are all different individuals and so our daily requirements of food,
exercise, relaxation and sleep vary from person to person. Babies
are no different. Some require a lot of sleep and, unfortunately
for the poor parents, others don't seem to need much sleep at all!
The sleeplessness of the baby does more damage to the parents than
it seems to do to the innocent child. Many's the night when I've
driven around in the car, at four in the morning, with one our little
ones who was intent on an all-night marathon of wakefulness. I discovered
that the one thing that induced sleep was to take the little tinker
(I'm being rather polite in my choice of language here!) out for
a drive. The rhythmic movement of the car was guaranteed to make
those eyelids heavy - the child's as well as mine!
that do not sleep for long stretches of time are often intelligent,
lively and very interested in everything around them. My wife and
I had to keep telling ourselves that, night after night. It wasn't
a great consolation, when I'd been on call for each of the previous
about the age of 18 months, 70% of babies are sleeping through the
give you an idea of what to expect, here is a guide for the amount
of sleep a child needs as he grows:
hours of sleep required in 24 hour period
to twelve months
- 18 hours
- 3 years
- 14 hours
- 6 years
- 12 hours
TO DEAL WITH A CHILD THAT DOES NOT SLEEP.
up a duty rota, so that one night you're on duty if the baby wakes
and the next night your partner is on duty. That way you will be
guaranteed 3 - 4 good nights sleep each week.
to tire your baby out during the day with all sorts of activities
and interests - you'll probably shatter yourself in the process
bedtime approaches, don't get the little one too excited. Try to
plan a relaxing winding down routine just before bedtime. Babies
soon come to appreciate a 'set routine' and remember, a routine
is a stabilizing influence and is very comforting to a young child.
music, nursery rhymes, dimmed lighting, cuddling and rocking the
child all help to induce a sleepy state of mind. A bedtime feed
or drink can be a useful part of the routine. Disconnecting the
phone and keeping down the volume on TV, radio and hi-fi's can all
help, but having said that it's quite surprising how quickly a tired
child can sink into a deep sleep despite a cacophony of intense
sound blasting out from the teenager's bedroom next door!
possible give your baby his own bedroom. A baby that sleeps in your
bedroom can disturb your night repeatedly, as you become aware of
every breath, groan or sigh he makes.
always respond immediately when he wakes and cries in the night.
Leave him for a while to see if he goes back to sleep again, and
if after 5 - 10 minutes he hasn't done so, lift him, straighten
his bed, cuddle him, give him a drink or a feed if you think he
needs it and maybe he needs a nappy change. Then put him back to
bed. Staying with him and sitting by his bed can reassure him enough
to help him get back to sleep.
bring him into your bed as a last resort. Babies are not stupid
- they are very quick to learn all the tricks in the book! If crying
gets him your immediate attention and a full night in the comfort
and security of a parent's bed, he'll do it - every night without
hard hearted and stern does not usually work, it only upsets the
child further. So bite your bottom lip firmly and try to remain
calm and relaxed - your child is very sensitive to your feelings!
a low light on in the baby's bedroom might be helpful.
his bedding and clothing are not causing any problems.
plenty of posters on the walls, and plenty of toys and baby books
by the bed so that he can amuse himself without disturbing you -
the worst comes to the worst, you may have to put up with your baby's
erratic sleep patterns. You may end up playing with him when he's
awake and sleeping when he sleeps - even if that is during the day!
These are the sacrifices you have to make for your children!
to be patient. It all works out well in the end - eventually!
it all does become too much for you, speak to your doctor. He may
help by prescribing a short course of a mild sedative to get your
child into a sleep routine and save your sanity.