You can’t force your baby to sleep like you would do with eating food. The best alternative is to create a secure environment that helps your baby to catch up with some good sleep. You should set long-term goals to develop your baby’s attitude towards sleep.
Many sleep problems are set from the time of birth. If you grow up afraid to go to bed, or find sleep unpleasant, likely you’ll have a hard time falling asleep. Teaching children to have a healthy attitude towards sleep right from their birth will help both you and your children to will sleep better even after they grow up.
Parent-soothing method and Self-soothing method are the two schools of thought believed to put babies to sleep in their best possible way. Both methods have their own advantages and possible disadvantages:
27 Day and Night
Parent-soothing method is a method where as a parent you help your baby to fall asleep by either nursing, rocking, singing or any which comforting technique that may work for your baby when your baby is ready to sleep for the night.
- -Baby learns a healthy sleep pattern.
- -Creates fond memories about being parented to sleep.
- -Builds parent-infant trust and bonding.
Babies make a “sleep association,” wherein s/he associates certain things with falling asleep and believes s/he needs these things to fall asleep. So the disadvantage here is that your baby will learn to completely depend on you every time s/he has to go to sleep, so – as per the theory – when baby awakens s/he will expect help to get back to sleep. This may eat up your time and exhaust you as parents.
Help Your Baby Develop a Healthy Sleep Attitude
Self-soothing method: In this method, when it is time for your baby to sleep, you put your baby who is wide awake in his/her bed or crib and let him/her sleep on his/her own. As parents you may offer occasional comfort to your baby, but won’t stay until your baby drifts off to sleep.
Learning to sleep all by himself or herself, the baby will also learn to put himself/herself back to sleep without parental help, as the baby will not associate going to sleep with parents around to comfort. Initially it goes hard on your baby, but ultimately would be less exhausting for parents.
- -Would involve a few heart-wrenching nights of let-baby-cry-it-out
- -Your baby may lose trust in you
- -You lose the special bonding with your baby
- -Doesn’t work with babies whose needs are high and who throw tantrums
- -Overlooks sleep waking.
Controlling the Lights Will Help Your Little One Drift Off to Sleep
Therefore, I personally feel we should work out our own parenting sleep tactics through trial and error, keeping in mind the needs of our baby and the well-being of the entire family. Our ultimate goal should be to create a healthy sleep attitude in our baby.
Maintain light and brightness in the house during the day and keep the lights dim in the night. Make day time feeds tasty and enjoyable, play and talk to your baby during the day. But night time attend to your baby quietly and the feeds should be light and an hour before bathing the baby to sleep. By maintaining this, your baby will be able to set his/her body clock accordingly and learn the difference between day and night and as such the time for him/her to fall asleep.
26 Identify Your Baby’s Sleep Cues
As adults we know when we’re sleepy and not long after we realize how tired we are we head to bed. Babies show signs of being sleepy like yawning, pulling ears, rubbing, frowning or knitting their eyes, clenching their fists into tight balls, suddenly losing interest in playing with toys or in people around them, and also by being very fussy.
So instead of waiting until your baby is ‘past it’, put him/her to bed as soon as you see these signs. If you miss your window to put baby t bed, your baby might get very grumpy and find it difficult to settle down to sleep.
25 Introduce Bedtime Rituals
If you introduce a set bedtime routine for your baby right from his/her birth, your little one will quickly be conditioned to fall asleep. From your baby’s earliest days, give him/her a warm relaxing bath just before bedtime to ease him/her to sleep, wipe his/her gums or brush their teeth, apply baby powder to make your baby feel fresh, put your baby in their pyjamas and lastly tell them a story or play soft music.
Trust me, this really helps. I religiously followed this routine for both my kids and they would immediately go to sleep because they knew it was time for them to sleep.
24 Massage Your Baby
Massage your baby well with essential baby oil before bedtime, before you bathe them. By doing so the tired baby feels relaxed and will fall asleep more easily. Research conducted by the University of Miami found that mothers who massaged their infants before bed time had babies who would go to bed easier than mothers who did not. And it works in my experience with my kids.
23 Read a Bedtime Story
Reading a bedtime story is an all-time favourite ritual to put our babies to sleep in the night. By doing so, your baby will benefit in many ways. Your baby will not only learn to recognize new words and vocabulary but will also be exposed to language skills; more than that your baby will benefit from the time spent with you.
22 Sing a Song
A time-tested way to help your baby to swiftly drift into slumber is by singing a lullaby. Your baby loves to hear your voice and what better way than to sing her a lullaby which you can make up, or sing an old favorite. Hearing your soft, soothing voice will calm your baby and help them to sleep better.
21 Play Some Soothing Music
Play a calm CD or tape of traditional lullabies, classical music, or any of the music your baby loved when growing in the womb. Keep it playing on a very low volume till your baby falls asleep.
20 Rocking/Swinging Your Baby
The motion of a rocking chair or a baby swing can help your baby fall asleep. I used to put my kids in the swing during bed time and by swinging them softly they used to go to sleep. I would then move them to their bed.
19 Snuggle Up/Wrap Up Your Baby
Before birth, babies are used to the warmth and comfort of the womb. Once out your babies no longer have the constrictions of the womb, which can cause them to startle themselves in their sleep, producing spontaneous, jerky movements. These jerky movements can disturb their sleep making it tougher to put them back to sleep.
So, provide a sense of security for your baby by wrapping him/her firmly in a soft cotton cloth. This startle reflex subsides by the time your baby is 3 to 4 months old.
18 Avoid Caffeine
It’s believed that if you’re breast feeding your baby, then you should try cutting caffeine from your daily intake of liquids. You might drink coffee (tea or cola) to give you a kick, but your newborn could get restless if s/he gets a boost of the stimulant through your breast milk.
It would take up to ninety seven hours for the baby to get rid of the caffeine from that one single cup of coffee you had. So if you have several cups of coffee, it could mean a very wakeful baby!
17 Let Baby Suck to Sleep
Going to bed sucking on the breast is one of the best way to let your baby fall asleep. You can lie down besides your baby and give him/her your breast to suck on. This way the baby can snuggle besides you and your warmth can help the baby relax and get good sleep and you can be relaxed too.
You can also offer a feed before you go to bed yourself, this could help your baby to sleep longer meaning you sleep longer getting without disruptions. I did that and I had undisturbed sleep!
16 Do Not Interrupt Your Baby’s Sleep
Avoid waking your baby during night feeding times by trying to change the diaper while they sleep. Either change the diaper before your baby sleeps or half way through a feed, and not when baby is full and about to sleep again.
15 Tank Up Your Baby During the Day
You need to teach your baby that day time is for eating and night time is mostly for sleeping. Some children love to play all day and in the process forget to eat their food or eat less during the day and so they tend to make up for it by eating frequently during the night.
So, to stop your baby from getting used to the habit of feeding through the night, feed your baby every two hours during the day when your baby is awake. If your baby wakes up from sleep in the middle of the night, feed your baby until they’re full, otherwise your breast fed baby will keep nibbling all night and cultivate that habit.
14 .Sharing the Bed
Mothers and babies who sleep together or sleep within reach of each other, share the same sleep cycles. And a special bond too. Plus these mothers get good sleep.
13 Quieten the Bedroom
Some babies are used to loud sounds, but some babies startle and wake up easily with sudden disturbing sounds like the bedroom door or bathroom door creaking, the crib making a squeaky sound, the dog barking, the notifications ringing on the cell phone, etc.
To help your baby sleep soundly without such disturbances, oil the hinges of the doors and the springs of the crib, send the dog out and put your mobile on silent mode.
12 Darken the Bedroom
Darken the bedroom your baby sleeps in by using shades or blinds to keep the light out of the bedroom as the first rays of sunshine enter the room and awaken your baby from his/her sleep.
11 Clear Their Nose
In the early months of their birth, infants need clear nasal passages to breathe. Allergies and dust can cause stuffy noses and consequent night waking. So, free your baby’s bedroom from dust. Use a good air filter in the room to help your baby sleep better.
10 Relieve Your Baby From Teething Pain
Teething discomfort may start as early as three months and continue off and on till your baby gets his/her two-year molars. You may not yet be able to feel your baby’s teeth, but you can look for clues like a wet bed sheet under your baby’s head, a drool rash on the cheeks and chin, swollen and tender gums, and a slight fever might be your night time culprit.
See your doctor and follow your doctor’s suggestion.
9 Change Wet or Soiled Diapers
Some babies can’t sleep in wet diapers at night. Some babies experience a bowel movement during or immediately after a feed. Therefore, maintain your baby’s hygiene and change the diaper when your baby wets or passes stool. Avoid diaper rash.
Personally, I never used diapers on my kids in the night!
8 Change Uncomfortable Sleepwear
Babies are mostly not comfortable in synthetic sleepwear and tight clothes. Some babies are allergic to new clothes, detergents and fabric softeners and may develop skin rashes. Instead dress your baby in a soft pure cotton sleepwear and wash your baby clothes in mild detergents. Avoid making your baby wear new clothes without washing them first.
7 Discard Airborne Irritants
Irritants may congest breathing passages and awaken baby from sleep. So any irritants or allergens that may keep your baby from sleeping like cigarette smoke, baby powder, paints, hair spray, perfumes, soft toys, dusty mattress, blankets, pillows, new clothes and any pets like dog or cat that your baby is allergic to, should be kept away from your baby, dusted and cleaned up.
6 Create the Right Bedroom Temperature
Dry air can make your baby have a stuffy nose and in turn keep him awake in the night time. So, make the room the appropriate temperature so your baby can get to sleep, and maintain a consistent bedroom temperature of around 70 degrees F and a relative humidity of around 50%. You can even install a vaporizer in your baby’s sleep area.
5 Share Your Nighttime Parenting Responsibility with Your Partner
Your baby should also experience bonding with his/her father and feel and understand the father’s way of comforting them and putting them to sleep. It also helps mothers take a break, because babies who assume their mother to be available all the time to breast feed won’t be comforted by another person.
You should also keep a familiar smell beside your baby.
4 Stop the Clock
Don’t look at the clock to see how long you’ve been awake when putting your baby to sleep or feeding your baby in the middle of the night. It will only make you tensed and anxious to get back to sleep, or it may encourage you to rush your baby making him/her feel anxious and insecure.
Try understanding your baby’s waking up as a genuine need, feed and cuddle and snuggle up with your baby and enjoy the bonding.
3 Taking Your Baby for a Drive
If all the above transitioning techniques have been well tested and tried and your baby still resists falling asleep, then drive your baby around in your car in their car seat until your baby falls asleep. After you return from the long drive, take your baby in the car seat to the baby’s room and put the baby in the bed only if you see the baby fast asleep.
Frankly, I’m against this method because once the baby knows the easy way to go to sleep s/he may start throwing tantrums to make it a daily affair of driving him/her around.
2 Find the Medical Causes of Night Waking
After trying all these tactics, if you still notice your baby is staying awake because of pain, then you may need to worry that there may be some medical problem which needs immediate attention by your baby’s pediatrician.
1 Avoid Calling for a Sleep Trainer
Since many parents turn to parenting books for help, Sleep Trainers have become the latest fad with their magic formula to get babies to sleep through the night and all for a huge price and risk. Many of these sleep-training techniques are simply variations of the old cry-it-out method. Don’t leave your baby alone to cry. Don’t trust your baby in the hands of someone who has no biological attachment with your baby.
Be aware that these Sleep Trainer’s claims and promises to get your baby to sleep through these programs involve the risk of creating a distance between you and your baby and wrecking the mutual trust between you as a parent and your baby. You will miss the opportunity to bond with your baby and you might not recognize your baby’s biological cues anymore.
Chances are that you may miss the reasons your baby is not sleeping by using a Sleep trainer. It could be some hidden medical cause
Dwell on what changes you can make in yourself and your lifestyle that will make it easier for you to meet your baby’s needs. No single approach will work with all babies all the time or even all the time with the same baby. Develop a night time parenting style that works for you best.
Find what suits the temperament and needs of your baby and your own lifestyle. If that approach is working, stick to it and if it doesn’t, don’t fret but be open to try some other method.
Listen to your heart and your instincts instead of listening to a sleep-trainer’s advice, and you and your baby will sooner or later be able to work out the perfect night time parenting approach that suits you and your entire family.
Each method has its own advocate and a critic, but there is definitely a good chance that one of the tactics or approaches could work well for you and your baby. Trust me!
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