Finding and adopting a regular sleep pattern is important for a baby's healthy growth and physical and emotional development.
To help your baby sleep through the night, it is first essential to know the sleep patterns of babies and some of the habits they exhibit. In fact, unlike adults, babies do not have a 7 or 12 hour sleep pattern like adults but develop their own as they grow during the first 3 years of life. After birth, it's not until they're 6 months old that babies can typically sleep 5 to 7 hours straight without waking up. To the parents' credit.
During early childhood, nocturnal awakenings accompanied by crying are quite frequent and should not be considered as disturbances in the child's sleep but as an expression of discomfort and the need to draw attention to oneself. The baby's crying should never be ignored, but interpreted: sometimes it is a matter of physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, a wet nappy, a stuffy nose, or uncomfortable environmental situations such as an environment that is too hot or cold. Sometimes he just needs reassurance and physical contact with his mother; every parent can usually develop a method of interpreting the baby's needs and then helping him to go back to sleep after the need has been met.
By implementing a few suggestions, it is possible to promote the conditions for the baby to sleep better and longer during the night; in this way, sleep is more restorative even for new parents who may have already resumed work after the happy event and need to rest.
During the day, for example, it is necessary for the child to be able to sleep and rest, but it is just as important to stimulate moments of activity and interaction, even when the baby is very small. A good sleep-wake rhythm helps the child to grow up well, the mother to feel well, and creates the conditions for so-called "rituals". Rituals are "daily routines", actions that are carried out every day more or less at the same time of day and which mark the times of feeding, playing, sleeping and bathing. They help the child to orientate himself in time and provide him with the psychological security necessary for his development.
The bedtime ritual is one of the important moments at the end of a child's day and continues to be important until almost 8-9 years of age.
Very young children, up to 7-8 months, will need more "physical" rituals: a warm bath, but not too warm, a massage with moisturising cream or oil by mum, feeding, a walk around the house in mum's arms. Then bedtime in the cot or crib in the supine position (on the stomach). It may happen that the baby cries for a few minutes: in these cases, after making sure that he has eaten enough and digested, has been changed and has a clear nose, before picking him up you can try stroking him gently, making him feel warm and reassuring him with your voice. These small gestures are often enough to calm him down and put him to sleep. It is essential to lower the lights and muffle all the sounds around the room to create a relaxing atmosphere that facilitates sleep. Normally, if the baby is in good health, he will sleep peacefully until the night feeding.
Instead, when the baby reaches 8-9 months, he will no longer ask for a night feeding, but his memory, in fact, in this period he begins to "remember"; he becomes aware that by making himself heard with insistence, he can get what he wants, such as going to sleep with mum and dad or playing. The winning strategy in these cases will be to maintain the rituals of preparation for sleep at night and, in the case of waking up at night, do not run to him at the first cry but wait a few minutes. He will easily fall asleep again on his own, but if this doesn't happen, it is advisable to get close to him to make him feel our presence by staying close to him without talking and stroking him. If you suspect that he is wet, change his nappy in silence without playing with him. This will help him not to wake up completely and resume the interrupted sleep.
When children are older, rituals are even more important because they give them confidence and help them understand the rules.
There is a time for every activity and "for every time you do things": you wash your hands before you eat, you bathe before you go to sleep, you say goodbye to games when it's time to stop playing....
Establishing routines is essential and through these you can create very intimate moments between children and parents; especially before bedtime.
Small habits that make the child feel safe and get him or her used to accepting even situations that are unpleasant for him or her, such as interrupting play to go to sleep or drying hair with a hair dryer after a bath.... It can be useful to invent stories related to the actions that take place to involve the child and feed his imagination.
If every evening, when the day is over and you have to go to bed, mum tells or reads a story, or sings a little song, this will be a special moment that the child will look for and perceive as "bedtime" and that he will gladly accept without making a fuss.
The important thing is to tie certain habits and rituals always and only to that part of the day, so that the child considers it a "special moment" in which they do things that are tied only to that action.