To learn about the makeup of our baby’s sleep, read Sleep Cycles.
Updated article july 2021
How can we help our baby’s sleep? With everything I have read, my work with specialists and with all the parents I see every day, I think we can do a lot. And we can help your baby sleep alone while meeting their needs for love, attention, making them feel safe as part of their physical and affective development.
What emerges from a large number of studies on the subject brings down that :
- The time to fall asleep decreases during the first 6 months of life and the time of sleep during the night consolidates
- Nocturnal awakenings are less frequent in the first two years of life.
Hence the importance for parents to put in place favorable conditions in everyday life to positively influence their child’s sleep development.
I don’t want to get involved in the tiny details taking place in each household 😊. I respect every parent’s judgments about doing what you think is best for the child that you know better than anyone. I trust you! You need to act based on your personal convictions as long as each parent respects the other’s differences and decisions.
How can we help our baby’s sleep? Here are a few basic suggestions according to age.
- For a 1-month-old baby:
A newborn baby’s sleep phases are difficult to define. The baby will move from active sleep (eyes moving, sucking motion, grimacing, breathing pauses) to a calmer sleep where the baby is more sluggish. This will be repeatedly during their sleep cycle.
The length of these difference sleep phases is variable, irregular and changes over time as the baby develops neurologically. However, a one-month-old baby, even if still immature, can sleep six hours in a row and nap three to four times a day, for up to 15 hours of sleep. Before one or two months of age, it’s difficult to establish a sleep routine for a baby.
The baby’s sleep environment should promote it. From a young age, you should frequently lay the baby down in their bed and limit stimuli, such as lowering the light, closing the door, keeping the temperature around 20 degrees and humidity around 30% to 40%. Don’t worry, they’re not scared of the dark. They know it well. You can also have a background noise, such as an aquarium, a recording of heartbeats, or a fan. This can help establish constant reassuring sounds in their room and hide other sounds from the rest of the house which might affect their sleep.
A tiny baby’s sleep goes in hand with frequent physical discomfort they can feel, such as bloating, reflux and cramps. You have to relieve this discomfort to help them sleep better.
- For a Two-Month-Old Baby
Starting from two months, a baby can go to sleep by themselves in their bed. This must be with the right conditions for sleep. A baby learns to fall asleep on his own with the support of his parents, one step at a time.
If the baby wakes up during the latency phase of their sleep cycle, this is normal. They will likely fall back to sleep by themselves. The problem is when the parent doesn’t give them the time to do it. The baby won’t learn, and will wait for dad or mom to arrive. You have to avoid running quickly if they complain or cry a bit, because the baby becomes dependent on your presence. You have to reduce as much as possible your actions during the sleep routine to reduce stimuli. Your actions, if they’re necessary, have to be brief and silent, since even if sleep is punctuated by biology, it is also greatly influenced by the environment, such as parenting practice. It is stated, parents play a crucial role in their child’s sleep independence.
The earlier you establish a baby’s sleep routine, the easier their sleep will be later. To help them fall asleep (the start of their sleep cycles), you should follow the ritual daily. It should start at least 30 minutes before they should be asleep. The same actions have to be repeated night after night because the ritual will set the baby’s biological clock, reduce tension and stress and promote sleep. Like so, the parent gradually helps their child to fall asleep on their own.
To build good sleep habits for your baby, read How to establish a sleep routine?