Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sleep Solutions for Babies

6 Ways to Establish a Blissful Baby Bedtime Routine
You've heard that bedtime routines will help lull your little one off to the land of Nod, but do you know how to start one? These tips will help you set the stage for sleep.

Just like many newbie moms, you’ve likely done your fair share of talking to experienced parents about baby sleep — and you’ve probably gotten an earful about how establishing a bedtime routine is key to instilling good sleep habits in your baby. And it’s true! A calming bedtime routine that follows a predictable pattern every night helps give your baby a heads-up that it’s time to put her little head down, which in turn helps her nod off more easily. What’s more, a bedtime routine is a wonderful way to bond with your little bundle at the end of a long day. After all, the time spent snuggling, singing lullabies, and quietly reading are some of the coziest — and calmest — you’ll get to spend with your precious peanut. So now that you’ve gotten the memo about the importance of establishing a comfortable bedtime routine, how exactly do you go about making it happen? To help you transition your baby into surefire sleep mode, keep these tips in mind:

1.) Don’t start a bedtime routine right away. No need to impose a sleep schedule on your newborn as soon as you bring her home. Your adorable bundle will likely sleep a lot those first few days. After all, she has to recover from the effort of being born (and truthfully, you’ll need to recover, too — so take advantage and catch up on your z’s now, while you can). Unfortunately, all that newborn sleep won’t come in long stretches of hours (sorry to say) because newborn eating — which will happen every two to three hours — takes precedence over a sleep schedule now. The fact is, it’ll probably be a few weeks before a pattern emerges (whatever it may be) to your newborn’s sleep. When it does...

2.) Observe your baby’s sleep tendencies. Before you bust out with a bedtime routine, get a sense of when your baby usually goes to sleep for her longest stretch of the night (keeping a sleep log can often help with this). Once you figure out when your little one’s longest snooze is (you’ll be lucky if your baby sleeps five hours in a row during these early months), you can start to time your bedtime routine in advance of that. For example, if your baby tends to sleep her longest stretch from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., aim to start fitting in a bedtime routine around 7:15 or 7:30 p.m.

3.) Start slowly. When you determine that you’re ready to start incorporating a bedtime routine into your baby’s life, slowly, over the next month or so, introduce the nighttime rituals that you want to be part of the mix. Tried-and-true bedtime charms include a soothing bath, gentle infant massages, a cuddly feeding (whether it’s from the breast or the bottle), reading a book or two, and singing lullabies (the songs and stories help your baby learn to take comfort in your voice, while the rhythm of your words will encourage her to drift off to sleep — especially when combined with cozy cuddles). Whichever rituals you choose to include, be consistent, and in time, your little sweetie will learn to equate those things with bedtime.

4.) Try to master the drowsy baby drop-off. At the end of your bedtime routine, if you can swing it, try to put your sleepy bundle down while she’s drowsy — but not actually asleep — so she gets used to falling asleep on her own (and not in your arms). This will make your life a lot easier when your baby is older, since you won’t have to spend hours (yes, it can take that long!) rocking or singing your sleepyhead off to dreamland. Plus, if your little one learns how to put herself to sleep at the beginning of the night, she should know how to put herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night (and wouldn’t that be nice!). It’s true that the drowsy baby tuck-in doesn’t work for every infant, but it’s well worth giving it a shot — and trying it over and over again, too!

5.) Abbreviate the routine during the day. In time you may likely find that your nighttime routine works just as well for naptime (in a modified form) as it does at bedtime. Take advantage of the sleep cues your baby knows and incorporate them into her before-nap pattern. While you probably don’t want to take the time or the effort to do a major bath or full-body massage, you may very well want to read a story or two or sing a song to help your cutie transition to naptime more easily.

6.) Adapt the bedtime routine if needed. While it’s important to be consistent with your baby’s bedtime routine while you’re establishing one, it’s equally important to be conscious of your growing baby’s changing needs as time goes on. For instance, as your baby gets older, bathtime before bed may turn into a rowdy activity instead of a calming one (once she learns to splash there may be no stopping her!); in that case, you’d ditch the tub and skip straight to a massage. Or if your baby starts to consistently fall asleep while you’re nursing or bottle feeding her without fueling up enough for the night, switch her before-bed snack to earlier in the bedtime routine. A little trial and error along the way can help you figure out a bedtime routine that will continue to work for your baby — and send her off to sleep feeling safe, secure, and loved.

Giving Water to a Baby

What a difference a few weeks make! You probably feel more like a seasoned pro than a fumbling first-timer. You can burp your baby with the best of them, and feedings aren’t as fraught with anxiety as they were just a mere month ago. And you’ve probably also gotten pretty adept at ignoring all the (uninvited) baby advice of strangers (or relatives!) that you don’t need (with a smile, of course). Despite your newfound confidence (at least on your good days), it’s hard not to fall prey to other people’s suggestions when you’re not sure of the information. So, if your mom or mother-in-law advises you to give your infant extra water (“She’ll get dehydrated in the hot sun without it!”), and you’re unsure about the latest advice on giving water to a baby, you may be tempted to give it a try. Here’s why you should turn away from the temptation:

Breast milk or formula is enough for young babies. Despite what well-meaning family members might say, experts now know that until your baby starts eating solid foods, infants get all the water they need from breast milk or formula. That’s right — both breast milk and/or formula will keep your infant plenty hydrated, even on steamy summer days when you might be wondering if you should offer your little hottie a cool sip of water. The only exception to the rule about not giving water to a baby this age is if the infant is sick and is losing fluids due to diarrhea or vomiting. (But ask your pediatrician about this first.)

Giving water to a baby can actually harm her. Unless she’s very sick, a baby who satisfies her appetite (and her need to suck) with bottles of water will miss out on the nutrition she needs from her feedings. If done regularly, this can cause weight loss, and in the case of breast-fed babies, it can decrease your breast-milk supply. Giving water to a baby in large amounts can even lead to oral water intoxication, a condition in which the electrolytes (such as sodium) in a baby’s bloodstream become diluted, inhibiting normal bodily functions and leading to dangerous problems such as low body temperature or seizures.

Just say no to juice too. Not only will it fill up your infant’s tiny tummy (leaving no room for milk), but also the sugar in juice can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea in young babies.

When can you start giving water to a baby, then? Most experts suggest that you wait until you’ve started feeding solids to your baby, when she’s between four and six months old. At that point, you can talk with your pediatrician about how much H2O to serve up to your little one. As for juice, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you hold off until your baby is six months old, and then, that you limit the quantity to four ounces a day. To make sure you don’t overdo it on juice (and that you don’t decay your tot’s few teeth), dilute it with water (half-and-half anyone?), and avoid giving the sweet stuff to your sweetie right before bed. But for now, though, just stick with breast milk or formula.

My Bundle of Joy is finally here!!!

After 41 weeks of waiting, my baby boy is finally here!
I've been so busy and exhausted but couldn't be happier!


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