Nap and sleep time seems to be the most problematic issue parents talk about. After all, we all need our sleep, parents included. The bottom line is that there is no product or program that will magically make your child sleep well. And, the reality is that children have different sleep dispositions. There are babies who will settle easily and sleep a lot, and then there are those who struggle to settle and aren’t as “sleepy”.
So, where does this leave the parent? Are we just at the mercy of our children? How do we survive those first few years of our little one’s lives if we don’t get the sleep we need? As first time parents, it can be daunting if you don’t know what’s ahead of you and how long you will have to deal with your own sleep deprivation. So, here’s what you can expect:
KNOW WHAT LIES AHEAD
As first-time parents it’s hard to know what to expect. Seeing the big picture can help you in terms of dealing with struggles and trying methods to get you through to the end goal.
From newborns to toddlers, there are stages. Your newborn will sleep a lot, most of the day actually. Over the next few months, they will start to form sleeping and eating habits. They’ll start sleeping longer at night and will be cutting out daytime naps.
By the time your little one is four to six months old, you might find they are napping around three times a day and are sleeping through the night. Eventually, they will drop the third nap. Many children will still have two naps a day well past their 1st birthday and drop down to one nap a day sometime after 18 months of age or older. Depending on your child, they may still need a daytime nap for several years.
YOU CAN HELP OR HINDER YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP
An important truth to recognise is that you can help or hinder your child’s sleep. Again, think of your own sleep and how it is impacted by different things.
Infants can get overstimulated very easily and this can lead to difficulties in settling. Is their sleeping area filled with bright pictures and toys that might hinder their ability to settle? Are they warm enough, cool enough, do they have a full tummy?
As they get older, are they getting enough outside time and running around time? Is there routine in their day to help their little body clocks tick along on queue? Are the activities before nap time calming them down or hyping them up?
People have different opinions about sleeping through the night and co-sleeping, just like people differ on things like demand feeding and all kinds of other parenting matters. It’s polite to respect each other’s opinions and stay on course with what you believe to be right for your family.
At the end of the day, there is no argument about the importance of sleep. Our children’s bodies grow and repair themselves while sleeping. Their brain also sorts and processes information. Even their appetite is affected by their sleep. And, should you desire, you can create a routine and environment that is conducive to good sleep patterns.