Monday, November 09, 2009

Tips to Help Develop Natural Sleep Patterns in Babies

As someone who writes about parenting a lot, one of the most frequent questions I get is how to get babies to sleep better. This is always a tough question because every baby is different and responds to different techniques. Sometimes, a little experimentation is necessary. Similac Advance EarlyShield infant formula recently sent me these tips for encouraging natural sleep patterns in babies. It was written by Barbara Dehn, RN, MS, NP, also known as “Nurse Barb.” She is an award-winning author and nationally recognized health expert who regularly speaks on a wide range of women’s topics. Following are her terrific tips:

• One of the first things I always tell new moms is to lose the guilt! It’s inevitable for new parents to feel nervous, unsure and often guilty when caring for their infant – especially when it comes to sleep. I’m constantly reassuring both moms and dads to go with their gut feeling on all fronts and follow their infant’s lead. If your newborn tends to fall asleep in his swing or rocker – go with it! Not allowing yourself to feel guilty during the first few months will only help your baby acclimate to a schedule. Typically, confidence and a bit of relaxation will follow.

• Moms can maintain their baby’s natural sleep patterns and overall health with a proper feeding schedule. By establishing both day and night feeding routines that follow your infant’s natural hunger cues, you are helping your baby receive the nourishment that will support growth and development. When my patients ask about feeding with formula, I recommend Similac, which offers a wide range of specialized formulas and products all designed to support baby’s natural growth and development process by providing excellent nutrition no matter what time of day or night.

• Try to remain cool, calm and collected during the first few months of your baby’s life. Infants’ are on sensory overdrive and are attuned to both anxiety and fear. Mood, touch and sound are all stimulators and can interrupt your newborn’s sleep cycle. Keeping a calm atmosphere can help your baby find his natural sleep cycle.

• I often tell new moms to turn off the TV! Feeding time is often a good opportunity for mom to kick up her feet and unwind. Use this time to connect with your baby and avoid your regular relaxation routine like flipping on the TV. The light and noise can distract your newborn and interrupt his eating.

• Bath time does not always need to take place before bedtime. Some infants are extremely agitated from a bath, regardless of the calming scents, soft sounds and soothing touch you use. If you notice your baby is relaxed and calm without a bath before bedtime, go with it! Changing the bath time routine can make the overall experience more enjoyable for both mom and baby. This can also help your newborn develop daytime and nighttime routines.

DISCLOSURE: I received an assortment of gift items from Similac as a thank-you for sharing these valuable tips with you.


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