How to Get Your Baby to Sleep
Have you ever thought of lending your baby to someone for, say, a few days or just overnight? Ok ok, don’t freak out! Just kidding. However, this is a common enough thought among mothers if you ask me. Mommies all around the globe seem to be looking for the answer to the same question: how to get a baby to sleep through the night? And when they don’t find the answer (which is a common enough situation, too), they must definitely have thought of sending their baby for a few nights over to someone…anyone…who is crazy enough to accept the offer. But the problem is: there aren’t many crazy people out there. What a pity!
What to do then? Good question. The answer is equally good: trial and error. Yes, it all depends upon choosing the right method that suits the needs of both you and your baby. It is a fact that same methods do not work for every baby, so your job is to try out all the recommended methods of getting your baby to sleep and come up with the one that you deem the best. Today, I’ll discuss a few methods mothers are seen using often to get their child to sleep with ease.
New parents tend to swaddle their infants to put them to sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), swaddling can prove to be an effective method to calm the baby and promote sleep when done correctly. Swaddling, basically, is a process which imitates the feel of a mother’s womb by wrapping a soft blanket around the baby and immediately putting him/her at ease. However, there is an age limit for swaddling. “I would stop swaddling by age 2 months, before the baby intentionally starts to try to roll,” Dr. Moon says. “If babies are swaddled, they should be placed only on their back and monitored so they don’t accidentally roll over.”
Set a Bedtime Routine
How many times have you heard yourself (or other mothers) lament: “my baby won’t sleep at night!”? Countless times, I’m guessing. This is because you have failed to set a proper bedtime routine for your child in his/her early months after birth. From the third month, it is good to set a short routine for the baby’s sleep schedule. Try to provide at least a half-an-hour-quiet-time before sleeping by turning off television and other noise-causing devices and winding down regular domestic activities to set the scene. This way, your baby will understand it’s time to sleep. However, remember this: consistency is the key here. It will probably take a long time before your baby settles down with the routine. Just don’t give up!
Keep the Baby’s Room Dark
It is a good idea to keep the lighting low in the room where your baby normally sleeps. Exposure to harsh light especially during sleeping hours is often associated with overstimulation in babies resulting in a disrupted sleep cycle. This may not bode well for you as a mother who will have to face a crying baby who refuses to sleep. It is also crucial to keep the room dark as it will help the child understand the concept of night time. When the baby wakes up, be it in the morning or after a nap, draw the curtains or increase the light to help him/her understand the difference.
Avoid Changing the Diaper
If your child can tolerate a wet diaper through the night, it is advisable not to disturb his/her sleep to change it. Also, it is recommended not to change the diapers every time your child wakes up since there is a risk of him/her getting all alert and fully awake. Definitely not a good idea, now is it?! Instead, you should use highly absorbing good quality diapers which can stay dry for maximum time duration, apply a rash cream, clean the baby only when s/he poops and keep the wipes warm to give him/her a comfortably deep sleep through the night.
Warm the Sheets
After feeding your baby, it is not a good idea to put him/her on cold sheets. The jarring effect of the chilly crib sheets, particularly in winters, is not much sleep-inducing and may cause your child to come fully awake. In such cases, get ready for a night time disaster! When you pick the child for feeding, it is a good idea to put a hot-water bottle in his/her bed—not pillows, comforters, quilts and other soft objects since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the National Institutes of Child Health (NICHD) recommend not to use these materials around the baby for dangers of suffocation.
Dress them Comfortably
I have often seen mothers complaining that their baby wakes up at night. They tend to think the baby is feeling pain in his/her body somewhere or s/he is hungry, but seem to overlook a very obvious explanation for the baby’s discomfort. It is very much possible the baby’s dress is the problem: sometimes, babies develop sensitivity to synthetic fibers that may hinder their sleep. Although pajamas are very much in vogue and look cute, they may not be the best choice for your child after all. Instead, it is wise to dress your baby in soft and natural fabrics like cotton to avoid irritation.
Give your Child a Gentle Massage
Studies show that babies who are given a gentle 15 minutes massage before their regular sleeping time fall asleep faster than those who are, for example, only read a bedtime story. Soft strokes and moderate pressure are crucial in this regard as they relieve the baby’s muscles of any stress or exhaustion they can catch during the day. This way, the baby feels relaxed, falls asleep real quick and is likely to enjoy a deep, unbroken sleep and wake up fresh and happy.
Create White Noise
Your baby gets habitual of soothing noises like the rhythm of your beating heart when s/he is sleeping smugly inside your womb; these become welcome noises for the child. During the early months after the birth of your baby, it is crucial to maintain that environment for him/her otherwise s/he can experience overstimulation. Don’t give the baby a silent treatment; use a white noise machine around your child or turn on the fan especially when it is time for him/her to sleep.
All the above-mentioned methods are guidelines on how to put the baby to sleep. However, if your baby is still awake even after trying all these methods, it is time for you to get creative. You may want to observe your baby’s habits and comfort zones to come up with a workable idea. Remember: you are the mother, and mothers know best.
Have you employed any of these ideas for your baby? What is your experience? Would you like to add anything? Let us hear from you in the comments.