From about four months of age babies begin to develop sleep expectations and one of those is an expectation of where they will fall asleep. So it is important that you establish a consistent calming sleep zone as soon as possible.
One of the key factors in developing good sleep habits in your baby is a consistent sleep zone. From about four months of age babies begin to develop sleep expectations and one of those is an expectation of where they will fall asleep. So it is important that you establish a consistent calming sleep zone as soon as possible.
Where should your baby’s sleep zone be
There’s nothing quite like that special feeling of snuggling up in bed with your baby. A whisper of soft breath, that special baby smell, and the utter bliss of a sleeping child. For some parents, the choice is to have their babies in the bed with them. In many cultures it is the accepted norm for children to share their parents’ bed for many years. Indeed, in many homes, bed sharing, or room sharing is a necessity due to lack of adequate housing space. Many parents simply enjoy having their children close to them.
For others, the idea of sharing a bed, let alone a bedroom with their child is just not their scene and the reality of sharing a bed with a restless baby or toddler results in no sleep for anyone.
How does one choose what is best for your baby?
There is evidence that co-sleeping in the early days is a good choice. It helps your baby feel secure and regulates her breathing and body temperature. For moms it is also convenient as you can respond with ease to feeding needs at night.
Some parents do not like the idea of co-sleeping and are worried about the safety of having their baby sleeping in their bed. If you are a sensory sensitive person, the movements and noises of a little body in your bed may prevent a good night’s sleep.
If you choose to co-sleep, follow these guidelines to limit the risk of SIDs (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as cot death):
- Your baby must sleep on her back.
- Do not have a pillow near your baby.
- Do not cover your baby with your duvet, or use an electric blanket or hot water bottle.
- Place your baby on the outside of the bed next to you, not between you and your partner.
- Have a sleep nest that creates a space for your baby in your bed.
- Do not co-sleep if your baby is exposed to cigarette smoke during the day.
- Do not drink alcohol or take any form of pain medication before bedtime. If you have had a Caesarean section and are taking painkillers it is wiser to let your baby sleep next to you in a crib.
Adapted from The Science of Parenting, M Sunderland
Opting for a nursery
You may choose for your baby to go into her own room from very early on in the first three months and will probably find that she adjusts to it with ease. Rest assured if this is your choice, you will hear your baby when she needs you as you are sensitised to her sounds and cries after birth. If you are concerned, have a monitor in her room so you can respond quickly to her at night.
The bottom line is that neither choice is a bad one and so in the early days choose your baby’s sleep space according to your own preferences and according to where you get a good night sleep as this is important for feeding and nurturing your baby.
A great middle ground option for the early weeks is to have your baby in your room next to your bed in a co-sleeper cot or her own crib next to your bed. In this way, she is close enough to be heard and feeds are convenient.
By Meg Faure