Every parent-to-be has been warned about the lack of sleep when the baby arrives. From age 0 to 3 months, there's nothing you can do but to go with your baby's (crazy) sleep-wake pattern. But don't worry, your babies are learning to sleep.
At about four months, babies can reach their sleep maturity — they begin to establish a regular sleep pattern, and it's an ideal time to introduce sleep training. Physiologically, Weil stressed, that babies can be capable of soothing themselves back to sleep starting at two months onward. However, the dilemma of many moms is they still nurse their baby during nighttime.
Speaking at the Smart Parenting's "All About Baby" workshop last April (in partnership with Belo Baby and held at Discovery Suites Hotel in Ortigas, Pasig City), sleep coach and mom of one Gabrielle Weil stressed that you don't have to give up breastfeeding so your baby (and you) can get quality sleep.
Weil reminded moms in attendance that "breastfeeding and sleep training have nothing to do with each other."
"If you're feeding at night, make sure that your baby is awake and actively swallowing," Weil advised. "If they're just sleeping on you, stop [breastfeeding] — they're using you as a pacifier." She also suggested to strip baby down to his diaper to help keep him awake during a nighttime feeding. "If their eyes are starting to close, stop [breastfeeding]."
Co-sleeping is great for newborns. It helps you breastfeed your baby on demand even at night. However, Weil discourages moms to co-sleep with their babies when the little ones turn 4 months old. Co-sleeping lets your baby follow YOUR circadian rhythm (sleep-wake pattern).
Why is that bad? For starters, co-sleeping may rob them of the chance to learn how to sleep and wake up on their own. Weil recommends giving your baby the opportunity to find and learn his own circadian rhythm. Also, your baby needs 11 to 12 hours of sleep daily, as opposed to grown-ups, who only need six to eight hours of sleep.
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Weil suggested that if you want to introduce a bottle for whatever reason, do so before your baby reaches sleep maturity. "Your best opportunity is to introduce the bottle as early as three weeks," she said. One bottle feed a day will do, just so your baby becomes familiar with the bottle when it's time for you get back to work.