Paediatrician and Baby Channel Medical expert comes into the studio to discuss baby sleep patterns.
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Eils Hewitt: One of the things new parents crave most is a good night sleep, for themselves and their baby. But settling a baby into a good sleeping routine isn't always easy. Dr. Su Laurent is a Consultant Pediatrician at Barnet Hospital in Hertfordshire and the Baby Channels Medical Advisor. Thanks very much for coming in today, Su. Dr. Su Laurent: Hi! Eils Hewitt: Su how much sleep do babies need? Dr. Su Laurent: Well, the sleep that babies need to begin with first of all is very variable, but usually they are going to sleep about 18 out of 24 hours to begin with, and that sleep gradually will reduce over the first year of life. Eils Hewitt: And how much, how do you basically get your baby into a good sleep pattern, it's the kind of question that all parents want to know? Dr. Su Laurent: This is the fifty million dollar question, isn't it? And this is so important to begin with. And I must say that although I say this to parents all the time I am the worst example. I have got three kids and I didn't get any of them into very good sleep patterns to begin with. And I had to put them all through sleep programs eventually to get them to sleep through the night. But this is the essence of trying to get your child into a good sleep pattern, and that is encouraging them or training them to be able to go to sleep from a position where they are still awake. In other words a natural tendency is we breast or we bottle feed our baby we then very, very, very, very, gently put them down like that, and then we tip-toe away and make sure that they are very, very quite. Eils Hewitt: Maybe if they are waking up, it's a nightmare, isn’t it? Dr. Su Laurent: Exactly, you’re picking up again and then you rock them and then you put them down again. And then what we are training our babies to do is to need us in order to go to sleep. But if on the other hand we feed them we get the little sleep. For example at night, when they are a few weeks old, we’ll get them into a routine, where you might give them a buff first and read them a little story, and then give them a little feed and then put them down, while they are still awake, but sleepy and then say, night, night. And go out of the room, hopefully you'll train them to realize it's actually, okay to go to sleep, with mummy or daddy not in the room, and therefore when I wakeup in the middle of the night, and I realize I am on my own, or there's mummy and daddy near me in the bed, but I don't actually need them to pick me up, and cuddle me and put me back down to sleep again. That is good sleep training. Eils Hewitt: So for many parents who want to try this kind of routine, because the baby is up, at times at night and day, how long does this sort of program take realistically? Dr. Su Laurent: Okay, well the question is when you are going to start this sort of program, most parents will do whatever feels natural for the first three to six months of their baby's life. In other words they'll feed them, they'll put them down, and they'll try to get them into a good sleep program, but if they don’t, that's fine, and that all be hoping, that by about six months or so the baby naturally sleeps through the night and everything is hunky-dory. But for those where they don't sleep through the night, where they try to and encourage a good sleep pattern that's where you are going to want to try a really sort of intensive program to train your baby that it's okay to go to sleep at night by themselves. So what you will want to do is to really aim to get to start off by getting them to go to sleep by themselves at the beginning of the evening, and if they won't do that what you are going to do, have to stay them, but not keep picking them up, just say it's okay, mummy is here, or daddy is here, go back to sleep, you go to sleep and just talk to them and then leave them and then ease yourself out of the room. And then you might want to go back five minutes later and say, it's okay, it's time to go to bed now. Jus