Helping babies sleep at night

Her Baby Stuff – guest post
By Sara Chana, IBCLC

Helping babies sleep at night

Once a woman finally gives birth, and feels as if the worst is now behind her, she is suddenly shocked to learn that her newborn isn’t quite in sync with her when it comes to distinguishing the difference between day and night. Perhaps out of frustration, maybe from confusion, most women ask, “Why is this happening”? The answer is really simple. During pregnancy, when a woman is up and moving about during the day, running her errands or working, her body acts as a swing, gently rocking her unborn baby back and forth, promoting sleep. However, at night, as the pregnant woman sleeps and the baby’s swing stops, it is then when babies usually wake up.

Most women will attest to the fact that as they finally lay down in an attempt to sleep, the baby in their tummy usually gets up and begins to kick. After birth, babies who have become accustom to this day time sleeping and this night time kicking, have trouble adjusting to their parents’ schedules. Normally it will take a few weeks for the average baby to get used to its new surroundings and the family schedule. So during this period, parents need to be patient and perhaps for the first few weeks, nap with their babies during the day.

As a baby begins to observe and learn about her surroundings, she will start to feel the difference between the active energy of the day and the restfulness of the night. Apart from of all that has been said, it is important to realize that in order to grow properly, babies eat every one to three hours, on a twenty-four hour schedule, which of course includes the night. As exhausting as this is for most moms, she should know that she receives many benefits by nursing her baby throughout the night.

One such benefit experienced by woman all over the world, who breastfeed their babies throughout the night, is the pushing off their menstruation. It appears that the night breastfeeding is key in preventing her period. Often women will not regain a regular menstrual cycle for at least six months, while others will not resume their cycle till the baby turns eighteen months of age.

Although a majority of breastfed babies will nurse throughout the night up until the age of two, I believe that when women realize that it is normal and healthy for a baby to nurse through the night, and they see their babies thriving and happy, most women will make peace with a little sleep deprivation. (Besides, my advice to you is, just wait till the teen years…..that’s when parents really become sleep deprived!).

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