Sleeping baby: short guide to bedtime

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Catherine Le Nevez
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There are the (few) super-lucky ones: parents of children who, from the first weeks (or days!) Of life, sleep every night for five, six or more hours in a row.



And then there is the majority of "common" parents", who are woken up several times a night. In reality everything is normal: as explained by the perinatal psychologist Alessandra Bortolotti in the book The puppies do not sleep alone, in the first three to five years the nocturnal awakenings of children are physiological, obviously with different frequencies: a newborn will wake up more often than a one year old. "Fault" of the brain maturation processes, which are not yet complete and mean that, compared to an adult, a child spends more time in the REM phase of sleep, the one in which one dreams and is easier to wake up, and they pass more often from one phase to another, the which facilitates awakenings.



Other than that, they come into play individual variability (some children need less sleep than others to recharge) e the type of power supplyBreast milk digestion is faster than formula, so babies who are breastfed tend to wake up more often. (But be careful: babies don't automatically sleep more by switching to infant formula)

In this article

  • He sleeps, you sleep too,
  • To each his own way of making children sleep,
  • Many prejudices, few certainties,
  • Sids, here's how to prevent it.

He sleeps, you sleep too!

It may seem like little consolation, but already knowing that frequent awakenings are the norm can help: if you start out convinced that children can sleep for a long time, it becomes more difficult to adapt to reality. The fatigue, however, remains, and then it is good that, especially in the first weeks, the mother takes advantage of the baby's sleep to rest at her time, delegating as much as possible the indispensable chores, such as shopping and preparing meals.



To each his own way of making children sleep

What to do if the baby often wakes up at night? The theme is one of the most popular in manuals for new parents and the proposed approaches can be very different: from the gradual extinction of the problem (the so-called Estivill method), which involves letting the baby cry for increasing times, to the opposite advice to take it. in her arms and cuddle him, proposed for example in the book Besame Mucho by the pediatrician Charles Gonzales, according to which psychophysical contact is essential for the child. For some, the solution is to put the child in Latvian: a strategy practiced by many parents (even if they may refuse to admit it), supported by some experts, but strongly discouraged by others.



Many prejudices, few certainties

The truth is, there is no one magic recipe that works for everyone: each family must find its own way to "survive" complicated nights. The important thing is to be aware that many cultural prejudices and few scientific certainties weigh on this topic. It is true for example that some studies seem to show the effectiveness of the Estivill method, but they are studies conducted on small samples, and related to short periods. It is still not entirely clear what the effects and consequences of this rather stressful strategy could be in the long term. Conversely, Alessandra Bortolotti recalls, there are no studies to support the idea that a child who spends the first months (or years) in the Latvian - obviously in a safe situation, to avoid any possible risk of crushing or suffocation - will never be autonomous and independent.

What can affect children's sleep

Various factors can interfere with the sleep of babies, infants and children. For example: eruption of the teeth, individual sensitivity to noise, disease, insertion in the nursery or kindergarten, birth of a little brother or sister, excitement for reaching a stage of development, mother's return to work, high volume of electronic devices , presence in the house of "strangers" (unfamiliar friends or relatives), family tensions (screams and quarrels can scare them). 15 PHOTOS

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Sids, here's how to prevent it

SIDS, an acronym that comes from the English words for "sudden infant death syndrome", is the sudden death of a child without apparent cause between birth and one year of life. Also called "cot death", it is a rare but extremely tragic event, with as yet unknown causes. However, we know that some situations seem associated with a greater risk of cot death, and that some behaviors are able to significantly reduce the incidence. Let's see what they are.

1. Sleeping position

In the first months of life, the baby should always be put to sleep on his back. Even though he seems to prefer it, he tries to avoid making him sleep on his stomach or on his side.

2. Safe cot

The mattress must be firm and without a pillow and the cot must be clear: no adapters, bumpers, duvets, soft toys or games. If possible, also avoid blankets and sheets: a onesie is enough for bedtime. The ideal would be to let the baby sleep in the room with mum and dad (room sharing), but in a separate cot.

 

3. No smoke

Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for SIDS. The baby should not be exposed to smoke (from the mother, but also passive) either during pregnancy or after birth.

4. Fresh is best

The ideal bedroom temperature is 18-20 ° C. Remember that if you have a fever you may need to be covered less, not more.

5. Protective pacifier

It would seem to have a protective effect against SIDS, but it should still be introduced after the first month of life and "natural" (without immersing it in sweeteners). If your baby rejects it, don't force it, and if you lose it, don't put it back.

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A general consideration on sleeping methods

The one presented in this article is one of the many approaches or methods proposed by experts, mothers, nannies and so on to "help" the baby to sleep. The advice on the subject - certainly one of the hottest for moms and dads - is practically endless, but it is worth making some general considerations. 

 

To begin with, it should be considered that the nocturnal awakenings of children are physiological up to 3-5 years. Of course, there is someone who from an early age hardly ever wakes up during the night but it is quite "normal" that others take longer to regularize their sleep. Secondly, it must be said that generally these methods do not have a solid scientific basis, in the sense that they have not been subjected to rigorous studies that can confirm or not their efficacy and safety. Furthermore, some can be a source of great stress for children or parents. And if they are "one-size-fits-all" methods, they clearly do not respect the individuality of either children or adults. 

 

What to do then? First of all, try to have more confidence in your own skills as parents and, if you wish, rely on a method not because a friend said so or because it is fashionable, but because the family has assessed that, given the characteristics of a child and parents, could be a good attempt to improve everyone's sleep quality.

 

As * Franco Panizon, Del Paesena's master of pediatrics, pointed out, "I have always told mothers to ask me that there is no evidence either for or against one method over another. Everyone is at least authorized to go where it takes them. the heart: to ask oneself (and not a science of behavior) how to behave, without repentance and without fear of condemnation. (* from the Book of the bed by A. Ferrando, LSWR 2022 Editions)

text by Valentina Murelli

Questions and answers

What to do if the baby wakes up often during the night? 

The theme is one of the most popular in manuals for new parents and the proposed approaches can be very different: from the gradual extinction of the problem (the so-called Estivill method), which involves letting the baby cry for increasing times, to the opposite advice to take it. in her arms and cuddle him, proposed for example in the book Besame Mucho by the pediatrician Carlos Gonzales, according to whom psychophysical contact is essential for the child. For some, the solution is to put the child in Latvian: a strategy practiced by many parents (even if they may refuse to admit it), supported by some experts, but strongly discouraged by others.

What can affect the sleep of babies or children? 

Various factors can interfere with the sleep of babies, infants and children. For example: eruption of the teeth, individual sensitivity to noise, disease, insertion in the nursery or kindergarten, birth of a little brother or sister, excitement for reaching a stage of development, mother's return to work, high volume of electronic devices , presence in the house of "strangers" (unfamiliar friends or relatives), family tensions (screams and quarrels can scare them).

What is SIDS? 

SIDS, an acronym that comes from the English words for "sudden infant death syndrome", is the sudden death of a child without apparent cause between birth and one year of life. Also called "cot death", it is a rare but extremely tragic event, with as yet unknown causes. 

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