What is good sleep?
Sleep is important for all ages. Sleeping through the night on a regular basis may be one that parents look forward to the most for their babies. It is an asked question what is considered good sleep for babies?
In the first few months, babies do not have any fixed or normal sleeping schedule. Every child is different and takes different times to get used to the day-night rhythm. Some babies sleep 11 hours a day whereas some might sleep 20. It is perfectly normal for a baby to sleep approximately 16-20 hours. When a child gets older, they can stay awake for longer and sleep can be reduced to 8 hours.
Babies sleep best when they have consistent sleep times and wake times.
Why does your baby wake up in the middle of the night?
There can be many acceptable reasons that can lead to a toddler’s discontinuous sleep, such as-
- Teething: There are many causes for sleep regressions, teething is one of them that contributes to a baby’s discomfort. The pain might get intense at night as there are lesser distractions for the baby at that time compared to today. The American Academy of pediatrics mentions that pain from teething can be painful enough to wake a baby from sleep. (1)
- Illness: catching a cold is normal and very regularly found, this affects the sleep of a baby. Running nose, heavy head, restless body, etc. disrupts the sleeping schedule. Ear infections, sore throat, normal flu, or infections may also be possible reasons.
- Changes: Going through changes can make it harder for a toddler to sleep soundly. Changes like potty training, moving to a new place or coming of a new member in the family, and change of caretaker. The baby might take some time while adjust to these changes. A lot of care and attention is needed to cross the hurdle.
- Fears: There is no big mystery behind a toddler’s fear of strange things. They get easily afraid of little things like unusual animals, big screens, etc. being alone and staying in the dark might also be a reason for such fears. Parents and caretakers can help to overcome these fears with utmost care and affection.
- Separation anxiety: It can cause many nights of disrupted sleep. During this phase of emotional development, a child might wake up many times at night and start crying. The baby might also search for either of the parents or sometimes both the parents and cry anxiously.
- Night walking: If a toddler is sleepwalking that means they are somewhere between sleep and being awake. It might get worse with illness, fever, or when a child has some unknown fears. Sleepwalking occurs in healthy children, and it is not usually related to significant emotional or psychological problems. It most commonly occurs in the late evening
- Night terror- It can arise when a toddler’s central nervous system is over-aroused during sleep. It usually occurs during non-dreaming sleep and is an episode of intense screaming, crying, thrashing, kicking, mumbling, or fear during sleep.
- Nightmare: It usually happens because of rapid eye movement when children are sleeping lightly and dreaming. They are not preventable but, regular reassurance of parents being around can make a child feel safer.
Why do babies resist sleep?
It is not something to be worried about if a baby cries before getting into bed, but fighting sleep? There are a few things that might change a toddler’s sleeping schedule and they start fighting with their own sleep.
- Over Irritated: High level of energy consumption during the day while playing sometimes can make muscles pain and cause tiredness. Pain and excessive loss of energy interrupt sleep. Irritability in toddlers is often a sign of lack of sleep.
- Overstimulated: Interruption in a toddler’s sleep schedule and routine can throw off his circadian rhythm and melatonin production, changing the environment and taking children to quiet and darker places can help instantly. This can happen due to active imaginations and high energy levels.
- Sleep regression: It is a disturbance in regular sleep behavior, sleep patterns unfold differently for every child. Sleep regression affects some while others may see their sleep improve. It can last up to six weeks and can be as short as one or two weeks.
- Traveling: Travelling is stressful, it can be more stressful and exhausting with young children. A shift from the usual bedtime schedule and usual surroundings can prompt a baby to fight sleep.
- Long nap: If babies have slept enough during the daytime they might resist sleeping and night, as their fixed sleep hour routine is completed and the same happens if they have slept longer than usual at night they will surely miss the afternoon nap.
Crying during bedtime
Suddenly when a toddler starts screaming and crying when taken to bed. It is nothing new and abnormal. Suddenly they want to get out of bed and play. Kids start freaking out when they notice separation even at bedtime from their parents. The behavior might be defiant or annoying for elders but they are learning to stay away from their elders while they are asleep. Sometimes the best way to feel comforted is to confide in another. They might be afraid of bad dreams, parents should talk to kids about their fears and comfort them with stuffed toys.
These bedtime battles can be surely battled, dark rooms should be avoided (the doors can be slightly left open). Simple experiments like reading bedtime stories, rhymes, etc. can make adjustments easier. Try avoiding fulfilling toddlers’ unreasonable demands such as parents continuously sharing beds with their kids. In return for cries and demands, parents should stay calm and keep a regular check-in in the kid’s room.
Balancing bedtime routine
There are different methods of parenting advised by different experts that talk about kids and sleep problems. A bedtime routine includes everything that parents do with their babies before putting them to bed that can include bath, last diaper change, putting on pajamas, and reading bedtime stories for them. A bedtime routine is considered good if the baby sleeps on their own without being rocked, no extra efforts are needed. There is no single right way to set up a bedtime routine. Some kids like to hear a bedtime story, others may want to talk about their day, and some may just want to say their prayers and go to sleep. As long as your child falls asleep easily and sleeps all night, then your bedtime routine is working well. A good bedtime routine will last about 10 to 15 minutes, or a little longer if you include a bath.
Safe sleeping place
Parents should make sure that their toddler’s bed is not far from them. The toddlers sleeping space should be away from windows curtains and electrical rods. During sleep, there should be an adequate distance maintained from objects like picture frames, night lamps, mobiles, and other electronic gadgets. To prevent sleep disruption, turn off all screens at least 60 minutes/1 hour before bedtime. A toddler can sleep with a thin blanket and small pillow parents should make sure the pillow is not big enough for the child to use as a makeshift step stool to climb out of his crib. And it is still a good idea to avoid big stuffed animals or soft toys.
Guide to better sleep
1-3 years after a toddler has no longer at risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). They love to move around and explore their environment, which means they can try climbing out of their cribs. If the child is still in a crib, keep his crib mattress on the lowest setting to make it harder for the child to get out. And avoid putting anything in the crib that the child could step on to help climb out, like stuffed toys or crib bumpers. If your child is still in a crib, keep his crib mattress on the lowest setting to make it harder for him to get out. And avoid putting anything in the crib that your child could step on to help climb out, like stuffed toys or crib bumpers. The environment for sleeping should be quiet, cool, dark, and comfortable. In addition to homework, many children today have scheduled evening activities (i.e., sports games, lessons, appointments, etc.) that pose challenges to getting a good night’s sleep. Take time to wind down and give your children the downtime that they need. Parents must learn to recognize sleep problems. The most common sleep problems in children include difficulty falling asleep, night-time awakenings, snoring, stalling, and resisting going to bed, sleep apnea, and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping.
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