Babies need a lot of sleep, but their immature nervous systems and need for frequent feedings make it difficult for their little bodies to sleep for long periods of time. Still, a good night’s sleep is vital to good health in babies, according to Time magazine. Regardless of your baby’s age or stage of development, there are some things you can do to help her develop healthy sleep habits.
Healthy sleep habits differ depending on the age of the baby. Newborns, for example, need to eat every 3 or 4 hours, according to the University of Illinois, and thus can’t sleep through the night. Older babies (around 5 months old or so) do not need to be fed in the middle of the night. At that point, they can be trained to soothe themselves back to sleep.
Safety is a must when it comes to developing healthy sleeping habits in your baby. Babies should be placed on their backs to sleep, according to the University of Michigan. This greatly reduces the change of sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, there should be no soft, loose objects, including blankets, pillows or stuffed animals, in the crib with your infant.
Babies need help developing healthy sleeping habits. Many need to be taught how to soothe themselves to sleep, especially when they awaken in the wee hours of the morning. Establish a firm bedtime and routine. Include things that will help your baby relax and become drowsy, such as a warm bath, low lighting and soft music. A pacifier can help soothe a baby who likes to suck, according to Parents magazine.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to healthy sleep habits in babies. Many parents think that a baby needs to have a full tummy to sleep, but often babies have trouble sleeping if they are overly full, according to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital website. Some may feel it is cruel to let a child cry, but a little bit of crying (prolonged, extended screaming with no attention from the parents is not recommended) may be the price to pay for teaching your child the healthy habit of being able to put herself to sleep.
Babies who do not get enough sleep can suffer from health problems in the future. A study done by Harvard Medical School, as quoted in Time magazine, found that infants who slept for less than 12 hours per day had a greater chance of being overweight at age 3 than their peers who got enough sleep. Parents who invest in helping their babies develop healthy sleep habits are setting them for better health later on in life.