athomeparentingwithJoFrost2017 - 50
SLEEP; PARENTS LUST AFTER IT, BABIES DEMAND
IT AND DISCUSSIONS ON HOW LONG, HOW OFTEN
AND WHY ON EARTH WON'T THEY JUST DO IT
WILL DOMINATE WELL BEYOND THE FIRST YEAR
hat should you really
be expecting of your baby
sleep-wise in the first
12 months? Jo Tantum,
a baby sleep expert with more than 27
years' experience working with babies
and parents, believes it's important to
have realistic expectations.
'Newborn babies can only stay awake
for about an hour or so before they start
getting tired and will sleep a total of 17 to
19 hours a day,' she says. 'This will slowly
increase to two hours of awake time when
they're about six months old and stretch
to three hours when they're one.'
G E T T HE SI GNAL
Encouraging good sleeping habits from
the very start is essential, Jo says, and
for new parents, this means being hyperaware of your baby's tired signals.
'These can be anything from rubbing
their eyes or ears, yawning and getting
irritable to staring into space or just
disengaging from whatever their current
activity is,' explains Jo.
'When these signals arrive, this is
your 15-minute window of opportunity
to settle them in their cot or basket for
a nap where they should go to sleep
pretty easily. But if you miss the signs,
you run the risk of overtiredness, which
will leave you with a frustrated, cross
baby who will most likely need props,
like rocking, feeding or patting to get
them off to sleep.'
0 50 | JUNE 2 017
N I GH T A ND DAY
While it's true that babies come out of
the womb not knowing the difference
between night and day, Jo insists there's
no harm in nudging your baby gently in
the right direction in the first few weeks.
'Differentiate the atmosphere from the
beginning,' she says. 'In the daytime, keep
the room light and chat to them when
you're changing their nappy but at night,
try to keep the room as dark as possible
and your voice low and gentle, so by six
weeks, they know the difference.'
The key to a baby sleeping through the
night - the holy grail of new parenting
- is to ensure your baby feeds enough
during the day and therefore doesn't
wake up ravenous when it's dark.
'So try not to let your baby nap too
long in the day because that will eat
into their feeding time,' says Jo. 'Gently
wake them every three hours. This way,
you know you're feeding them when
they're hungry not when they're tired,
and that they're getting plenty of milk.'
Up to the age of four or five months,
babies may take four naps a day - an
hour in the morning, a longer two-hour
one at lunchtime, another nap later in
the afternoon and a fourth in the early
evening. This number will gradually go
down to three naps by eight months old
and just two - usually one in the morning
and one in the afternoon - by nine to 10