. Elizabeth frequently speaks to parents in schools, hospitals, and parent groups, and her presentations are received with enthusiasm and praise. Her newest book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night offers a variety of sleep-inducing tips parents can use to develop an individual sleep program for their baby. Pantley’s methods are a gentler and more welcome option for those sleep-deprived parents who just can’t bear to let their child cry it out on their own, and find that approach too unfeeling or uncaring for their baby.
Probably the most important step to the overall success of developing a working solution is documenting the child’s sleeping and waking patterns each night on a ‘sleep chart.” This can be a difficult task for a sleep-deprived parent in the middle of the night, but is a crucial step and must be completed diligently. Pantley herself states her ‘solution” is certainly no overnight cure, or a one-size-fits-all method, but a gradual progression for educating your child to fall and stay asleep without constant intervention and assistance from the parent.
The successful program requires dedication and consistency from the parent. It could take a month or longer for your child to make the full transition to sleeping through the night, but one that will save a parent many sleepless nights in the long run. After the month is over, everyone who’s participated in the process will benefit from a more restful night, and the baby will learn how to sleep independently without the need for continual, repetitive comforting.
Consistent Naptimes Are Key To Quality Nighttime Sleep, Too
Research has shown that the quality and length of your baby’s naps affect his nighttime sleep. If he naps too late in the day, it will most certainly affect his nighttime sleeping. It’s important to tune into your baby’s biological clock and learn when his natural naptime is so his nighttime sleeping schedule is on the right track as well. It’s also imperative to get your baby down for a nap as soon as you see his ‘sleepy signals.” He will become overtired if you wait too long and unable to go to sleep as a result. Consistency is the key. Know when to get him down for a nap, and then get him down for a nap each and every time you see the signals. Those signals might include quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, rubbing eyes, fussing, yawning, or decreasing activity. Waiting too long might find your baby getting his ‘second wind’ and making it difficult if not impossible for him to lay down for his nap. When you respond to the signals right away, you not only eliminate the later possibility of having an increasingly crabby child later in the day or evening, but you eliminate the frustration for yourself of having to deal with such a fussy child. Once you’ve studied your child’s biological clock and watched for the signals carefully and consistently for a week or so, it should be a breeze to develop a solid napping schedule that will be easy for you both to follow. Developing a consistent nap routine is equally important. Just as you have a routine prior to bedtime, you should also have one for naptime. This routine should be different from your nighttime routine though, although it can have similar elements, such as quiet music. Follow the routine faithfully every day, unless your child has been especially active such as a family outing or another activity outside the daily routine. And once your baby learns the nap routine, he’ll learn the cues that tell him when naptime is nearing, making naptime easier on you as well.