We all expect a few sleepless nights with a new arrival to the household. A new baby means crying at night; feeding, changing, burping.
Everyone wants to get baby sleeping through the night as quickly as possible, but did you know that research suggests the first six months are critical for setting patterns not only for baby now, but for the rest of their life?
Why night sleep matters
Scientists can see a clear link between disturbed sleep and people who develop depression. This is also true of people with poor circadian rhythms. To help avoid developing or worsening depression, adopting good sleep habits is key.
Babies born to moms with depression tended to nap more during the day. This creates a vicious cycle where they wake in the night because they are not tired after day napping, then need to nap the following day because of a disrupted night. This needs to be stopped early to avoid making it worse.
That being said, don’t worry too much about very sporadic naps before 6 months. And some regulated napping is perfectly normal for children from most cultures, throughout their lives – Spain is especially famous for this.
What can you do to help?
Establishing routines is key. You should aim to have bedtimes and nap times at the same time every day. Having separate clothes for night and daytime can also help children get the idea.Although you likely already do this, when your baby is asleep, be sure not to disturb them. Make sure that there is as little stimulus as possible – no light, with curtains tightly pulled, and no sound from other rooms. Also be sure not to check on your baby excessively when they’re sleeping, though checking once or twice is fine.
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