A sound and peaceful sleep are vital for the healthy growth of a baby. A newborn baby should sleep for 8-9 hours during the daytime and for 8 hours at night. As the baby grows, their sleeping pattern also changes.
A sound sleep provides a lot of benefits for a baby. Apart from promoting growth, it helps in proper weight management and improves the baby’s immune system. Thus, it is essential for babies to get adequate sleep both during the day and at night.
One of the biggest concerns of most first-time mothers is ‘how to put the baby to sleep?” A baby should be put to sleep when he/she shows a sleep cue. This will help the baby to sleep fast and deeply without putting up a fuss.
What are Sleep Cues?
Sleep cues are hints or signs that the baby shows to let you know that he/she needs rest. By understanding these cues, mothers can take the right action and ensure that the baby gets a good rest.
Unlike the sleep cues shown by a normal person, the sleep cues of babies are more complicated as the baby grows. Moreover, the cues may differ from one baby to another. Thus, it is vital for mothers to understand what each cue stands for and take the right action.
What are the Most Common Baby Sleep Cues?
- Rubbing the eyes: This is one cue that is common among most babies and young children. Babies rub their eyes to overcome the itchiness that they feel when they are sleepy. Babies usually make a fist with their hands and then rub their eyes.
Some babies will even have red color around their eyes, which shows that they are sleepy.
- Yawning: This is another cue that is common among both babies and adults. The first yawn can be gentle, which you may miss. But if you do not act on the first cue, then the baby’s next yawn will be accompanied by sound which you are sure to notice.
- Sucking thumbs: This is yet another sleep cue shown by most babies. Some babies even make a fist with their palm and try to suck it.
- Rubbing the ears: Just like rubbing the eyes, some babies may rub their ears to show that they are sleepy. The baby will make a fist with the palm and then rub the ears. Sometimes, he/she may use their fingernails to rub their ears.
- Scratching the head: After rubbing their ears for some time, the baby will start scratching their head. This usually happens when the baby is busy playing. But if the baby is very sleepy, then he/she will stop playing and will concentrate only on scratching their head.
- Frowning: This is a cue mostly shown by newborn babies. Babies will contract their brows and stare at a specific place. Newborns are too small to make out the changes in their body when they feel sleepy. Hence, they frown and stare at a specific spot.
- Make sound: Babies will make a strange sound like a growl to let you know that he/she is sleepy. If the baby is slightly older, then he/she will make the sound even while engaging in some activity like playing.
- Demand a feed: Some babies will touch your breast or point towards it to indicate that they want to feed and sleep. Feeding provides a lot of comfort for your baby and lets him/her dose off quickly.
- Decreased activity: This cue is generally shown by babies over two months of age. The baby will stop kicking and being active and remain calm. He/she will become disinterested in playing or doing any activity. This is a sign that the baby is tired and wants to sleep.
- Crying: If you do not pay any attention to the earlier sleep cues, then the last resort is to cry it out. The crying will start slowly and later becomes high and intense.
Mothers will be able to pick up these baby cues in a short time. Once you understand the signs, you should put the baby to sleep immediately. This way, the baby will go to sleep quickly without giving you any trouble. If you miss the baby sleep window, the baby will become crankier as he/she is overtired. You will then have a tougher time putting the baby to sleep.
Does your baby have any peculiar sleep cue? We would like to know more about it. Feel free to leave a comment below.