The importance of encouraging a healthy sleeping pattern in young children

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Nathaniel gets a boost of energy he can use in his waking life, aside from the food that he eats, from the quality of his sleep.

Sleep is an important part of your children’s life. It is a natural function of the body which can help a lot in the growth and development as it was during sleep when the body’s ability to repair broken tissues and where cellular growth and production is at its peak.  When he gets enough sleep at night, he feels happy and gay during the day.

By the time Nathaniel reaches six months old, sleeping patterns became a bit of an issue between him and us—his parents. He wakes up in the middle of the night or several times at dawn while we were in the deepest of our sleep and when he falls to sleep again it will be our waking hour already or it  would be difficult for us to fall back to sleep again. It would leave us feeling exhausted and tired in the morning, but that’s something we have to endure and get along.

I know that, just like all of us, any disruptions with his evening sleep can greatly affect his daytime behavior. Prior to six months, his sleeping pattern was well established. He would average ten to twelve hours of sleep each night except when he gets sick.

WHY BABIES WAKE AT NIGHT

During the first few days after Nathaniel’s birth, I had no idea why he suddenly wakes up at night and this was often accompanied by a cry, a sob, and then by a sudden scream. All I thought then was that it was just normal for him or for any babies to suddenly wake up and that there was nothing to worry about it. It was like that in the first few days until I found out it was his mother’s milk he was looking for.

Hunger was the most common reason why a baby suddenly wakes up at night and cry. The only way he can communicate to us during such unholy hours of the night was through crying and he always succeeded in getting our attention for that matter. There were times when I found myself watching my behalf breastfeeding our baby boy, in the middle of the night, with half-closed eyes.

Teething was another reason. You will find him feeling irritable during daytime and uncomfortable even in his sleep. Increased salivation and fever can usually accompany the eruption of the tooth. It is important to note that teething is not a disease as what some parents may believe, but a condition of growth.

The third reason was sleeping for more than three hours in the afternoon. It was actually a late afternoon nap prolonged for some reasons. It is advisable to drop the full nap and move to a catnap. Any changes in your baby’s daytime routine can directly affect his nighttime sleep.

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Nathaniel was one day old in this picture.

When your baby needs a diaper change, it’s a natural reaction on his part to get his parent’s attention for that matter. It can disrupt his nighttime sleep, too. A noisy neighborhood and uncomfortable environment may be contributing a lot or in part to his having a disrupted sleeping pattern as well.

PARENTS DECIDE WHEN THE NAP STARTS AND ENDS

Your baby needs a daytime rest or nap, even when he gets enough sleep at night, for optimal development. It is wrong to assume about it as an option based upon his wants. When it’s time to take a nap, he simply goes down.

The habits that your child developed in his first year of life will be crucially important for him to have the ability taking a nap. His sleep behavior though, unlike feeding patterns, varies a lot and this has something to do with individual differences. It is for the parents to find out and know what the reasons were behind their baby waking up crying or cranky.

FIRST-TIME OBEDIENCE

You can never underestimate the importance of subjecting your child to first-time obedience as this will greatly facilitate any positive transitions he may undergo. Like in moving your child from a crib to a bed, for example, which usually takes place in the toddler phase of development, parents may simply ignore first-time obedience during the day only to make instructions to stay in bed at night or during naps powerless.

The point is to not only put your child in a bed but to have him stay there comfortably the whole time.

While this transition may have something to do with freedom, you only have your word to keep him there. However, you can do something to make this transition as smooth for you and as exciting for your child as possible.

HELP YOUR CHILD LEARNS TO FALL BACK TO SLEEP AGAIN HIMSELF

Learning from my own experience, it is uncommon for pre-toddlers to nap less than forty minutes. I was having no issue about that with my son. In fact, he sleeps a lot and that’s a good thing for a baby of his age I guess.

What I was a little concerned about though, when Nathaniel reaches six months old, was about him suddenly waking up in the middle of his sleep and it takes him longer to fall back to sleep again. Sometimes, he would even give us the hint about him being ready to get up. Lessons learned: it is advisable not to get him up.

The root cause for that could be a combination of a lot of things and that seems to be normal in the pre-toddler phase of development. It does not have to matter what’s causing all of that, but he needs to learn how to fall back to sleep again himself. Do not allow his curiosity control his sleep patterns.

POINTS TO PONDER

The amount of sleep a child needs as he grows up will gradually decline, but not the quality of his sleep. It is your duty as a parent to provide your child with the right training that develops his natural ability and capacity to sleep through the night. With the combination of having a proactive mindset for parenting and common sense, no sleep challenge your child has that you can never overcome.

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