Thursday, 19 June 2008

Infant Sleep Habits

Just like most adults, children are also creatures of habit. With regards to sleep, an infant will quickly form habits that may be good habits or they may be bad. These bad habits are what could easily be what is causing your infant sleep problems. They could also be habits that you have helped them to form because of your lifestyle or because you thought they would in fact help them to sleep.

Let us take a look at a few of the habits that could easily be formed that would hinder your infant's sleep:

* Feeding just before your baby goes to sleep.

In theory this sounds like a great idea. The later you can feed your infant before they go to sleep the longer it will be before they're hungry and wake for another feed.

However, what actually happens is that your infant gets into the habit of needing a feed before they will go to sleep and whilst this is usually not a problem either before they go to bed at night or before daytime naps, what do you think happens when baby awakes during the night?
Yes of course, they have developed the habit of needing a feed and so won't go back to sleep until they've woken you and you've given them another feed! Infants will very often naturally wake a number of times during the night and so if this bad infant sleep habit has been formed

* Rocking your infant to sleep.

Rocking your baby to sleep is another bad habit for you (and them) to get into. A baby that is regularly rocked to sleep will soon never go to sleep until they have been rocked. This will not be too much fun for you if it is required at 2am then 4am and so on!

* Staying awake until overly tired.

This is often encouraged by parents for one of several reasons. Firstly a parent may believe that if their infant is very tired then they are much more likely to sleep through the night. This can very often have the exact opposite effect however and the over tired child will have far more trouble getting to sleep than they would if they had been put to bed an hour or so earlier.

Secondly, (and this will be a difficult one to resolve for many parents) many parents work during the day and look forward to getting home at night and playing with their infant for an hour or so before they are put to bed. The downside to this however is twofold: 1/ As noted above the infant is kept awake for longer than they should and so they can become overtired and find it difficult to get to sleep. 2/ Playing just before bedtime excites baby and stimulates his or her mind. This stimulation and excitement make it more difficult for them to then get to sleep when eventually put to bed.

Obviously, every parent wants to play with their child when they return from work but many have found that slightly reducing the amount of play time in the evening can have a great effect on their infant's sleep.

* No sleep routine

In this instance, having no sleep habit is similar to having a bad sleep habit! It is important that as a parent you help to develop good infant sleep habits and this includes setting (and keeping to) a routine that leads up to baby being put to bed. As much as possible you should attempt to put your infant to bed at a similar time each night. Of course, this is not always possible but keeping to a set bedtime whenever you can will reap it's dividends.

The routine leading up to bedtime should also be kept standard where possible. Write out your preferred routine and keep to it as much as you can. As an example, your baby's sleep routine may include: a bath, a change of nappy or diaper, then placing them in their crib or cot, next a bedtime story or singing a lullaby and finally ending with you leaving their room before they go to sleep.

The Baby Sleep Solution could help you to break bad sleep habits and create new habits that will help your infant to get the sleep he or she badly needs.

For more help in solving your baby sleep problem, visit