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Baby's Sleep and Baby's Napping during Sleep

A proper sleep is very significant for the newborns and the toddlers. The baby needs plenty of sleep as sleep deprivation canmake her cranky. Some of the reasons why sleep is important for a baby are:
• It promotes brain development.
• It promotes the physical growth of the baby.
• It helps in storing energy needed for growth.
• It is needed to develop the limbic system, which is the brain’s center for emotional learning about new experiences.
• It decreases stress and agitation.

A Baby’s Sleep Pattern-

The sleeping pattern ofeach baby varies and all babies require a great amount of sleep. Up to 3 months, the baby may sleep as much as 16 hour or more, often in stretches of 3 or 4 hours at a time. After 3months the baby may sleep more during the night than in the daytime. By 1 year of age, the baby may sleep 12–14 hours overall and daytime naps will gradually become less frequent. She may remain awake for longer stretches at a time during the day. As your baby grows, their period of sleep decreases.
Same like adults, babieshave different phases of sleep which include drowsiness, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or dream sleep, light sleep, deep sleep and very deep sleep. In dream sleep or REM sleep, a baby’s eye can be seen darting back and forth. They may also make various kindsof noises during the sleep, which is perfectlynormal and does not signify any problem. It is believed that babies dream more than adults, which is very pivotal for their proper growth and development.

Encouraging a Baby to Sleep-

In the first few months of a newborn, the parent, especially the mother, may have to get up every few hours tend to the baby. However almost all the babies are able to sleep through the night by the time they are 6 months old. Few of the simple tips to help the baby sleep through the night are:
• Establish a bedtime ritual. Try to adjust the baby’s body clock towards sleeping at night gradually. Follow a bedtime routine like massage, singing, rocking, reading, etc. The baby will associate these activities with sleep and will help her go to sleep easily at night.
• In case of feeding the baby during night, resistthe temptation to play or talk with her so that she understands that night time is the sleeping time.
• Engage the baby by talking, playing and singing during the daytime. This will help promote better sleep at night.
• If the baby is fussy, try to rock, cuddle and sing as she is settling down.
• Sleeping babies often make noises. Sometimes fussing or crying in sleep may be asign of settling down. Wait for few minutes to check if the baby is really hungry.
• Try to have a better understanding of the baby’s sleep pattern. If you feel that your baby’s sleep behavior isrobbing your own sleep,make a practice to sleep when your baby does. Respect your baby’s preferences.

Baby’s Sleep and Breastfeeding-

Since breast milk is easier to digest than formula milk, breastfedbabies wake up more often during the night as they tend to get hungry more quickly. Feeding the baby to sleep during nighttime is a wonderful experience but chances are that the baby may associate it as a part oftheir bedtime routine. This may be a problem for the mother after some time.
Try to change the routine by breastfeeding the baby early to ensure that thebaby is not dependent on the breast milk to fall sleep. Moreover this will help the baby to fallasleep on her own.

Pros and Cons of Co-sleeping with the Baby-

The term co-sleeping refers to the sharing ofa sleep surface by an infant and a parent (especially the mother). In many cultures, infants sleep with their mother. Sleeping close to the baby provides physical protection against cold and makes night time breast feeding more convenient. Co-sleeping makes the parents quickly respond if the baby starts crying in the night. It may help the baby to get more night time sleep and may cry significantly less. Moreover, co-sleeping provides extra time to spend with the baby and strengthens the emotional bondage between the parents and the child.
Though co-sleeping is common in most parts of the world, studies suggest that it may put the baby at risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant who is younger than 1 year of age. Parents under the influence of alcohol and drugs might not be aware of their baby’s presence and might roll on top or against the baby while she is sleeping. And, once the baby forms the habit ofsleeping next to the parent, it may be difficult to break or she may have trouble sleeping in the absence of her parent.

A Safe Sleep Environment for the Baby-
A safe comfortable environment for the baby can be created by following the mentioned tips:
• Use a firm or flat mattress to avoid suffocation or SIDS.
• Avoid waterbeds, couches, sofas, pillows,soft materials, or loose bedding for the baby’s sleep.
• Avoid string or ties on the baby’s nightclothes.
• Always put the baby on her back to reduce the risk of SIDS.
• Do not overdress the baby especially during the sleep.
• Do not drink or smoke when sleeping with the baby.
• Do not allow siblings inthe bed with the baby.
• Ensure that baby’s head is uncovered to allow ventilation.
• Never leave the baby alone in an adult bed.
• Never put the baby down to sleep on a pillow.
• Ensure that there are no spaces between themattress and headboard, walls and other surfaces where the baby might get entrapped.
• When your baby learnsto sit, lower the mattress level in the crib to avoid falling or climbing out.

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