Also known as nursing, breastfeeding is for young children and babies that begins within the first hour of a baby's life and may continue as much as a baby wants. According to an overwhelming amount of research, there is no doubt that breastfeeding for babies can be extremely beneficial for the baby's early development and mothers as well.
In particular, babies can benefit from all sorts of positives, including cognitive development, lower risk of asthma, food allergies, and the risk of obesity in adulthood. According to a recent study by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in the US alone, the national rate for infants who are breastfed at six months is 58.3%, whereas only 25.6% of them are exclusively breastfed through 6 months.
This just goes to show that there is a greater need to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement in maternity care practices.
According to several studies, breastfeeding is also linked with your baby’s sleep. A proper breastfeeding schedule is important for the better sleep duration of your child. Not only it impacts the sleep routine of your child but night breastfeeding also helps mothers sleep well.
In light of this information, let's take a quick look at some of the ways through which breastfeeding can help babies sleep at night:
1. Age of Baby Matters
It is essential to realize that babies exhibit sleep patterns that can be unique for each individual; however, much of their sleeping habits can result from their age. For newborns, sleeping through the night is definitely out of the question as they need to be fed more frequently. In comparison, babies that are from 2-3 months old can achieve sleep for a stretch of five-six hours straight.
By four months, babies can sleep for a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. It is not around 5-6 months that your babies would be able to accomplish asleep through the night milestone. This is the stage where you can start using bits of advice and recommendations to get them to sleep.
2. Establishing a Routine
A lot can be said as to why breastfeeding may help babies sleep. Probably the warm feeling of skin on the skin can be taken as one of the reasons. However, if you study the psychological reasoning behind this is cholecystokinin's release, a hormone that gives your baby the 'drunken sailor look' when they are well fed.
However, CCK can induce sleep in both moms and the babies, which is why it is highly recommended that you and your catch up on sleep together and count yourself lucky when that happens. Building a routine would, therefore, greatly benefit both of you. Establishing a bedtime routine will assist in giving signals to the young and adorable one that it is time to sleep.
You can use warm water baths to initiate such practices plus cuddling and lullabies can also help you to induce sleep while a full-feeding will be a great finishing touch.
A scheduled breastfeeding at night will not only result in a good sleep for your in fact. But according to a study, breastfeeding practices in early child hood impacts the trajectories of sleep in children of 2 to 5 years as well.
3. Filling Tummies through the Day
Babies have tiny tummies and can hold up to about 20ml of fluid, and this can increase with the passage of time as they grow older. While night time contribution may make a significant contribution to their daily intake, there is no doubt that you can keep your babies satisfied throughout the day period and keep their tummies full. However, it is crucial to note here that hormones control circadian rhythms that regulate our internal body clocks.
Breast milk contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid in the body that makes melatonin. Melatonin is what can help your baby get to sleep, and as such, breastfeeding during the day can cause levels of melatonin to rise while supporting the development of circadian rhythms, which in return can settle them to sleep better at night.
4. Dream Feeds
A dream feed can be described as a late-night nibble where you wake up your baby just a little so that they are not completely asleep, and just a few sips can ensure an extra hour or two of sleep. However, if this becomes habitual to the point where your baby wants to have that extra snack, then you might have to ditch this routine altogether.
It should be noted here that nighttime breastfeeding can help LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method), which can be used as birth control. Furthermore, while breastfeeding doesn't reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden unexplained death in infancy), those babies who aren't breastfed show a much higher risk of this fatal occurrence. Lastly, breastfeeding also helps you to get sleep.
5. Weaning Nighttime Feeds
Weaning is the gradual process where infants are introduced to other supplementary diet and withdrawing mother's milk. For a better night at sleep, mothers can start weaning nighttime feeds so that their baby becomes less dependent on being breastfed.
So by effectively shortening the night time feed through various techniques, you can ensure that your baby starts to develop patterns that encourage nighttime sleep slowly. Eventually, when you start decreasing the amount of milk or nursing time, your baby would become less reliant on overnight feeding.
6. Bad Sleeping Habits and Environments
It would make you feel delighted to make sure that your baby sleeps soundly through the night as a mother. However, there are some bad habits that you must avoid:
- No association with a particular room as a bedroom. Baby sleeps all over the place, including on the sofa, in the car, stroller, and even in their high chair.
- Frequently changing sleep schedules, thus reduce consistent sleep patterns and hamper their daily time for activities and playtime.
- Lack of bedtime routine where no explicit initiatives or practices are followed to signal baby that it is nap time.
Regulating a baby's nighttime sleep routine or pattern is no joke. Hence it is absolutely essential that parents together take an active part to play their important roles, and all must not be left for the mom to consolidate.
Share weekly routines where the two of you can rock the baby to sleep and exchange turns to get up at might night when the baby wakes up. Relying too much on nighttime feeds is also not healthy as this will make your baby wake more often just to have that extra snack. Always remember that healthy sleeping habits will make your baby super happy!
Alaska Sleep Clinic has the most experience in the state with pediatric sleep disorders. Our Pediatric Medical Director Dr. Harry Yuan is just one reason why you can trust your entire family's sleep health to ASC. Call us today to learn more.
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