Your prem baby will sleep for much of the day while in the neonatal unit. Deep sleep and light sleep are both important for your baby’s growth and the development of her brain. Unfortunately your baby’s natural sleep cycles and natural sleep states will be disrupted by the sounds and interventions of the neonatal unit. Unlike the womb, your baby does not enjoy the lulling motion of your body to help her sleep in the still space of the incubator.
What you can expect at this stage
- Your premature baby will benefit from sleeping most of the day
- Your prem baby will take longer to settle into good sleep habits due to the disruptions by medical interventions, the lighting and sounds in the neonatal unit and the need for frequent feeds at night
- Make sure you also sleep during the day when your baby sleeps
Your prem baby needs to sleep so much that she will probably only have brief awake periods when medical interventions and feeds can be tolerated. The important thing at this stage is to watch your baby’s signals and help her to sleep as much as possible, especially whenever she shows signals of over stimulation.
Help your premature baby establish good sleep habits
You can assist your baby to develop healthy sleep habits right from the early days in the neonatal unit:
- Dim the neonatal unit at night so that your baby learns the difference between day and night
- Do not interrupt her natural sleep rhythms with interventions
- Try to allow her to sleep for 2 to 3 hours uninterrupted at a time without disturbing her with an intervention