Starting bad habits

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Starting bad habits

Postby NeedSomeHelp » Sun 23 Jan, 2011 9:43 pm

Hi there

I am getting really worried. Until 4 weeks my baby was a dream sleeper, she went to sleep on her own no worries. This last 2 weeks though she is crying a lot every evening from 4pm - 7pm and she is not going to sleep unless I am holding her. I am getting really stressed though as I know I am starting a bad habit. My 2 year old fell asleep in my arms for a year until we came to Ngala to get help and I dont want to go down this road again. Help! My mum says she is "playing me" and I suppose she's right, but I dont know if she is too young to start controlled crying?
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Re: Starting bad habits

Postby NgalaOnline » Wed 26 Jan, 2011 2:38 pm

Hi NeedSomeHelp

Thank you for your post. The concerns you are having are very common. Although unsettled behaviour in babies can be very frustrating and draining, you can be reassured that your baby is not manipulating you or "playing you".

Unsettled periods involving sessions of unexplained crying that can last several hours is very common in newborns. Parents often notice these behaviours begin to develop around 4 weeks of age, often peaking around 6-8 weeks before reducing as the baby approaches 12 - 14 weeks. It is common for these unsettled periods to be in the late afternoon or evening, although not always. Little is known about why babies have these unsettled periods, but it is thought to be due to their brain development and the fact that they are becoming more alert and potentially overstimulated by everything around them, without the ability to calm oneself down at this age. The behaviour can often indicate overtiredness. Some parents also feel that the crying is related to abdominal pains as the stomach adjusts to digesting milk. Although breastfeeding mothers often become concerned that their milk or a poor supply is the cause, these unsettled periods occur in both breast and bottle fed babies.

Many parents become concerned that holding the baby or soothing them by feeding, rocking or cuddling may result in habits that will cause sleep issues. The good news is that in these early newborn weeks, this is not the case. Human babies are born with large sections of their brains still underdeveloped, and at four weeks of age your baby's brain is still very immature. Before the age of about 12 weeks, the parts of the brain that control emotional regulation (the ability to calm oneself down) and the part of the brain controlling the establishment of memories are still very immature. Around the age of 3 to 4 months babies can start developing sleep associations (ideas about how to fall asleep and resettle) so at that time it can be helpful to begin helping your baby to learn how to fall asleep in her cot. Before then, however, you can feel confident in comforting your baby in whichever way you wish without concern that it will become a habit.

Some things that work well for babies having unsettled periods include cuddling, movement (in a sling, pram, bouncer, swing), deep warm baths and white noise (such as the washing machine, vacuum or radio static) played louder than her cry. It is common for babies to be unpredictable at this age, and what you try successfully one day to settle her may not work the next day. Caring for a baby having unsettled periods can be very draining, so it is important to take care of your own needs at this time and seek practical help and support from those around you, including some short periods of time out from caring from your baby.

You may find the following link helpful:

http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/fussy.html

You may also find the Ngala Tip Sheets "Secrets of Good Sleepers," "How Does My Newborn Sleep," and "Sleep and Settling 0-5 year olds" helpful.

http://www.ngala.com.au/You-and-Your-Fa ... nce-Guides
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
http://www.ngala.com.au/You-and-Your-Family/Web-Based-Resources
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Re: Starting bad habits

Postby sara » Fri 29 Apr, 2011 8:36 am

Just wondering, does that mean that they can't get into potentially good habits till about 3-4 months?
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Re: Starting bad habits

Postby NgalaOnline » Sat 30 Apr, 2011 1:48 pm

Hi Sara

Yes that is correct. The sections of the brain involving establishment of memories and sleep associations is not very well developed until around three to four months of age. This means that babies usually do not develop habits regarding how to fall asleep until around twelve weeks or so. The early newborn weeks can be challenging and draining, and parents often find it easiest to comfort baby in whichever way he responds to best in the early weeks, including cuddling or rocking if he is very unsettled. As he approaches three months you may like to begin putting him into his bed awake and giving him an opportunity to settle himself if he is not distressed. May parents find it easiest to begin practicing with the early morning sleeps when baby is less likely to be overtired, and is easier to settle, gradually moving towards working on later sleeps as the baby develops his sleeping and settling skills.

I hope you found this helpful.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online http://www.ngala.com.au/Ngala-and-You/Ngala-Helpline/Contact-Ngala-Helpline-Online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
http://www.ngala.com.au/You-and-Your-Family/Web-Based-Resources
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