The truth about newborn sleep

Science & Sensibility, a research blog from Lamaze International, recently published a post the nighttime realities new parents face. It talks about the new book that La Leche League has just published about safe sleep called “Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family.”

” “The experience of sleep, and of being left alone for sleep, is very different for babies than it is for adults. The more quickly you can understand your baby’s needs—for comfort, food, reassurance, contact, love—the less disruptive nighttime baby care will become, and the less anxious you will feel. Some of the decisions you make early on about nighttime baby care will affect how you manage sleep disruption and cope with your new baby.”

Linda J. Smith, one of the authors of the book, writes that your baby’s “body clock, which until recently was controlled by your own, is now free-running, and a day-night pattern does not start to emerge until he is around three months old. His stomach is tiny, and he will need frequent feeds all around the clock—he cannot wait eight hours through the night to be fed just because you need to sleep. If you don’t feed him, he will cry. If he’s cold, he will cry. If he hurts, he will cry. If he misses being in close contact with you, he will cry. He doesn’t know that you will come back once you leave his sight. If he feels abandoned, he will cry frantically—it’s his only method to attract attention and bring himself to safety. If he cries frantically, it will take a long time for him to calm down and you will have to help him.”

There are ways to maximize your sleep and get rest for the whole family while your baby is so young. One of the ways that many breastfeeding mothers find helpful is to bedshare. This allows you to get rest while still meeting the needs for closeness, nutrition and comfort of your baby.

The book shares 7 ways to bedshare safely. You can read more of this post, which talks about what is normal sleep for this stage, safety issues and when the baby will sleep through night here: “Sleeping Like a Mammal: Nighttime Realities for Childbirth Educators to Share with Parents.”

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