Baby Sleep

Zzzz… Baby Sleep

Written by Allison Nunez, CBS, Student IBCLC

Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open. 

Do you even remember what life was like when you actually got 8 hours of sleep?  These sleepless nights and days can be brutal with a new baby in the house and can mess with you – physically, mentally and emotionally. 

Sleep is hugely important to your health and your little one’s growth and development. When you don’t get sleep, your reflexes and responses slow down, you get moody, irritable and your coping mechanisms can really dwindle down to nothin’! That’s when we break down, scream at the older kids or partners, cry in the shower (or while breastfeeding for the 100th time that day).  You feel the weight on your eyes, on your shoulders and in your heart.…and no one really talks about how lack of sleep contributes to it all. 

Here at SimpliFed we are Mamas, too. We have been there and we have felt that. It’s part of our mission to help you get through all of the hard moments. We focus on simply feeding your baby, but we also have to recognize the need to SimpliSLEEP! 

So, we reached out to one of our favorite sleep consultants in the California Bay Area and had some of  your questions answered!

At what age should we stop contact naps?

3-4 months is a great age to work on crib naps vs. contact naps. I recommend  one nap in the crib each day right from the start with your newborn so they are comfortable in that environment. The first nap of the day is generally the best for crib naps as it’s usually the nap that babies fall asleep the easiest. Start with one nap a day in the crib and slowly build up to all naps. If contact naps aren’t working for you anymore, of course you can jump right in and offer all naps in the crib. 

Is the ‘never wake a sleeping baby’ saying true?

A lot of those silly “sayings” are true or hold some truth but this is not one of them. One time it can be very important to wake a sleeping baby is during the day to feed them. A great goal is to feed your baby more during the day than night. If your baby is snoozing through a daytime feed, they are more likely to wake throughout the night to make up for that feed. Another time I suggest waking a baby is in the morning to start the day. This can be helpful when trying to create a more consistent and predictable schedule. 

When should I start sleep training?

I start working with clients with sleep training around 5 months as long as your baby is gaining weight and there aren’t any health concerns. I have worked with children up to 7 years of age—so as of yet, I don’t think it’s ever too late to improve on sleep. You can start working on a healthy sleep foundation from day one using age appropriate awake windows and creating a sleep environment that promotes sleep (dark, safe, sound machine, swaddle or sleep sack). 

There are SO MANY different “sleep training” methods. How do I know which one is best?

This is such a personal decision to make just like parenting philosophies. I personally focus on finding the most gentle method for your child’s age, personality and your comfort level. This can be something as gentle as a pickup-putdown method to a chair method where you slowly move out of the room over a 2 week period to a controlled cry. I look at the whole picture and focus on small wins and creating a solid foundation vs. crying to sleep for a fast solution.

My baby is a terrible napper during the day! Will it affect her brain development? Help!

Short naps are SO normal and to be expected especially during the newborn stage. I see naps starting to consolidate and lengthen between 5-6 months when the baby can be awake for longer stretches of time and start connecting sleep cycles. Before 4-5 months of age I always recommend offering naps using awake windows then after 5 months of age I switch to a daily schedule created around age appropriate awake windows.

How many hours of sleep should my baby get each day/night?

0-3   Months: 14-17 hours in 24 hour period

3-6   Months: 3-4 daytime hours; 10-12 total nighttime 

6-9   months: 3 daytime hours; 10-12 total nighttime 

9-13  Months: 2-3 daytime hours; 10-12 total nighttime

Can my baby sleep on her tummy?

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests laying your child down on their back for the first 12 months of life. This is the safest sleep position and has been proven to reduce SIDS. It is thought that once your baby is strong enough to roll and get to their tummy, they are safe sleeping in this position. It would be nearly impossible at that stage to roll them back each time, all night long. I do find that many babies start sleeping better naturally once they are able to find side or tummy positions on their own. 

At what age can babies go through the whole night without breastfeeding?

There are so many variables to when a baby “should” sleep through the whole night without needing to feed. From your baby’s weight gain, age and medical. I would definitely bring this question up with your pediatrician. 

Baby wakes up at 3 or 4am and won’t go back to bed unless we hold him. What can we do?

I would look at the way you are putting the baby to bed at night. If you are holding your baby to fall asleep at night, they are most likely needing this same comfort to fall back to sleep in the early hours of the morning when their drive to sleep isn’t as strong as it is in the first part of the night. I suggest helping your baby fall asleep independently at bedtime and implementing that same method through the night when they wake at 3/4am. 

When should I move my baby to the crib from the bassinet?

I like to transition the baby from bassinet to the crib between 3-4 months old. You want to move them to the crib (in a lowered position) when they are becoming mobile and can roll  for safety reasons. 

Well, there we have it, Mamas! You asked and we found the answers for you.  SimpliFed is on your side through the sleepless nights and the the everyday struggles. If you are breastfeeding, remember that the first 6 weeks are  essential in establishing your supply. Talk to a lactation consultant about any concerns you might have regarding maintaining your supply while working through baby-sleep transitions. There is a fine balance between getting the sleep you want (!!) and the nursing/pumping schedule you need.  Each dyad (mama/baby duo) is different, so reach out for support from the experts you deserve. We are all here to support you!

For more questions and amazing sleep training tips, contact Heidi Lovens

IG: @everydaylovens 

Allison Nunez