Healthy sleep habits for your happy child

Healthy sleep habits for your happy child
October 01 21:44 2016 image:

As a parent, there are only two times you will get to rest: when your baby or child is sleeping and when you marry them away! Anytime other that, you will not get any rest, don’t even waste your time trying, that’s what all parents go through. Funny thing though is that you can tell if your child is happy and healthy through their sleeping habits. It takes getting to know your child’s healthy sleeping habits to know whenever there is something wrong with your kid. If you are a new parent reading this, you should know one fact: Newborns cannot sleep through the night. This probably means you also won’t sleep through the night because they will make sure you don’t!


Baby sleeping patterns and why they are more important than you think

A newborn baby will sleep a lot usually around 16 to 17 hours a day. Although they sleep this much, most babies will not stay asleep for more than 2 to 4 hours at a time, it doesn’t matter if its day or night. This is the normal sleeping cycle of a newborn until it reaches 2 weeks of age.

This kind of sleeping pattern gives your little one all the sleep it needs to grow but that means you have to live by an irregular timetable, one that will leave you very tired, to say the least.  New parents get ready to wake up many times during the night to go attend to your little one and don’t be calling your doctor too, it’s all normal and your newborn is as healthy as they come.

As your child grows up, their sleeping cycle begins to change too, around 6 to 8 weeks you will notice shorter daytime sleep and much longer night sleep (yes go ahead and smile) they will wake up from time to time during the night to make a cry for their bottle or get a nappy changed.

When your healthy child reaches the 4 to 6 months benchmark, you will notice an increase in night sleep duration. Specialists say healthy babies of this age can sleep for a stretch of 8 to 12 hours each night. Some babies may continue to wake up briefly but that changes as they approach the toddler phase.

Good news for you, you can help your baby get to this stage of the sleeping cycle a little faster by training them and instilling good healthy sleep habits. We will talk about that in detail just below.


Promoting and instilling good sleep habits in healthy children

In as much this may give parents a little bit of relief especially at night, encouraging and promoting good sleeping habits can help you monitor your child’s state of health. You will easily be able to tell if your kid is not feeling well when they start deviating from the usual sleeping patterns.

So if you want to help your baby settle down into a steady and convenient sleeping pattern, there are a few things you need to do.


  • Allow enough time for your baby to take regular and frequent naps. During the first 6 to 8 weeks of baby life, the baby is not able to stay awake for more than 2 hours in between sleeping sessions. What most people usually do is to try and keep the baby from sleeping with the hope that they accumulate the need to sleep and sleep throughout the whole night. Unfortunately, this is not always true as some of you have already witnessed, if you keep your little one awake longer than the normal time they will get distressed, overtired, restless and basically struggle to fall asleep, which will lead to heartbreaking all night screams.
  • Your baby needs to learn the difference between day and night. If you are a new parent you will notice that most newborn babies stay wide-awake at night and ultimately force you to be up with them. In the days after birth, you will not be able to do much about this except to embrace the fatigue and soldier on. But around 2 weeks after birth, you can begin to teach your baby and make them understand the difference between night and day.


You sure must be wondering how you can achieve this, it not that complicated really, in fact, you will find it quite easy to do and apply.

When the baby is awake during the day you should interact and play with them a lot. DO this as much as you possibly can. Make sure the house is kept bright and filled with light. The baby’s room and play area should be full of light too. Just continue with the normal day-to-day happenings; do not reduce the daytime noises like music, radio, phone calls or cleaning sounds.

At night do the opposite, do not play with them or interact when they wake up except when you have to feed or change a super wet diaper. Dim the lights or switch them off especially in the baby’s room. Eliminate all noise and sounds especially those that frequent during the day. When you do this, the baby will start figuring out the difference and associate nighttime with sleep.


  • Keep an eye out for fatigue and distress signs. You have to watch closely in order to see them, if your baby is tired they will start rubbing their eyes, pull on their eyes and become distressed and fussy. If you notice these signs you should put them down to sleep. The more you pay attention to these little things the easier it will be for you to master your daughter or son’s sleeping patterns.
  • Establish a bedtime routine for your baby. There is no mandated age to start doing this but the earlier the better. The trick lies in associating something with bedtime. For example, you can bathe the baby, change them and put them down to sleep. If you do this constantly they will start falling asleep every time they are changed or bathed.
  • Teach the baby to fall asleep on its own. You may have realized that it’s easier for the baby to fall asleep in your arms or lap or even when you are lay beside it. So to teach the baby how to fall asleep on its own you have to put it in bed when he or she is sleepy but still awake, do not let them fall asleep in your arms. This learning practice is usually applied when the child is around 6 to 8 weeks of age.


Also, you should refrain from actions that help your baby fall asleep. Actions, like rocking or nursing the baby to sleep, should be discarded even for very young babies. Such actions are cause very nasty and bad sleeping habits that could be difficult to shake off. It’s simple, whatever mechanism you use to get the baby to sleep during the first 8 weeks will become their trademark sleeping habit. Now do you want you baby depending on such to fall asleep?

  • Dream feeding your baby is another sleep habit practice that is very popular. Dream feeding is semi-waking a baby up for a feed sometime around 10pm and 12am to help them sleep longer during the night. This method works but could later prove to be a bad sleeping habit when your child no longer sleeps long cycles without being fed.
  • Another way to establish healthy sleep habits for your child is to make sure you baby sleeps in the same place most of the time. This can be in a room or by the baby cot, whatever the place; it should be specific for sleeping and not playing or prolonged interaction.


When should you be worried?

As mentioned above, baby sleeping patterns evolve and are very dynamic, as such you should be able to learn and master your child’s healthy sleep habits. However, there are some cases that are common to all babies and should raise concern whenever they pop up. One such case is that of unsoothable crying especially late at night. Such cries are usually linked the colic syndrome, shown by excessive crying and fussiness in an otherwise healthy baby. So if you experience this around the first few weeks after birth or around 12 weeks of age, it’s best you consult your doctor.

So there you have it folks, a short breakdown of sleeping habits for healthy children. Remember children are different so its important to know your child, especially knowing the different between their happy and healthy state and when they are in distress.


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