Almost every parent will have to deal with it sooner or later: your baby has trouble sleeping. Your baby cannot find peace, finds it difficult to fall asleep in the crib or does not sleep well. What can you do as a parent? Read in this article how sleep depends on all kinds of factors and discover useful tips to create the ideal conditions for sleep.
We cannot emphasize enough that every child is different, so unfortunately the best tips or the ideal product for good sleep do not exist. What all children have in common is that they undergo enormous development in the first 12 months. Your baby not only grows enormously in height and weight, but also in actions and thoughts. Within just 1 year, your baby can suddenly:
- grabbing things
- waving, clapping and pointing
- eat solid food
- sitting, standing and crawling - maybe even walking
- recognize relationships between objects
- categorize things
- understand what you say
After the first year, your baby will have worn about 2,000 diapers. What a lot of experiences and new things! It is therefore not surprising that your baby occasionally has difficulties, especially in the beginning or during a jump. It's all for a good cause: your baby is learning and growing.
Symptoms and causes of poor sleep
By far the most common advice to help your baby sleep better is swaddling. Swaddling has been practiced for centuries in many different cultures, but as well as its advantages, it also has many disadvantages. If you want to know more about this, read the article “The pros and cons of swaddling”. It is important to know that swaddling mainly suppresses the symptoms of restlessness: your child can no longer move his or her arms uncontrollably, so that he or she no longer wakes up. Swaddling creates a fixed pattern and a persistent sleep association.
Treating the symptoms is effective, but it is wise to also look at the cause of the unrest. This way you can partly prevent your child from becoming restless, which will automatically reduce the symptoms. Let's zoom in on what exactly you can do to create the ideal conditions for sleep.
Newborns (0 - 4 months)
In this phase your baby has to get used to life outside the womb. This is what you can do to help your child:
- Give your baby the familiar womb feeling in bed. It is normal that your baby sleeps best near you. He's used to that! Therefore, give your child the familiar, safe and secure feeling of the womb by hugging tightly or tucking it in tightly. Tip: the award-winning NUNKI sheet has been specially developed to give the womb feeling in bed. The sheet cannot come loose, so your baby experiences that nice, safe and secure feeling throughout the entire nap.
- As few stimuli as possible. Everything is new for a newborn baby. Protect your child against overstimulation and start de-stimulating half an hour before bedtime.
- Create peace & regularity. Follow a fixed structure with feeding and naps, based on your baby's rhythm. Read more about rest & regularity schedules for babies.
- Recognize fatigue signals. Pay close attention to signs that your baby is tired, such as looking away, becoming fussier and moving jerkily. Once you recognize these signals, it is time to start the bedtime ritual.
- Pay attention to wake times. Take care of your newborn maximum is awake for 1 to 1.5 hours, then it is time for the next nap. You can increase this to a maximum of 2 hours after a month or 2.
- Pay attention to daylight and the production of melatonin. Go outside with your baby in the morning and make sure it is dark in the evening. This way your baby learns the difference between day and night, so that he produces melatonin at the right times and becomes sleepy..
- Be patient. This is the most difficult tip, but perhaps also the most important! Everything is new for your baby. So give your child time to get used to it.
Babies from 4 months
Your child is now slowly getting used to structure and sleep associations play an important role. This is how you create the ideal sleeping conditions for a baby older than 4 months:
- Pay attention to wake times. Make sure your child is not awake longer than the night before maximum age-appropriate wake time. The older your baby gets, the longer he can stay awake. A 4-month-old baby can be awake for 1 to 2 hours and you can slowly build this up to 3 to 4 hours at 12 months old.
- Recognize fatigue signals. When your child is tired, he often becomes busy, moves jerkily and will look away more often. Recognize the signals of fatigue and start your bedtime ritual immediately, even if it deviates slightly from your schedule.
- Take care of all basic needs. Provide your child with sufficient basic needs during the day, such as nutrition, touch, closeness, cuddling, playing, laughing and connecting. This way, your child is satisfied and can surrender to sleep more easily.
- Create the ideal place to sleep. Provide a dark and irritating place to sleep, where the temperature is around 18 degrees.
- Have a fixed sleep ritual. Create a fixed sleep ritual that makes going to bed predictable, for example with a baby massage, patting on the back, singing a song or tucking the baby in tightly. NUNKI sheet. What exactly you do and in what order is actually less important, as long as it is recognizable to your baby.
- Understand that your child needs time to build trust. Give your child the opportunity to gradually gain more confidence in going to bed and sleeping without help from mom or dad. Don't force this, but follow your child's pace to slowly build up this trust..
Too overstimulated to sleep?
If your baby is too overstimulated or upset to sleep, go to a quiet, dark place and stay with your child. Take the time for your baby and let him or her cry in your arms. Provide the closeness and comfort your child needs. Listen and encourage your child to vent and tell a story. It is important to give your baby the feeling that he is not alone, so that a good basis is created for gaining confidence in sleeping independently.n.
Good luck! You got this.
Ik ben Frederieke, getrouwd met Ewoud en mama van 4 kindjes. Na op veel plekken gewoond te hebben, ben ik gesetteld in Nieuwkoop. Ik werkte in de commercie tot mijn vierde kindje geboren werd. Fedde was een huilbaby en vanuit deze wanhoop heb ik de producten van Fedde&Kees bedacht. Ik gooide mijn leven om en begon met ondernemen. Sinds 2018 help ik andere ouders naar een betere slaap!