New Baby and Sleepless Nights

Sleepless nights are an all too common feature of caring for a new baby. If there is one aspect that parents remember about their newborn it is the feeling of extreme tiredness and stress as a result of sleep deprivation.

If you are the parents of a new baby then expect to feel exhausted and 'frazzled' during this time. Some parents feel as if they have aged by 10 years or more which is usually due to their new baby waking up during the night.

Expect to feel tired and cranky the next day which is not good news when you have to get up early for work. But we know that it is difficult for new parents to relax during this time which also increases the likelihood of sleepless nights.

Baby sleep patterns

It takes some time for your little one to develop a regular sleep pattern. The aim is for he or she to develop good sleep habits which means being awake in the day but sleeping through the night.

Did you know that a new baby will often sleep for up to 18 hours a day?

That's great I can hear you saying.

But, he or she will do this in batches only. In other words, your little one will sleep for 3 maybe 4 hours at a time which continues throughout the day and night.

So, mum and dad, start getting used to those wake up calls in the night!

What tends to happen is that your baby will sleep for 18 hours or so but this period of time will reduce to 15 hours or less after a few months. He or she will soon settle into a routine in which they 'catnap' (short periods of sleep) in the daytime but sleep for longer periods of time at night.

Your baby may not settle into this routine until they are 6 months old. And just when you think he or she has learnt to sleep during the night he/she starts teething.

Teething means sore, painful gums which cause baby to wake up in the night. So just when you thought it was all over it starts again but this time teething is the cause.

The next time your baby will sleep for long periods of time is when he or she has reached their teenage years. Then you will find that Junior does not put in an appearance until the afternoon!

Separation anxiety

Your baby will wake up, probably in the middle of the night, and start crying. This is usually due to what is known as 'separation anxiety' in that your baby is feeling anxious about being away from you.

Your little one is understandably, upset and frightened at the thought of being separated from you. This is entirely logical as you are the person who is there to care and protect him/her.

It is a good idea to minimise this separation as much as possible. Your baby will eventually grow out of this but in the meantime, reassure him/her that you are there whenever he or she needs you.

Then try and get him/her used to being away from you. Do this for brief periods of time and gradually increase this. Also do this if you are planning on leaving baby with a member of your family or a childminder.

Developing good sleep habits

The answer to this is establish a good sleep pattern as soon as you can. You may be fortunate in that your baby learns to sleep through the night when they are as young as 2 months old. But this is the exception rather than the norm.

The chances are that your baby will not develop a regular sleep pattern until they are several months old.

What can you do to help things on their way? Look for signs that your baby is tired such as rubbing his/her eyes or starting to nod off. If you notice these signs then put him/her to bed.

The aim is for your baby to learn the difference between night and day so that he/she is awake in the day but sleeps during the night.