Lack of sleep is something most parents anticipate when their new baby arrives. It is not realistic to expect 8 hours of perfect, uninterrupted sleep with a new baby but a gradual improvement in the quality of sleep can be expected as your baby grows, develops, and their need for nutrients at night decreases. Determining the best time to establish a sleep routine for your infant is highly individual, there is no rule for or against when to start.
A study comparing newborns on a sleep-training program to a control group followed newborns from birth until 6-9 weeks of age. The study found infants on the sleep program had significantly better sleep patterns than the control group. Additionally, the parents in the sleep-program group obtained more uninterrupted sleep, reported less stress generally, and felt more competent when responding to their infants at night compared to the control group. As a Naturopathic physician, helping adults with their insomnia is something I do on a daily basis, it is so common! It is also common for people to report that their sleep problems began as children. Therefore, establishing a sleep routine in infancy may influence sleep patterns as your baby grows up. It is also interesting to note that up to 30% of children have sleep problems in their first 4 years which means less sleep for the parents during this time as well.
Many Calmmother mama’s have verified the earlier a baby is started on the routine, the easier it is to have their baby sleeping through the night and for the infant to get themselves back to sleep by self-soothing. Just like an adult, when an infant knows what to expect and is in a routine, anxiety and stress levels can be reduced. When your baby is getting more sleep, YOU are getting more sleep! More sleep for baby and mom reduces the risk of maternal depression and improves your child’s mood during the day. Always consult your healthcare practitioner to discuss the sleep program you have in mind and to ensure your baby is a good candidate for that program. Some circumstances may include: low birth weight, weight loss, low immunity, premature birth, or other health concerns your healthcare provider may have.
The Calmmother feeding and sleep guide is available here.
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* Wolfsen, A., A. Futterman, and P. Lacks. 1992. Effects of parent training on infant sleep patterns, parent’s stress, and parental perceived competency. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 60(1) 41-48.