It's All About Sleep

Written by: Marsha Baker

Fussy Baby Network was delighted to host a great infant Crying & Sleep seminar at Erikson Institute on January 26.  Forty five parents and expectant parents gave up their precious evening time to learn about infant sleep and how to get more of it!

Here are some of the main points that were discussed:

  • Experts are still discovering the true function of sleep.  Parents know that when infants and children get adequate sleep they are calmer and more available to play and learn.
  • Sleep patterns are highly variable.  Every baby is different and every culture has different ideas about the “hows” and “whens” of sleep.
  • Circadian rhythms develop early.  This biological function is influenced by environment and social cues such as natural light during the day and limited social interaction at night.
  • Sleep is one facet of a baby’s life, and sleep patterns change with development.   
  • Newborns need to rouse frequently to eat over 24 hours.  Sleep patterns are often unpredictable.
  • By four to six months, babies have made amazing changes.  Their movements are more controlled.  They are exploring their bodies.  They recognize patterns.  This is a great time to develop sleep routines.  
  • By twelve months, babies are driven to explore a wider environment.  They are eating solid foods and taking in more calories.  Their “sleep brains” are more mature, and they are capable of sleeping longer stretches at night.  Nine to twelve months is also a time of attachment so your baby or toddler may react strongly to the separation at bedtime.  Bedtime routines are comforting. 
  • Suppose your baby isn’t following this pattern?  Maybe your baby had early reflux or colic and you spent most of the first four months holding, rocking and trying to survive!  There is so much information and advice out there, that it can be hard to trust your instincts. Remember, you know your baby best.  
  • Let your baby’s sleep signs guide you.  Common signs are:  hands to face, sucking, unfocused stare, changes in activity level, fussing and yawning.  There is often a “burst of energy” before sleep. 
  • It is a myth that babies sleep more easily when they are really tired.  Actually, their nervous systems go into over drive and they are harder to settle.  You can’t force your baby to sleep, but you can provide opportunities for your baby to go to sleep when you first see those sleep signs.   
  • “Sleep Associations” are key!  These are any conditions that are always present when a baby goes to sleep.  Rocking and soft music are common sleep associations.  Putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake gives her the chance to develop her own sleep associations such as sucking her fingers.  Think about what your baby has learned to expect.  Planning sleep associations early helps later with sleep. 

If you are continuing to struggle with your baby’s sleeping, crying or feeding, call the Fussy Baby Network at 1-888-431-2229.  We’re here to help!

Posted on February 06, 2012 at 1:59 PM