In the weeks leading up to childbirth, you probably thought that once the baby is born, you can finally get your old body back and have some much needed mental and physical rest. However, soon after childbirth you have come to grasp the fact that with a baby in tow, rest is the last thing that you’ll be able to afford easily. With the arrival of your newborn, sleep walks out of the door — we all know that when your baby is awake, you’ll have to keep your eyes wide open too. And the outcome of lack of sleep is a cranky baby and cranky parent. It is a vicious cycle that can take a toll on you and your little bundle of joy as well.
However, by planning ahead and managing your schedules better, it is not totally impossible to get some good sleep. New research conducted on baby sleep (or the lack thereof) has proven that babies can sleep better, and you can too, with the help of these two tricks. What do these researchers have up their sleeve? Read on to find out:
1. Babies And Sleep
A good amount of sleep daily is crucial for the growth and development of newborn babies. If we’re talking numbers, then this is what it means — seventy-five percent of the total growth hormones that a baby’s body produces are released during sleep. We know that babies are on an eat, sleep, poop, repeat cycle; however, many parents complain that their toddlers aren’t getting enough shut-eye, especially at night (1).
So why are babies awake during the night? Is it normal? Newborn babies need to be fed close to eight to twelve times a day, easily every two to three hours. Your baby is most likely waking up at night for a midnight snack! At other times, it could be because of a soiled diaper. Considering how much milk or formula they drink, babies need a diaper change every two to three hours. So, your diaper duties can wake them up too. Other times, your baby may wake up at night if they’ve slept a lot during the day (2).
All this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, with a few changes in routine and two essential tips that we’ll dive into, you and your baby might be able to enjoy some blissful sleep at night! Keep reading:
2. Baby Sleep Tips: New Research Findings
Disruptive sleep patterns can be a pain for both you and your baby. New research suggests two tips that can help increase snooze time and night, and it’s so simple: less screen time, more massages. Yes, you read that right! (3), (4).
3. Less Screen Time
We live in a digital world. We spend a reasonable amount of time gaping at phones, notepads, laptops, and whatnot. But adults aren’t the only consumers of screen time: more and more adults are using phones and electronics as a play tool for babies and infants. It is not uncommon to see babies giggling at or playing with phones. In this research conducted by Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medical Department of Biomedical Data Science, it was found that babies aged twelve months and below who were exposed to screen time enjoyed lesser sleep time than those babies who weren’t exposed to screen (3).
In addition to the blue light that hampers your sleep cycle, digital content is also very engrossing. The new TV shows are more and more exciting and demand you to binge watch them through extended periods of time. You probably think once I finish this particular one, I will get my much needed sleep. But with the sheer quantity of programs available online today, there’s always one more movie or soap you have to finish before getting to sleep. Try not to pass on your screen habits to your child.
4. Routine Infant Massages
We can collectively agree that massages are one of the greatest stress-busters, but that is not all — it could also pave the way for better sleep in infants. A study was conducted on twenty-five infants who suffered from sleep issues. The results showed that seven out of eight babies showed a significant improvement in sleep quality and quantity after routine infant massages. The benefits of massaging your baby are endless — it is believed that massages can strengthen the immune system, stimulate the vagus nerve, increase oxygen flow, and relieve gas. All of this can contribute to better sleep in babies. It can also improve the bond with your baby, especially if you incorporate massages when you have skin-to-skin contact or kangaroo care with your baby (4).
It is important to massage your baby the right way so that they are safe, so here are a few pointers to keep in mind (4):
- Make sure you massage your baby in a calm and peaceful environment free from noise or commotion. Excess noise can leave your baby in distress.
- It is crucial to find the proper pressure that your baby can handle, so start gently.
- Do not tickle or play with your baby when you are massaging them.
- Focus on applying gentle pressure and slow strokes along your baby’s legs, back, and arms.
- Keep a tab on how they respond to the massage; if they show any signs of discomfort, you should stop and try a different approach or resume after some time.
The two tips we discussed are not the only way to ensure a good sleep. But they are simple and effective. While the above-mentioned tips are based on research from experts, it is worth noting that each child is different. It’s totally possible that your child is having some entirely other reason for the lack of good sleep. If your child seems to have serious trouble with sleep, it is best to bring it to the notice of your doctor. Also keep a track of their activities and time table to have a better analysis. Till then you can use the two tips we have mentioned in this article. Have you tried this approach? Did it work for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
- Infant sleep and its relation with cognition and growth: a narrative review
- The Diaper Change Play: Validation of a New Observational Assessment Tool for Early Triadic Family Interactions in the First Month Postpartum.
- Associations between daily screen time and sleep in a racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of US infants: a prospective cohort study
- The Effects of Baby Massage to Sleep Quality in Infant Age 1-7 Months