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 sleep cycle.

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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