Sleep patterns in newborn babies is different from that of children in that they usually sleep for most of the time in a day. Often this will be hard for the new parents to know what normal sleep pattern of their newborn baby is and how long a baby will sleep.
How are sleep patterns in newborn?
Newborn baby sleep for most of the time in a 24hour period and wakes up in between for feeding every few hours. There will not be any fixed schedule for the newborn sleep and their day and nights are little confusing.
Most of the newborn babies sleep for about 16 to 18hours duration in a 24hour period. They sleep mostly in the day time and will be awake during night time. This could be probably due to sleep pattern during the stay in their mother’s womb. They usually start to learn the day and night rhythm by about 6 to 8weeks of age.
But the sleep patterns can vary and some babies may not sleep during night time through their initial few months. Newborn baby will wake up for feeds atleast once in every 2 to 3 hours. Parents need to closely watch for the changes that happen in the sleep patterns of the newborn as their sleep duration will gradually decrease and awake period increases through their first year of life.
How can we identify the sleep readiness of the newborn baby?
The following signs can help you to know the readiness for sleep.
Not interested in the surroundings
Redness of the eyes
What are the different alert phases in a newborn?
Newborns also differ in their alertness as well.
Quiet & alert phase: Phase where the baby is awake, not crying, calm and interested in the surrounding.
Active & alert phase: Phase where the baby is active and attentive to sounds.
Crying phase: This follows active and alert phase. Baby can be easily over stimulated, and cries out loudly. Baby can be held and swaddled to calm down.
How can you help the baby to fall asleep?
When the newborn baby shows signs of sleep readiness, they can be held in your arms, make the environment comfortable, calm and quiet. Swaddling also help them to feel safe and help in falling asleep.
What sleep positions are best for a baby?
Putting the baby on his or her back is safest. Prone position (placing baby on tummy) and side sleeping positions has an increased risk of sudden infant death (SIDS) as per research.
What are the things to keep in mind while making a newborn sleep?
As per American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) recommendations on infant bedding:
Baby should be placed on his or her back on a firm surface
Avoid pillows, soft toys, comforters in the baby’s bed
Tuck a thin blanket only upto baby’s chest
Baby’s face should remain uncovered.
Breast milk is the best and most complete source of nutrition for all babies till 6 months of age. It has the perfect combination of nutrients such as whey proteins, carbohydrates and fats in an easily digestible form. Breast milk’s composition can vary according to the baby’s requirement particularly in the first few days of life. Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight infections and build up immunity. Exclusively breastfed babies have less chances of getting ear infections, pneumonias, diarrhoea and in general have much better immunity than babies on formula feeds. Breast fed babies also have lower risk of allergies like asthma, eczema and atopic dermatitis. Breastfed babies tend to have fewer hospital visits and less problems of colic and indigestion.
Breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood in some studies. Breastfed infants are more likely to gain the optimal amount of weight as they grow rather than become overweight or obese. Breastfeeding also plays an important role in the prevention of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). It’s been thought to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers as well, but more research is needed.
Breastfeeding has various benefits for the mother. It helps to loose pregnancy weight faster, helps in reducing post-partum blood losses, and lowers the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.
Despite the fact that breast feeding is natural and instinctive, many mothers face problems in breastfeeding as their traditional source of learning was lost with extended families being replaced by nuclear families. There is a general perception among many mothers that their milk is insufficient for the baby. Crying of the baby for any reason is taken as a sign of hunger and mothers tend to start formula feeds for falsely perceived milk inadequacy. Breastfeeding definitely requires patience and efforts in the first few days which is the time most mothers give up. As per the government figures, only 55% mothers tend to exclusively breast feed their infants for the first 6 months of life.
As formula fed babies tend to gain weight more rapidly, breastfeeding mothers start comparing their baby’s weight to them. Some mothers then feel pressurized to start their baby also on formula feeds presuming their baby is not getting enough nutrition.
The solutions to promote and protect breast feeding require team approach – an early start is always good. Pregnant ladies should be repeatedly counselled and made aware regarding breastfeeding. They should be examined for flat or inverted nipples during pregnancy as they may cause difficulty in breastfeeding. If these issues are addressed before the baby’s delivery mothers will be more confident and positive about breastfeeding. The nurses and doctors should educate the mother and address their concerns periodically. Formula feeds or any sort of additional feeds like water, honey, ghutti should be strongly discouraged. Pacifiers and artificial teats must not be introduced especially in the first few days after birth. Mothers should receive a healthy balanced diet and unnecessary dietary restrictions based on local customs should be stopped. The family should provide constant support and encouragement to the breastfeeding mother. It should be ensured that all mothers get 6 months of paid maternity leave. With all these measures, one can ensure higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months.
We at KIMS cuddles, a baby friendly hospital strongly believe in the cause of breastfeeding for every newborn. We practice early skin to skin contact and early initiation of breastfeeding for every newborn. With a dedicated team of lactation trained nurses and support staff, we achieve 80-90% exclusive breastfeeding at the end of 4-6 months from birth among our mothers.