If you are a parent, I feel for you. There is so much information out there regarding every single aspect of your baby’s life: how they should sleep, when they should sleep, where they should sleep, what they should eat, how they should eat, what they should learn...I could go on. My point is, I know you feel overwhelmed, I get it. Much of what you will find on the internet is opinion or preference -- and the truth of the matter is, that’s totally fine! As parents, we will be most successful with fostering our baby’s growth if we lead with what we’re comfortable with and what we trust and can understand.
That last part (what we can understand) is a little tricky. There is a lot of science behind the broad recommendations we always hear about, especially related to our babies’ sleep. Some of it makes total sense and some of it is almost the opposite of logical! I would like to simplify your baby’s sleep with a few facts that will help develop a strong sleep foundation without the stress and anxiety that so many parents experience.
Number 1: Ideal & Safe Sleep Environment.
This is an easy one, but many new parents are not aware of the AAP safety recommendations (they have also changed over the years). Unfortunately, SIDS is a real thing, but there are ways to prevent it as best we can.There are also a few easy things we can do for our baby’s sleep environment to help them get more restorative sleep.
For Safety: Alone, on their back, and in their crib.
Your baby should sleep in their bassinet or crib with nothing else until they are at least 1 year old. This means no blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, or crib bumpers. Even the mesh bumpers can be unsafe and although they say breathable, limbs can get stuck and suffocation can be a risk. It’s simply not worth the risk of having anything in your baby’s crib other than your baby!
Since the 1990’s “Back to Sleep” campaign began, SIDS has decreased drastically. We know that the back is truly the best place for your baby to sleep until they can roll both ways and get onto their tummy by themselves. It can be a bit nerve wracking when your baby does start to roll over by themselves. With the Cubo Ai monitor, you are alerted when your baby rolls onto their tummy, which can help to reassure that even if you are not physically watching the monitor 24/7, their movement is still being ‘watched,’ and you can check in on them when they sleep on their belly without having to sneak in the room. It works almost too well, as I tested it with my 2 year old who rolls back and forth ALL NIGHT LONG. I had quite a few notifications one night, but I found it would have been an incredible tool to help relieve the anxiety I had a while back when rolling was a brand new concept for my baby.
Even with this amazing feature, the only way to truly ensure your baby is safe at night is to have a safe sleep environment. As for location, although room sharing is recommended for the new little ones, bedsharing is cautioned. If you want the safest place for your baby to sleep, it is alone, on their back, and in their crib or bassinet. If you do choose to co-sleep, please read the AAP’s recommendations and do the prep work necessary.
The Ideal Sleep Space.
Around two months old, your baby may not sleep as well on-the-go, and they start to require more restorative sleep. As they approach four months, this becomes even more important. The ideal sleep environment for your baby or toddler is a totally pitch black room with white noise. The reason these two elements help are because they complement the science behind how your baby sleeps. Light signals daytime & daytime hormones to your baby’s body, darkness stimulates melatonin & nighttime to your baby’s body. On-the-go naps, car, and swing/motion naps will not be as restorative as a nap in a dark, calm environment. Your little one is not a newborn anymore, so naps happen less frequently and are necessary to release built up sleep pressure from being awake and restore them so they can continue on with their day!
White noise is also helpful for sleep because it drowns out noise that may distract your baby as they slightly wake and transition through sleep cycles. When the environment is dark and calm and there are no outside noise distractions, they will more easily fall back asleep and take longer naps!
Two things I absolutely love about the Cubo Ai monitor are that they hide the status light in the back of the device, and also have an option to turn it off completely. When you're preparing the nursery for sleep, all lights need to be covered up. You’d be surprised at how many other monitors have bright red or green lights pointing right down at the crib and your baby, which after their eyes have adjusted to the darkness of the room, may as well be direct sunlight! The Cubo Ai monitor also plays white noise directly, which is super convenient.
Number 2: The Science of Sleep.
Now that we have the stage set for sleep with the environment, I’d like to break down the “why” behind baby sleep in the simplest way possible. My goal is to help parents understand baby sleep so that the recommendations you read about actually make sense and you feel more confident in your decisions, to set the whole family up for success.
Before your baby is four months old, sleep is unorganized. There is nothing regulating their internal clock -- naps may be short or long. Bedtime is often late and aligns with ours, so we can get some sleep! At this age, it’s truly best to keep wake times super short (see the chart below) and prioritize keeping baby and mama as well rested as possible.
Around 6-8 weeks, babies start to “wake up” from their sleepy newborn stage and go through their first big developmental leap. At this time, they will start to recognize cues and routines, and will start smiling socially -- super cute! We can practice some sleep skills, introduce bedtime, nap, and soothing routines slowly over the next couple of months to prepare for the dreaded 4 month regression. Don’t worry if sleep is tough in this period of time, this is totally normal for some babies.
So, once we make it through the fourth trimester, next comes the big 4 month progression, (A.K.A. “regression”), because your baby will wake often, especially at night. This is because their sleep is changing in a permanent way. This is actually an exciting time, because we can start to aim for specific nap times and work on independent sleep skills for sleeping on their own. For most, this means your baby will start sleeping all night, or will soon, with some support from you!
Around this time, your baby is developing defined sleep cycles and patterns. They now have a circadian rhythm or internal clock that resets each day and regulates their sleep and wake cycles. Their circadian rhythms are influenced by the time they wake in the morning, when they are exposed to sunlight, and when they have their meals and playtime. The more consistent and regular we keep the day to day, the easier it will be for them to get the sleep they need to grow, learn, and develop. It also makes it easier for you, because sleep will be predictable!
Number 3: The Power of an Early Bedtime.
Babies, toddler, and kids need a lot of sleep -- more than adults -- and we often forget this once they are no longer infants. Another thing that we tend to forget is that sleep quality is as important, or even more important, than sleep quantity. The easiest way to get your baby or toddler the restorative good sleep they need is with an early and appropriate bedtime. I recommend bedtime be between 6:00-7:30 PM for almost all kiddos 3 months to 6 years old.
Appropriate amount of sleep
Newborns: 14-17 hrs
4-11 Months: 12-15 hrs
1-2 years: 11-14 hrs
3-5 years old: 10-13 hrs
6-13 years old: 9-12 hrs
Young Adults: 9 hrs
Adults: 7 hrs
You may be looking at your baby’s bedtime and think I am crazy right now -- a 6:00 PM bedtime? YES!
Did you know that in the first half of the night, your baby gets more NREM deep restorative sleep than in the second half? Both NREM and REM sleep are important, but in order to have a well-rested baby, they need the NREM sleep at the beginning of the night. Usually, a bedtime between 7:00-7:30 PM is sufficient for most babies and children, and gets them the sleep they need. However, there are times when a 6:00 PM (or earlier) bedtime can do way more good than harm. If your baby recently dropped a nap, is transitioning naps, had short naps, skipped naps, or is waking super early with night wakings, I’d suggest trying an earlier bedtime.
Sometimes it takes a little while to find the sweet spot. If your baby goes to bed later and wakes earlier, this is a sign to move bedtime up, as well! More sleep on the front end of the evening is always a good thing.
Another great feature of the Cubo Ai monitor is the sleep analytics report you get each morning. This actually allows you to see the deep consolidated sleep your baby gets at the beginning of the night compared to the more active sleep in the second half of the night. Start diving into the analytics, it’s pretty fascinating! Timing is pretty much everything when it comes to baby sleep!
I hope this truly helps you understand the “why” behind baby sleep a little more! If not, I am just a phone call away to help you out. The Cubo Ai monitor has truly thought of all the key elements that are important for your baby’s sleep and sleep safety, and can help parents take the anxiety out of sleep with the peace of mind that your baby is getting the sleep they need. There is also a great community of other parents to connect with in the Cubo Ai Facebook community here.
To quickly sum it all up for you, this article touches on the 7 keys to baby sleep success. If these 7 keys are aligned, your baby will be getting the sleep they need and so you will you! The more confident you feel in your baby’s sleep, the more you will enjoy the moments you have with your little one, and sleep stress won’t steal any of your joy!
Nichole @ Little Peach Sleep