Helping Baby Sleep Through the Night
Why is it So Hard to Get My Baby to Sleep Through the Night?
A lot of mums and dads blame themselves when baby won't sleep through the
night, but it's usually not their fault.
If you're having trouble getting baby to sleep, realize that you're not
alone. Getting baby to sleep through the night is not a skill you have to
develop, so don't be hard on yourself!
Having said that, there are a few tips for helping baby sleep. We'll have a
look at those which have been given the parental "tick of approval".
First decide if there really is a problem. A lot of parents don't mind a few
"night interruptions", but feel they should be doing more about getting baby to
sleep. Trust me, your baby will sleep when he wants to. If he's fine during the
day, stop worrying!
Most parents fit in to the category of tired, sleep deprived, no time to do
anything or "help! I need my sleep!" So read on...
It won't last for ever. Whatever you do or don't do, realize this is a
stage which will pass. However helping baby sleep from the word go will
establish good sleep patterns for childhood and beyond.
Infant sleep habits
From the time they're born to around 3 months old, most babies will sleep 15
to 18 hours out of 24 hours. This sleep is normally taken in 3 to four hour
stretches. This is quite normal as your baby needs feeding on a regular basis.
When feeding him at night, just feed and change him and put him back to bed.
This isn't the time for games or other stimulating activities. Even at this age
he will start to realize the difference between day and night.
Babies like routines, it helps them feel secure. If you repeat the same
behaviour every night at bedtime, this will be their signal that sleep time is
here and they will start winding down (even if they don't realize they're doing
it!) So if he's used to having a bath at the same time every night, or enjoying
a bedtime story and a cuddle, just before he goes to sleep, keep on doing it.
Both parents can take it in turns for these activities, that way it's not
just you that gets associated with bedtime. So if you need or want to go out at
night, bedtime won't be a major drama for the other parent.
Even when he's older, a routine always works well at bed time. Even we
adults benefit from having a bed time routine!
Put him to sleep on his back and place him with his feet at the bottom of the
crib or cot. This makes sure his head won't end up below the blankets. If he
won't settle without a pacifier, let him have one. It's far better than a bottle
and he's got no teeth to worry about yet! Recent research still shows that a
pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS.
Put him to bed before he falls asleep, he'll learn to associate his
cot with sleep. If your baby has to rocked to sleep you may be setting yourself
and your baby up for sleep problems. Breaking this habit may be painful for a
few nights but worth it in the long run.
A sleep routine for older babies
Keep baby active during the day. If you're able to, play with her and give
her stimulating things to do. This'll send the message that daytime is for
activity and you'll be helping baby sleep better at night time.
If your baby or toddler has naps during the day, don't let them snooze for
too long. They will go into the deep sleep stage and may disrupt their normal
If your schedule permits, try to fit in with your baby's routine. She may be
bright early in the morning or she may be an evening person. This is her basic
pattern, so fighting it can lead to much unnecessary stress! One caveat however,
if she's sleeping more than 10 hours at night, it's best to wake her in the
morning to reset her sleep cycle. If you do this at the same time each morning
she'll learn to do it by herself.
Don't let her stay up too late thinking it will tire her out. She'll become
overtired and actually fight sleep.
If she won't settle when you put her to bed, let her grizzle for a bit. If
you rush in each time she cries she'll soon realize how it works and you'll have
no peace! If she cries for too long you may need to soothe her though. Try to do
this without getting her out of her cot.
The best thing you can do is helping baby sleep on her own, whether
it's when she first goes to bed or if she wakes up in the middle of the night.
You will be helping her form good sleep habits for life and giving yourself some
well earned rest at the same time.
There's no hard and fast rules for helping baby sleep, what works for one may
not work for all. Take what works and ignore what doesn't. Above all enjoy your
baby and the time you spend together.
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