Today I am running a workshop for HRP Mamas in New York City to discuss sleep during the first six months. I am sure we will discuss much more, but I wanted to share with you the content that we will be covering.
Sleep matures, so infant sleep is very different than baby sleep. Most infants are very infant like until they are closer to 3 to 4 months. (And baby sleep is very different than toddler sleep, and toddler sleep is very different from school age children sleep, and so on….)
There are two kinds of sleep: REM and Non REM. Both are essential to development. REM is highly choppy sleep - lots of brain activity and movement, and Non REM sleep is deeper, more solid.
You need to do a lot of work for your infant when he is in the lighter sleep cycles or use props to keep his sleeping during these cycles. Non REM is a walk in the park compared to REM.
Swaddling and white noise (and a very dark room) help immensely.
You might need to use movement, your skin, your motion to help your infant bridge choppy sleep cycles. Napping can be really tricky until you are baby has developed daytime melatonin production (between 4-6 months).
Around 3 to 4 months, your infant begins to act more like a baby. They can handle a little more stimulation, can socialize more, and are ready to begin to learn how to soothe themselves.
Babies soothe themselves by moving and sucking — and informed, organized/scheduled sleep training and can give your baby the chance to figure out his way to sleep.
Schedules are important and patterns/routines are even more important. An infant should feed when hungry, and you should help him sleep when tired. He will start to tell you when he is tired and when he is hungry. Ideally you can start to separate the eating and sleeping during the day around 3 to 4 months.
If you can’t get good naps and/or nights, start with a fair feeding schedule. Work on naps in between each feeding. This will help your baby naturally separate eating and sleeping.
After you have mastered this, you can start to separate eating and sleeping at bedtime, and then from there tackle night feedings — some babies still need to eat at night after 4 months. It depends on how they eat, their belly size, etc.