Many of us have kids who sleep well both during the day and night. But I know many who have kids as early as a week who start waking up in the early morning around 3 or 4, making it difficult for the parents to sleep. So how do we change this? Is it possible to train the child from the beginning? How many hours does a baby sleep? Yes, all these questions pop up when you think about it. So let me make it a little clear to you.
Usually the baby in da first 3months sleep around 3 to 4 hours at a stretch only to wake up for a feed again. But again as I told u earlier it changes from baby to baby. Some kids do it regularly and some kids even in the first few weeks sleep for about 6 to 8 hours at a stretch. We need not wake up the child to give them a feed thinking they might be hungry. A hungry child will not sleep longer. But it is really important to teach the kid the transition between a night and a day and this can be taught even from the first day itself.
To ensure this all we need to do is to reduce the stimulation in the child's environment. That is we need to make sure that by evening the room where the baby is sleeping has dim lights and a light sound (preferably soothing) and avoid interacting with the child when they wake up early in the morning. The child will be irritable and cranky initially but if you start playing or interacting with the child, it makes them more active. So it becomes a routine as the child associates that time with the memory of the loved ones interacting with them.
Even if the kid is a little irritable, we can try soothing them by singing a lullaby or gently carrying them on our shoulder, whichever the child finds comforting. You may not be a wonderful singer, but trust me every child will find the mother singing to them as very soothing (not after a few years when they say - "please mom stop singing") compared to a song played on an iPad or an audio. It generates an emotional bond between the two of you. In the morning, it's really important to expose them to the sunlight for the vitamin D.
Once the child is not used to the routine sleep, it will take usually about 2 yrs to get back to a normal schedule. These kids usually wake up till midnight, sleep till 10 in the morning, making it a tiring day for the parents as well. If a kid is already used to this schedule we can try changing it by skipping an afternoon nap for 1 or 2 days and giving them an early dinner (6 to 7 p.m, the usual recommended time). Some do sleep after giving them a bath with warm water in the night. Fix up a waking time not dependant on the sleeping time(around 7a.m). These small changes will help in changing the schedule in a week or 2. Also some believe that making a child go to sleep amidst the sound and all the disturbance makes it easier for the parents to take them everywhere. But as I already said a sound sleep promotes a healthy growth than a disturbed one. What is easy for us may be hard on the child.
After 6 months the child wakes up more time in da morning but may wake up every 3 hours for the feed in da night. The average sleep for a 6mon to 1yr old is around 14 hrs. From the 2nd year to the 4th yr it may be around 11hrs and from 5 to 10yrs it is around 8 - 10 hrs. Usually after that the kids sleep around 8 to 9 hrs. As the child grows up the day time napping regularly comes down with most 5 yrs not sleeping in the afternoon. U will see many children waking up in the night regularly for the feed until 2 yrs. But it's normal too. The number of feeds continue to decrease by 2 to 3 yrs with many of them sleeping throughout the night. The most common times at which they wake up for a feed is around 12.00 a.m and around 4.00 a.m.
HAVE U EVER HEARD OF THIS SO CALLED WITCH HOURS?
Aptly named, they usually happen when the kids are around 8 to 14 wks. They usually last for about 2 to 3wks maximum. This is the time when the kids have a disturbed schedule of feeding and sleep and are irritable and crying for a long period of time even after the feed. The kid usually doesn't have any medical or a physical problem. This happens mostly in da evening around 6p.m and may extend for about 4 hrs. It's not clear as to why it happens but it sure scares the hell out of us. The only way to deal with it is to soothe the baby in ways which usually work for the kid and avoid over stimulation and alerting the baby further by involving many people around you. A drive in da car, rocking in a cradle, singing a lullaby, are some of the most common things tried. Here’s the catch. Some kids do calm down only through feed which may last for the whole 4 hrs. So now you understand why it's called a witch hour right? ;)
But as everything this gets better with time too. Though the usual interval of sleep is 3 hrs at that age. After these episodes the child takes a 6 to 8 hr long sleep giving us enough time to recover from all the crying and yelling.
So all the moms, here's to hoping that your kids won't have the witch hours and if they do... CALM DOWN...now you know what to do!
Remember it's always an early start to a healthy life...