Watching your little darlings coo as they sleep soundly can be therapy in itself. Nothing would give you more pleasure and bliss than seeing your baby is at peace and comfortable in their bed. However, some parents might face difficulties in putting their baby to sleep and most of the time, they were unable to recognise the cause or factors behind it. With that said, what can you do to help your child sleep better? Are there any visible or audible cues that you should be mindful of? We understand how confusing it is to understand your newborn’s behaviour so we have brought you some tips that can be of great use. Don’t miss out! This is a piece that you want to read until the end!
Understanding Your Baby’s Sleep Cycle
REM-Sleep & Non-REM Sleep
Knowing your goals is only half the battle. In this case, it is imperative for you to understand what makes your baby ticks so that you will be able to help them fall asleep better. There are two types of baby sleep, REM sleep and Non-Rem sleep. With that said, you will need to familiarise yourself with the word “REM”. REM is an acronym for Rapid Eye Movement, it is a state where your baby experiences light sleep as their eyes move rapidly back and forth.
Your baby starts developing their sleep routine during the final months of your pregnancy. Some babies might be very active in their sleep or immobile at all. Hence, do not be too surprised if your baby constantly tosses and turns in their sleep or stays very still. Around half of the 16 hours, your baby spent on their daily sleeping is actually in REM sleep, while older children and adults spent a lesser time. During REM sleep, babies may be awakened by noises that they would usually not respond to during Non-REM sleep.
Now that we have covered REM-sleep, let’s move onto Non-REM sleep. Non-Rem Sleep is defined by an active state of sleep that is involved during a common sleeping period complete with an intervening period of REM sleep. To put it simply, Non-REM sleep is a quiet sleep state that is often characterized by delta wave brain activities, a low level of autonomic physiological activity, and minor dreaming.
There are four stages of non-REM-sleep that you will need to know. The first stage is usually characterized by physical cues that your baby shows when they are ready for bed. At this stage, your baby will experience drowsiness, drooping eyes and they may doze off soon. Some of the signs or cues your baby might display to show that they are sleepy include being fussy, constantly looking away, yawning or rubbing their eyes. So if your little bundle of joy shows one or two symptoms of these, then it is safe to assume that they are sleepy!
At stage two, your baby will fall into a light sleep and may wake up due to sounds startling them. In the third stage, your baby will fall into a deep sleep deeply and does not move. Stage four is rather similar to stage three, the difference being your baby falling into an even deeper sleep compared to the third stage.
This is how the cycle goes for your baby, at first, your baby will show signs of sleepiness which leads to stage one, then stage two, three, four then back to three, two and REM respectively. These sleep cycles may repeat several times when your baby is sleeping. In the first few months, it’s normal for babies to face difficulty going back to sleep when they enter the light sleep stage from the deep sleep stage.
Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Better
When a baby is not well-rested or does not get enough sleep, they tend to become fussy at night. When your baby does not get enough sleep, so do you! Lucky for you, we have provided a few solutions that would help resolve this matter. So the next time your baby is throwing a tantrum or unable to sleep, you can try one of these techniques and see if they work!
Breastfeed Your Baby Before Sleep
Hunger is one of the main reasons why it is difficult for your baby to fall asleep. A rumbling empty tummy is an annoyance, especially to your little darling. Since your baby will need a sufficient amount of nutrition to keep their body functioning properly. When your baby runs out of foods, the lack of nutrition would cause their body to stay awake.
Hence, you should always breastfeed your baby before they go to bed or at most two hours before bedtime. By ensuring proper nutrition for your baby, will keep your baby relaxed and eases their body functions. As a result, it will help your baby sleep easier!
To improve your breast milk quantity and milk flow, you can have more ginger and papaya based meals! In particular, ginger improves the production of your breast milk through enhanced blood flow while papaya stimulates the smooth muscles of your breast to express milk better! You might want to get more of these superfoods in your daily meals!
Swaddle Your Baby
Swaddling your baby is a good way to promote sleep. It helps relax your baby, keeps them calm and keeps them safe too! Studies have shown that swaddled babies are shown to be quieter, have a better and more stable heart rate as well as better quality of sleep. This is probably due to the factor that the feeling of being swaddled resembles the same environment as that of your womb. So that will make your baby eases up as they can feel the familiar comfort that you provide.
Moreover, swaddling your baby is beneficial to encourage sleep as this act promotes better regulation of temperature. Your baby’s tiny and fragile body tends to catch a cold rather easily due to their immune development being a work in progress. Swaddling your child will keep them warm and more comfortable and improve your newborn sleep hours. On top of that, the act of swaddling is a great way to establish intimacy and trust between you and your child. A cute burrito baby that sleeps soundly, what’s not to love?
Remove All Distractions or Noises
Last but not least, preparing your baby for bedtime would be a lot easier if you can get your baby away from distractions or noises. If such distractions could disrupt your sleep, it will be able to make it hard for your baby as well. Plus, your baby can also be too distracted to sleep due to the bright lights as well. Placing your baby in a quiet and dark room would be a good way to solve this matter.
While having a quiet room is the usually preferred course of action for mommies to put their child to sleep, you can also opt for smooth, soothing music too. Some babies react positively to these types of music as it promotes relaxation and for the fatigue to seep in better. For the best result, maintain a consistent sound volume so that your baby will not be alerted by the sudden drop or increase in noises.
In a nutshell, getting your baby to sleep is easier once you have understood your child’s sleeping behaviour. With your patience and love, your baby would be able to sleep well to support their development during this crucial stage. All the best mamas!