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Irregular sleep pattern: How to put a baby to bed

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th July 2011 03:00 AM

RITA is bothered by her nine-month-old’s sleep pattern. “He wakes up very early and wants to play, yet I have to prepare for work,” she laments.

RITA is bothered by her nine-month-old’s sleep pattern. “He wakes up very early and wants to play, yet I have to prepare for work,” she laments.

By Agnes Kyotalengerire
RITA is bothered by her nine-month-old’s sleep pattern. “He wakes up very early and wants to play, yet I have to prepare for work,” she laments.

Like Rita, many parents face this dilemma. Irregular sleep patterns are fairly common among young children.
According to Dr. Sabrina Bakera- Kitaka, a paediatrician, children need at least nine hours of sleep every night.

But when sleep problems are a regular occurrence, for example when they get in the way of the child’s daily routine and hamper his ability to function, then the child may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

Impact of sleep disorders
Kitaka says lack of quality sleep has a negative impact on a child’s energy, emotional balance, productivity and health.

Besides, failure to have enough sleep can result in accidents and injuries, in cases where a child dozes off and falls. Inadequate sleep can also result in behaviour, mood and learning problems as well as memory and concentration problems.

Signs of sleep problems
Symptoms of sleep disorder are most times misinterpreted, but a parent should consult a paediatrician if the child snores, has problems sleeping throughout the night, difficulty staying awake during the day, unexplained decrease in daytime performance and unusual events during sleep.

Coping tips for early wakers
Children who wake up early disrupt others’ sleep, but you can encourage your baby to stay alone in the bed when awake.

To keep the baby happy and distracted, Flora Kisembo a nursing officer, recommends fixing a mobile object just above the cot so that it swings and distracts the baby. Alternatively, put a wound-edged mirror on one side of the cot so that the baby looks at its own reflection and does not feel lonely.

You can use strings to hang household objects, for example small wooden objects and favourite toys.
Also ensure the room is not too dark in the morning so that the child can play. If the room is dark, consider hanging lighter curtains.

Kisembo encourages leaving the baby to snuffle and chatter to herself until she is restless. “This way, you are teaching the baby to be self-reliant and independent” she affirms.

Night-wakers
Kisembo observes that though it is essential to have enough sleep; it becomes inevitable waking up in the middle of the night, when you have a night-waker.

To cope, work out a routine where you can go to bed early. For a bottle–fed baby, prepare the feeds before going to bed. For breastfeeding mothers, request your spouse to help in collecting the baby, changing the diaper/nappy after feeds and putting the baby back into the cot.

“Some babies become restless, but make sure that it is neither too hot nor too cold. If it is hot, remove some clothing and if cold, cover or dress it in warm clothes. Check to ensure the baby does not have a nappy/diaper rash. In case of nightmares, provide comfort until the baby sleeps again.

Tips
Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not deviate from it. Similarly, the weekday waking time should not differ from weekends.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as giving your child a warm bath or reading a story.

Do not give children any food or drinks with caffeine before bedtime.
Make sure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable and that the bedroom is dark.

Make sure the noise level in the house is low.
Avoid giving children large meals close to bedtime.
Make after-dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake.

There should be no television, radio, or music playing while the child is sleeping.

Irregular sleep pattern: How to put a baby to bed

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