How to settle your baby back to sleep
Ask any parent what they miss most about the pre-baby days, and they’ll undoubtedly say, “Sleep!”
“While you might be waking every two to three hours to feed and change your newborn throughout the night, it’s also not uncommon for your older baby to wake up between 13 - 16 times a night and spend about 10 - 15 minutes in light, REM sleep, per sleep cycle”, says Managing Director of Goodnight Baby and Sleep Coach, Jolandi Becker.
This happens because babies have shorter sleep cycles than adults, around 30—45 minutes at 10 months, and around 60 minutes by the time they hit the 12-month mark. This could result in shorter daytime naps too if your baby doesn’t fall back asleep easily between sleep cycles.
What happens during REM sleep?
“During this subconscious light sleep, children might make sounds, open their eyes, and can even sit or stand up,” explains Jolandi. This is because during REM sleep, the brain is almost as active as it is when you’re awake. This type of sleep has been linked to memory formation and thought processing which is why this sleep cycle is so light.
Babies generally go into the REM cycle of sleep around 60 minutes after initially falling asleep at night. “If you notice that your baby wakes frequently in the night, it’s important to give them around 5 - 10 minutes to settle on their own before you settle them or go into their room,” advises Jolandi.
If you go in too quickly, you might wake your little one fully, which means it’ll take longer to fall back asleep. So, the key here is to wait and not respond to every moan, but to see if your child falls asleep again after waking. Remember, just like adults, babies have an innate ability to sleep on their own and you need to give them a chance to do this.
If your baby does need you in the night, make sure not to engage too much, avoid talking loudly and laughing or switching on the lights fully. A dim warm-toned light is fine if you need to see your way around.
How to settle your baby
At this age, Jolandi says babies don’t need milk at night from a nutritional perspective, provided they drink enough during the day. Sometimes, all it takes is a comfort object like a soft toy or a blanket, a few pats on the back or your soothing voice to settle your little one.
Whatever happens at bedtime, will tend to repeat itself in the middle of the night - with every wake up. So, if you don’t want to rock or feed your baby in the middle of the night, avoid feeding your baby to sleep or rocking them too much at bedtime.
Jolandi says that the right bedtime for your baby will also help to reduce frequent night wakings as overtired children tend to be restless throughout the night. Your 10-month-old shouldn’t be going to bed later than 19h30, which means the last nap of the day should be before 16h00.
The right bedtime routine is also important to help your little one sleep more soundly throughout the night. Make sure to set the stage for sleep with:
• A soothing bath
• A night-time massage with a baby oil
• A feed and bedtime story
• Drawn curtains and a calm, quiet room
• White noise, such as calming music or a fan
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