Sweet dreams

Sweet dreams
New parents dream of the day their child finally begins sleeping through the night. Patience is key, however, as that day can take a while to come around.

New parents dream of the day their child finally begins sleeping through the night. Patience is key, however, as that day can take a while to come around.

“We celebrate when Marguerite sleeps for three hours in a row!” says Louis-Guillaume of his youngest, who is one and a half months old. As the parent of another little girl, 19-month-old Béatrice, he’s not about to be discouraged. “We’ve been through this before, so we know it’s just a matter of time,” he explains.

It does, in fact, take some time for babies to develop a sleeping pattern. “During the first month, babies sleep intermittently,” says nurse clinician Évelyne Martello, author of Enfin je dors . . . et mes parents aussi, a parenting book on babies and sleep. Even if they spend 19 hours a day sleeping, it’s sleep interspersed with periods of being awake. “Their sleep cycles haven’t been straightened out yet,” Martello continues. “You have to be ready for anything. A baby might sleep for 10 minutes or for two hours straight.”

Did you know?
Babies dream too! By the age of four months, infants have more or less established a sleep cycle. This includes periods of REM sleep, which is when most dreams occur.

Week by week, babies will begin sleeping for longer periods. After about three months, they may well stay down for six hours and give their parents a pleasant surprise. “For me, the first night is when a baby sleeps from night to morning,” says Martello. “This begins after about four months, when babies are capable of sleeping for 10 hours straight.” Louis-Guillaume remembers the first time Béatrice slept through the night, when she was about six months old. “We woke up at the same time the next morning. What a great way to start the day!”

Sleep strategy

As Martello notes, no two babies are alike. “Some stay asleep for hours right off the bat, others take a little longer to become regular sleepers.”

However, setting up a bedtime routine—as Louis-Guillaume and his partner have with their eldest—is an effective trick. “Every night, after her bath, we tell Béatrice stories,” says Louis-Guillaume. “Then, we sing one or two lullabies before putting her in her bed, where she falls asleep by herself. We’re planning to start a routine with Marguerite soon.”

Night before day
Newborns can’t tell the difference between night and day. “That’s why some babies sleep more during the day than at night,” Martello explains. “Parents can teach their baby to distinguish one from the other by being more active in the daytime and less active at night.” She recommends spending the day going out with your baby, talking to him frequently, and bringing him to see different people. If he wakes up at night, keep the lights off and avoid any kind of stimulation.

 

Naitre et grandir.com

SourceNaître et grandir magazine, January–February 2018
Research and copywriting: Julie Leduc
Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator

 

Photo: Maxim Morin