If you're a new parent, then you're likely sleep deprived. It's just one of the not-really-perks of brining a tiny human into the world. But, have you stopped to consider that if you aren't getting enough sleep to fully function, your baby may not be either? Think about it — if your little one isn't sleeping, there's a good chance no one else in the house is, either. This is why it's important to the whole family to learn how to help a sleep-deprived baby.
According to Parenting Science, pediatricians and parents have noted that some signs of sleep deprivation in very young babies include a lack of interest in people and the environment, a tendency to look away from stimulating things, as well as hand and face gestures such as pulling ears, rubbing eyes, fluttering eyelids, and yawning.
As they get older, babies may exhibit other signs of sleep deprivation such as becoming more accident prone or clingy. They may become more active as the night wears on. Older babies with sleep deprivation also have a hard time recovering from negative emotions, they may experience feeding trouble, and can be harder to awaken.
Sleep deprivation is no fun for anyone, especially not for infants who don't understand why they are feeling out of sorts. Amy Bassett, a sleep consultant for Baby Sleep Site, gave Romper five tips to help your sleep-deprived baby get some much needed rest.
1. Create A Sleep Haven
Bassett says a common misconception is that babies should be taught to sleep through loud noises. This, however, can backfire for parents of perceptive, active, or sensitive babies. She explains that, although some babies are natural sleepers and have no trouble sleeping anywhere, a sleep-deprived baby isn’t going to benefit from attempts to teach them to nap amidst barking dogs, loud talking, or while being showered in sunlight. She says:
"If your baby is sleep deprived, save the 'extra credit; assignments for later and focus on creating a sleep haven for your little peanut. White noise, blackout curtains, and cool air are a sleep-deprived baby’s best friend."
2. Prioritize Naps
Another misconception that parents have is that babies should be kept up during the day so they will sleep better at night. "This simply isn’t helpful," Bassett says. Sleep begets sleep, and if your baby is suffering from frequent night wakings or living on what she calls "itty bitty catnaps," it’s a good idea to make restorative naps a priority.
3. Experiment With Early Bedtimes
The best medicine for sleep-deprivation is, and always will be, more sleep. But how do you help your little one dig out from under their mounting sleep debt? According to Bassett, the answer, is often an earlier bedtime. She recommends that all parents of sleep-deprived babies give it a try. "And not just for one night," she warns, "stick with it for at least three to four nights in a row before deciding if it’s helping."
4. Fill ‘Em Up
Often, babies and toddlers are sent to sleep hours after their last “meal.” Bassett says this can be a big mistake for babies who have a hard time sleeping. "Ensuring your little one has a full tummy is one way to help extend naps, and get a longer stretch of sleep overnight," she says. "Just be careful not to feed them all the way to sleep."
5. Stabilize Wake Up Time
Sometimes the secret to better sleep is as simple as setting their wake up time, and sticking to it. When babies wake up at very different times each day, Bassett says it makes it difficult for their internal clocks to operate as designed. Although parents may enjoy sleeping in an extra hour or two on those occasions when baby decides to sleep in, allowing your baby to oversleep can lead to chaotic sleep cycles and chronic fatigue. Opt for longer-term success by establishing a set wake-up time and then do your best to stick to it.