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Entries in infant sleep (4)


Safety Alert: Safe Sleep for Infants

Back to Sleep. The slogan that started back in 1992 has drastically decreased infant mortality rates due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Despite the campaign, however, children still die from SIDS-related events that are preventable.

I wanted to share this excellent video from the Tennessee Department of Health about this important subject. Thanks to Dr. Michael Warren, a friend of mine from Vanderbilt, for allowing me to share it with you!

To put it simply, always follow the ABC’s of safe sleep for infants, meaning that babies should always sleep:

A: Alone

B: on their Back

C: in a Crib 

Other helpful sleep tips to reduce the risk of SIDS:

  • Avoid co-sleeping
  • Remove stuffed animals, extra blankets, and pillows from the crib. It is OK to swaddle (see Dr. Brown’s post here), but there’s no need for extra “stuff” in the crib!
  • Use a firm crib mattress
  • Although they’re cute, remove bumpers from the crib, as they pose an extra suffocation risk
  • Breastfeed if possible and consider using pacifiers when sleeping, as both have been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS
  • Avoid exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Avoid overheating; a general rule of thumb is that infants may need one light layer more than what you may require at night

Keep these tips in mind as you tuck your little one in at night!


Practical Parenting: Sleep Solutions for Young Infants

During the first week of life, infants sleep 16-18 hours each day with sleep periods of 2-4 hours being equally spaced throughout the day and night.  Between weeks 2-12, the total daily sleep duration decreases to approximately 15 hours per day.  By 4 months of age, most babies are capable of "sleeping through the night" which experts agree means they can sleep a 6-8 hour stretch.

For the first few months of their lives, babies sleep A LOT!  For most infants, around the time they develop their "social smile" usually around 6 weeks of life (or 6 weeks from their due date for babies that are born early) is when "social learning" begins and also when babies are neurodevelopmentally able to regulate their sleep patterns.

"People have a genetic timing mechanism in their brain that controls sleep, and it takes time for that mechanism to develop," explains Marc Weissbluth, MD, professor of clinical pediatrics at Northwestern University's School of Medicine, and author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (one of Dr. Brown's favorite sleep books). "Think of it like eye color: Babies are born with a genetic predisposition to a certain eye color, but it takes time for that color to be expressed."

Before this 6-8 week mark, let your babies sleep however and whenever they want to sleep.  Don't expect predictable sleep schedules and don't stress over trying to enforce a certain schedule.  And a word of advice for those of you whose child amazing sleeps for long stretches at a time starting sometime before the 6-8 week mark....realize that you are one of the fortunate few, count your lucky stars (and be very careful about who you choose to share this wonderful news with, lest your friends find themselves resenting your good fortune)!

The 2-4 month period is a perfect time to work on establishing a sleep schedule (or "sleep training" as many call it). Indeed, countless books have been written on the subject, each touting a certain step-wise approach to get your baby to sleep well.  My opinion is that there is no one way to teach a baby to sleep.  Every baby is different with differing home environments, different temperments, etc. 

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FYI: Hip Healthy Swaddling 

When my toddler was a newborn, swaddling was a must in our house.  It soothed him virtually instantly and  helped him sleep for longer stretches at a time (see adorable photo below).  

But like most things, there is a right and a wrong way to swaddle.

The "right way" can have miraculous effects and has long been encouraged by pediatricians.  The cozy feeling of the snug blanket wrapped around the baby’s body resembles the mother’s womb. Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician and author of the acclaimed book "The Happiest Baby on the Block," encourages swaddeling as one of his "5 S's" soothing methods designed to calm even colicky babies. And numerous studies have shown that swaddeled babies cry less, sleep for longer stretches, and (if done correctly with a swaddled baby placed on its back) may even decrease the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The wrong way to swaddle, involves tightly wrapping both

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In the News: Sleep Training for Infants

There are a million books on the market designed to help you get your infant to sleep better at night. Why are there so many? Because there isn’t a right answer! Finding the right sleep technique depends a lot on your baby’s personality as well as your own. That being said, sleep is vital for daily functioning for both you AND your baby, so it is important to try to establish a good sleep routine in your home for everyone. Most babies are able to sleep longer stretches at 4-6 months, and this is usually a good time to consider implementing some sleep strategies to get some more zzzzz’s!

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