WHY WON’T YOU JUST SLEEP?

You can’t wait to hit the sack, but your baby seems to have other ideas. ELISA CHIA gets ex­pert tips on how you can help him to nod off.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

You can’t wait to hit the sack, but your baby seems to have other ideas. Ex­perts share how you can help him to nod off.

How much sleep does my new­born need?

DR PANG A new­born gen­er­ally sleeps two to four hours at a time, adding up to about 18 hours a day. He wakes up hun­gry and needs to eat around the clock at first, so night and day don’t mat­ter much.

But they mat­ter to me! How can I set his body clock?

DR PANG You can be­have dif­fer­ently. Dur­ing the day, talk to him more while you feed him. At night, be more sub­dued and quiet. Keep the light­ing dim. Even­tu­ally, he will catch on and be­gin to sleep more at night.

But to sleep through the night? How soon that hap­pens will vary ac­cord­ing to the in­di­vid­ual, as well as fac­tors like age and cir­cum­stances.

Will my baby sleep bet­ter in a sarong?

DR TOH It’s quite nor­mal for any­body to feel sleepy with move­ment. That’s what a sarong does. Even when a mum cra­dles her child, her rock­ing helps to calm and coax the lit­tle one to sleep.

But here’s the more im­por­tant ques­tion: Is it safe? Your baby might fall out from the sarong and, in the worst sce­nario, frac­ture his skull.

Thank­fully, the in­ci­dence of se­vere head in­jury has dropped sig­nifi­cantly be­cause sarong sleep­ing is hardly prac­tised now.

Should we tip­toe around our new­born to help him sleep longer?

DR KARP No, that’s a myth. Ba­bies don’t like crash­ing and chaotic noises, but they des­per­ately need rhyth­mic, rum­bling noises when they’re asleep and up­set. In the womb, they had that 24/7. When they get this white noise, they are much hap­pier and bet­ter sleep­ers.

There are many CDs with record­ings of womb sounds. You can get them from mo­bile apps, too – but a word of warn­ing about smart­phones: They re­lease mi­crowave ra­di­a­tion, so you should al­ways put yours on air­plane mode when you place it near your baby.

How do I teach him to soothe him­self to sleep?

DR KARP I’d like to share one of my book’s key sug­ges­tions. I warn you, it may make you think I’ve lost my mar­bles. But hu­mour me. It’s called wake-and-sleep.

Many sleep ex­perts warn that mums who lull their ba­bies to sleep in their arms or while suck­ling are set­ting them­selves up for mis­ery. They cau­tion that ba­bies soothed to sleep ev­ery night won’t learn to self-soothe and will be hooked on Mama’s help to sleep ev­ery time they wake up.

The ad­vice sounds log­i­cal, but it puts par­ents in a ter­ri­ble bind. Yes, rock­ing or nurs­ing a baby to sleep ev­ery night will cre­ate a sleep cue he ex­pects at ev­ery wak­ing. But it’s im­pos­si­ble to keep him from zonk­ing out when he’s be­ing cra­dled with a stom­ach full of warm, sweet milk.

Be­sides, there is noth­ing more beau­ti­ful than rock­ing your pre­cious, sleep­ing child in your arms. So, it feels wrong to tell par­ents and care­givers not to cud­dle their ba­bies to sleep. Yet, it will keep him from learn­ing the skill of self-sooth­ing.

So, what’s a mum to do? Luck­ily, there’s an easy so­lu­tion to this puz­zle. As your baby’s bed­time ap­proaches:

- Turn on white noise (at the in­ten­sity of a soft shower).

- Give a full feed­ing with lots of de­li­cious hold­ing and rock­ing.

- When he fin­ishes, swaddle and rock him as long as you want.

But… when you place him in the crib – swad­dled and with the sound play­ing – jig­gle him to wake him up a tiny bit. When you rouse your in­fant af­ter a good feed, his lit­tle eyes will open for a sec­ond or two and then he will slide back into dream­land.

If he keeps fuss­ing, pick him back up to calm him, but be sure to wake him a tiny bit again when you put him back down.

You’re prob­a­bly think­ing: “Are you out of your mind? There’s no way I’m go­ing to wake my sleep­ing baby!” But, this is one of the most im­por­tant tips I can teach you. Even a few sec­onds of drowsy wak­ing will be­gin to teach your baby how to self-soothe.

Within a few weeks, you will get a huge re­ward: As long as he’s not hun­gry or un­com­fort­able, he’ll of­ten be able to slide back into sleep on his own.

Can you hear that? My sweetie is snor­ing. He must be in deep sleep.

DR PANG No, no, no. Snor­ing is sign of sleep ap­noea. This is when the child doesn’t get enough oxy­gen, which may lead to poor con­cen­tra­tion, short at­ten­tion span, hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­ders and even brain dam­age.

Check if his mouth is open while asleep – his nose pas­sage may be blocked. High­light this to his doc­tor.

Is it okay to bring Baby into our bed?

DR TOH As a pae­di­a­tri­cian, I’ve never en­cour­aged bed shar­ing. I was a med­i­cal of­fi­cer in the Ac­ci­dent and Emer­gency Depart­ment and, one night, a fran­tic fa­ther rushed a life­less in­fant into the emer­gency room and begged us to re­vive the child.

The child never made it. It was a tragic story of the dad wak­ing up and find­ing the in­fant pinned un­der him.

The health au­thor­i­ties and gov­ern­ment bod­ies ad­vis­ing against bed shar­ing have sparked heated de­bate in re­cent years. Those who are in favour of this prac­tice cite in­creas­ing suc­cess at breast­feed­ing, es­pe­cially be­yond six months.

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