Teach your baby healthy sleep associations

By Drum Digital
03 July 2014

Your baby is only a few weeks old and suddenly their sleep pattern changes drastically. Exhaustion and confusion at this turn of events can make a mother desperate for sound advice! And that’s exactly what we have for you.

Being the mother of a young baby is no easy feat. At only a few weeks old, they’re still adapting to the world outside the womb and are constantly changing and learning new things about their environment. This means their sleeping patterns are often influenced by these factors and establishing a sleep routine could prove to be a nightmare (no pun intended).

A SuperMom in our Facebook community asked for our help with her nine-week-old son: “From the start he would fall asleep by himself after his bottle, while I was still rubbing out winds.  But now he doesn’t want to sleep in his cot at all. We sit with him into the night and just as he falls asleep and I put him down in the cot, he starts kicking and swinging his arms and then he’s awake. What can I do? I’ve got another son who is one year old, so I’m really tired at this point.”

Jacqui Flint is a sleep expert and owner of Baby Love & Toddler Love, a nationwide company specialising in routine and sleep guidance programmes geared towards parents of babies and toddlers four years and younger. She says if you want to avoid unhealthy sleep associations, such as a baby only sleeping if someone is rocking them to sleep, our reader should consider these four techniques:

  • Put him in his cot before he gets tired. “The age-appropriate awake time for a nine-week-old shouldn’t be more than one hour and if he is awake for longer than that, he will go into overstimulation and then be hyperalert.” She says once a baby reaches a point of hyperalertness, it’s difficult to put them down and expect them to fall asleep unassisted. “Don’t wait for him to rub his eyes, try and put him down about five minutes before the hour is up.”
  • Put on a sleep attitude. “Leading up to putting him down, say his name, drop your tone of voice and try not to make eye contact as that can stimulate some babies. Tell him it is sleep time.”  She says this behaviour sets the stage for sleep and gives him a chance to mentally and physically wind down from his age-appropriate awake time.
  • Make the cot his space. “Try and put him in his cot awake as much as you can so that he learns that this is his space in which to fall asleep and that he learns to self-soothe and fall asleep unassisted.”
  • Create a healthy sleep association. “A dummy and/or a blankie are advisable, but should only be given at sleeptime in order to create healthy sleep associations.”

 -Dalena Theron

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