FAQs on Breastfeeding: Sleep problems in the first few months

FAQs on Breastfeeding: Sleep problems in the first few months

A newborn's sleep period begins with drowsiness, leading to light sleep, and followed by deep sleep. A baby is likely to wake up more easily from a light sleep. A mother may put a child passing through this stage of sleep down on the bed with the impression that he has gone to sleep, but he is likely to get up soon after and start crying because he has not yet gone into a state of deep sleep. Therefore, it is important that we continue to give the child body contact till he crosses the barrier of light sleep and moves into the realm of deep sleep.

The good news is that those mothers who respond promptly to baby's needs in the first few months are rewarded in the long run. As they grow older, babies thus reared are quieter, calmer and more secure compared to babies who are left to cry. They start trusting people around them, which helps in personality development.

The so-called three month' colic is another problem that bothers quite a few babies in their early months.

After having made the point that a crying baby should not be left crying, I must sympathise with mothers who have to spend sleepless nights in this process.


The following guidelines might be found helpful:

1. Get into the habit of sleeping while the baby sleeps, as mentioned earlier.

2. Do not switch on the lights when the child gets up at night. The idea is to gradually let him learn that nights are meant for sleeping and not for playing. Feed him in laying position if he is hungry. Pat him to sleep if he is just squirming. Give him body contact if he has moved away from you.

3. Do not get up to burrp the child. Raise him while you are lying down. Let him lean against you to burp. If he does not oblige, do not worry. Quite a few babies can manage without burping. If you are still concerned, let him lie on his right side; in this position, the child is more likely to burp on his own.

4. If a child has wet his diaper, see if he can remain asleep without it being changed. After the first few weeks, quite a few babies can tolerate a wet diaper without getting upset and without getting diaper rash. If the baby does get annoyed or if the whole bed gets wet, try putting a double diaper on him. Tie it firmly. This may work. If not, keep such diapers handy which do not need to be pinned and can be tied easily in the dark. The important rule is not to spend too much time in changing the diaper so that both you and the baby can go back to sleep as soon as possible.

5. All noises do not wake up a child. Many babies sleep quite well with some background music or human conversation. Of course, sudden loud noises may startle them, especially if they are in a period of 'light sleep'.

Source: Book - Guide to Child Care - by Dr R K Anand

To consult Dr R K Anand in person, click here

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