Every parent is excited to introduce their bundle of joy to the world, but life is not so joyous when the little one can't sleep at night. The endless crying when a baby experiences discomfort at night can throw you into anxiety. It becomes difficult to sleep, even for the rest of the family, if the youngest member of the family experiences difficulties in their sleep. As you may know, the little ones are very delicate. Simple things like their favorite teddy bear on the crib can turn out to be hazardous and life-threatening. Fortunately, people have been delivering and raising babies since the beginning of time, Therefore, safety baby sleep practices have been established and they continue to improve over time. In this article, we break it all down and give you all the bits of information you need to keep your baby healthy and safe at night.
Why You Need To Practice Safe Baby Sleep
1) Sleep is healthy, not just for adults but for babies as well. Both the physical and mental wellness of a baby is affected by the quality of sleep they get. Good quality sleep helps in the development of a child's brain given that neurotransmitters and cells are developed when they're asleep. In addition, a baby who sleeps well is likely to be happier and less moody when awake.2) Safe practices reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). We've all heard of horrid stories of a healthy baby who was put to sleep but suddenly died in an unexplained manner. No parent wishes to go through such an experience but SIDS could happen to anyone, especially at night when everyone else is asleep. Luckily, safe sleeping practices are believed to reduce cases of SIDS.
3) Quality sleep for the baby means sound sleep for you as well. It is difficult to rest and enjoy your sleep when your baby is restless or when you're worried that a toy you left on their bed could be choking him/her. Furthermore, when you don't get enough sleep, your health is affected and it becomes difficult to perform your caregiver roles or advance your career.
Preparation Before Sleep
Quality sleep is synonymous with comfort. Your baby needs to be as comfortable as possible before you put them to sleep. Otherwise, they'll wake you up with loud screams just to remind you their diaper was never changed. The following practices will not only help the baby sleep soundly, but they will also prepare them psychologically for the sleep session.
If you're keen, you'll notice that your baby tends to doze off after every bath. After all, they were swimming and sleeping in amniotic fluid for nine months before birth. Bathing cools the body and puts the child at ease, thus making it easier to fall asleep. It is therefore recommended that you bathe the child an hour or two before they retire to bed. This, however, depends highly on the climatic conditions and your schedule. If you live in a very cold environment, bathing the baby could lead to unwanted colds and flu. In such an environment, simply resort to wiping the baby with a warm cloth before you put them to sleep.
Breastfeeding And Feeding
Would you sleep on a hungry stomach? It's impossible to fall asleep if the stomach is not full. Furthermore, if the baby wakes up at night due to hunger, they will want to suckle anything they can get their hands on, including the blanket. Therefore, ensure they're well fed just before they sleep to avoid interruptions at night.
Breastfeeding has also proven to be effective in putting babies to sleep. Remember, a mother's milk is rich in essential nutrients which aid in the child's development at night. Moreover, your baby may be afraid of going to bed because this means they will be separated from their mother/caregivers, Therefore, breastfeeding them right before bedtime is a form of reassurance which contributes immensely to their mental well-being thus making it easier to sleep for longer hours.
What Should The Baby Wear To Sleep?
Onesies are very popular, but a night sack could also work perfectly, Just ensure your baby is warm and comfortable before you put them to sleep. Look out for tight waste lines and necklines and ensure their breathing is not interfered with. If you're opting to use a hat due to cold, ensure it does not have strings which could choke the baby at night. In addition, use clothes and hats with soft fabrics that do not cause itchiness. Changing diapers
A cold or soiled diaper will not just wake the baby, it could cause diaper rash, infections and the baby could catch a cold, Just as you'd enjoy sleeping in a dry and warm environment, the baby too wishes for the same. Ensure you change their diaper right before bedtime as this will guarantee warmth for the rest of the night.
Let them sleep in your room. While many parents prefer to have a separate room for their babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends otherwise. Parents are advised to sleep in the same room as their babies until they're at least 12 months old. However, they're not to sleep on the same bed. The baby can sleep on a designated crib. Sleeping in the same room has a number of advantages. First, you can easily feel the baby turning or making any unusual sounds. Second, the baby is within easy reach and every time you wake up to visit the toilet, you can just glance at the crib to make sure they're doing fine. Lastly, having the baby closer to you eliminates unnecessary trips to his or her room to change diapers or feed the baby. This, in return, gives you more time to rest and refresh yourself.
What To Do When They Start Climbing Out Of Their Crib?At some point, your baby will begin to outgrow their crib. They might start using its walls to stand up and even climb out of bed, which can be dangerous. When this time comes, lower their mattress (most baby mattresses are adjustable) to ensure they can't climb out of bed even when they stand up.
Many parents get this all wrong. There is a clear distinction between a one-year-old and a 5-year-old. This is why the APP advises parents to stay away from covering babies with soft blankets or any kind of cloths. Such can easily suffocate the baby if they turn severally at night. Remember, your baby does not have the ability to disentangle from a twisted blanket.
To prevent overheating, choking and suffocation, simply use a small flat (not soft) mattress. There should be no space between the mattress and the crib walls. In addition, avoid any form of clutter, such as toys, teddy bears or diapers on the crib. In a nutshell, the baby's sleeping space should just have a mattress and a firmly tucked sheet on top of it. Do not cover the baby with anything.
Your baby is still trying to make sense of their new world. They interpret things according to patterns and familiarity. This is why you should maintain a strict routine, such that they automatically know when it's time to sleep. For instance, their sleep routine can be a series of activities such as feeding, bathing/diaper change, change of clothes, breastfeeding and bedtime. You should also set aside a specific time frame during which the baby retires to bed, This should be as early as 7:00 to 8:00 P.M.
A pacifier could also be a great addition to the sleep routine if it helps soothe the baby. If your baby has difficulties falling asleep, you may also consider playing lullabies once they're bathed, fed and ready for bed.
You've probably heard about the crazy stories of babies developing funny head shapes due to sleeping positions. Whether they're true or not, babies are supposed to sleep with their backs, not with the sides or stomachs facing down. This position is safer as the baby is able to breathe properly. If they roll in the middle of the night, do not try to change their position as this might disturb their sleep.
The Sleeping Environment
Ensure there's fresh air and regulate the temperatures
Quality sleep is a culmination of many things, including the immediate environment surrounding your baby. Ensure it's as peaceful as possible and that all the health hazards are eliminated. Do not allow anyone to smoke or light a fire inside the house as this could cause breathing problems for the child. In addition, ensure there is plenty of fresh air by opening the windows when the baby is not sleeping (especially during the day). Also, keep the temperatures regulated by using a fan or room heater. However, be cautious when regulating the temperatures and consult your pediatrician if need be.
The general feel of your bedroom
Lastly, pay attention to the general mood of your bedroom. Simple things like a room's color or noise can affect the baby's sleep. For instance, children tend to respond well to calm colors like baby blue and pink. If you have the extra cash to spend, repaint or redecorate your room to give it a nice cool effect.