One of the most common anticipated challenges that expectant parents express at our antenatal class dedicated to life beyond birth is that of lack of sleep and disturbed nights.
Over the years there is more science and research that leads to new understanding and suggestions for parents when considering how to care for their baby in relation to supporting sleep.
I have purchased The Care it Out sleep packages by Kerry Secker and I love lots of her thoughts and ideas. I recommend that you check out her website and e-courses.
There are two important hormones to consider – melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, is minimal till your baby is around 6 months old. At this time, the circadian rhythm kicks in, meaning that naps become more consistent and longer, plus nights are more settled.
Controlling cortisol, the stress hormone, is important. This hormone is produced in your baby when they get over-tired. It has lots of detrimental affects on your baby’s ability to fall off to sleep and to remain settled for reasonable chunks of time.
Day time naps can be anywhere – on you, in the car seat when travelling, the pram or in their cot. Naps are key in preventing cortisol production and age appropriate ‘nap gaps’ are suggested by Kerry.
If sufficient daytime naps have occurred then this lays a sound foundation for a bedtime routine, that helps prepare your baby for their biologically best settled night.
It is key to remember that:
- Every baby is different and unique
- What is acceptable to one parent may not be do-able for another
- Trust your instincts! You know your baby better than anyone. If you are concerned, then seek appropriate help and responding to your baby’s needs never ‘spoils’ them