What are the top three reasons an infant’s sleep can be disturbed? And what are some things parents can do about it?
· Problem: Immature sleep cycles. One upside of life with an infant is that most newborns do not have trouble falling asleep. The downside is that they do not generally stay asleep for very long stretches. By three months of age, more regular sleep rhythms start kicking in but until then babies are incapable of deep sleep and some do not sleep for more than a few hours, even at night.
· Fix: White noise can help some babies sleep longer by blocking out noises (doorbell ringing, door slamming) that can wake them from lighter sleep stages.
· Problem: Feeding too frequently. A newborn’s sleep-wake pattern is largely dictated by hunger. Meaning they wake to eat.
· Fix: After the first few weeks, try to space out feedings to approximately every three hours. Measure from when a feed starts, not finishes (since some babies take a long time to eat). This can help get eating and sleeping on a schedule and help babies sleep in longer stretches at night.
· Problem: GI issues. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which stomach contents, liquid or solid, leak back from the stomach into the esophagus, causing irritation, heartburn and other symptoms. It can be painful and if not managed, lead to discomfort – day and night.
· Fix: Some GI issues work themselves out as your baby’ moves from newborn to infant. If your child appears in pain, or if the pain starts suddenly, speak with your doctor about your child’s symptoms. When properly managed by your physician your baby can learn to sleep independently.