The first few months of having a baby are unarguably the most difficult and you’ll be lucky if you can get eight hours of sleep without being awoken several times by a screaming baby in the other room. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to get a full night of sleep with a newborn, if not impossible. Most moms begin worrying about sleep deprivation long before they purchase their first maternity clothes – but nothing can prepare them for the never ending late-night feeds that await them once they bring home the baby.
Unlike adults, infants are not even capable of differentiating between night and day, let alone staying asleep throughout the night. Most babies get their sleep in fragments throughout the day and they often get hungry during the night since their little bellies cannot hold enough milk to keep them satiated for more than a few hours. But if you’re horrified by imagining uncountable sleepless nights ahead, I must assure you that, like every problem, your child’s sporadic sleep schedule also has a solution; and even though it may take a while before he develops a consistent habit of sleeping through the night, with some work and patience, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep without having to perform mom duties during wee hours of the night.
Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep through the Night
Tip 1: Minimize Stimulation
When your child’s bedtime is nearing, the last thing you want is for him to be wide awake wanting to play with you instead of falling asleep. As you lay your baby down, minimize any stimulation to hinder his drowsiness as he winds down for the night. Instead of engaging him in a playful way which might get him too hyperactive to fall asleep, opt for a story book or a calming lullaby to soothe his brain and help him fall asleep easily.
Tip 2: Give the baby a warm bath
Warm baths have been proven as a great relaxing technique before bedtime and there is no reason why it shouldn’t work on a baby. Use a lavender infused shower gel to bathe your baby for additional soothing effect that will surely help him stay asleep for longer throughout the night.
Tip 3: Try the Ferber Method
We know that the concerned mother in you wants to rush to comfort your baby every time he wakes up crying in the night but some experts suggest that this may not be the solution to the problem in the long run. Your child will associate sleep with whatever effort you make to soothe him at night whether it be rocking him to sleep or giving him a feed every time he wakes up; he may eventually become dependent on you and not learn how to fall back to sleep without being gently rocked in your arms which is why the Ferber method suggests that children can be taught to fall back to sleep on their own during the night without requiring a help from the parents.
To try the Ferber method with your kids, follow these steps at night:
Step 1: Place the baby gently in his cot and leave the room to allow him to fall asleep on his own.
Step 2: If the baby starts crying after you leave, enter the room to comfort him with your voice without picking him up.
Step 3: If the baby cries again after you leave, wait for 5 minutes before going back into the room to comfort him in the similar manner as before.
Step 4: The next time he cries, wait for 10 minutes, 15 minutes and so on before soothing him – increasing the time interval by 5 minute increments each night – until he is finally able to fall asleep on his own.
Tip 4: Prevent your baby from becoming over-tired
Letting a baby stay up past his bedtime is one of the biggest mistakes parents make which contributes to the infant’s fussy sleeping habits. Children need ample of rest to relax their tiny brains and they run a risk of getting over-tired if not put to bed in a timely manner. Overtiredness is one of the leading causes of restless in children which can interrupt their sleep and make them cranky during the night.
To determine if your toddler’s bedtime is approaching, look for signs of drowsiness in him like yawning or eye-rubbing. Avoid giving evening naps since it can disrupt the baby’s sleep schedule and keep him up past his bedtime.
Tip 5: Have a consistent bedtime routine
Determine a fixed sleep schedule for your toddler and adhere to it; your baby will automatically respond to the routine and start showing signs of drowsiness when bedtime approaches. Having a fixed bedtime routine will set your baby’s internal clock in a rhythm and he will start falling asleep on his own without your help.
Make sure your baby is comfortable
By comfortable I mean he is well-dressed, properly fed and kept in an environment free of disturbances or distractions. Do a night-time feed before putting your child to bed so that he doesn’t wake up hungry during the night. If your baby is used to waking up at a certain time for another feed, set an alarm half an hour before his usual wake time to give a dream feed while he is still asleep. This will prevent him from getting into the habit of waking up at wee hours to demand for food.
When you lay the baby in his cot, close all windows to ensure that no cold wind wakes him up at night. If it is still bright outside, shut the blinds completely so that no light pours through the window during the night. The darker it is in your baby’s room, the easier it is for him to fall and stay asleep at night.
Sleeping attire is an equally important factor for ensuring that your baby gets proper rest and doesn’t rouse in the middle of the night feeling cold or uneasy. Invest in a comfortable sleeping bag for your baby so that he stays warm and cozy at night. Read more about the best sleeping bags for your baby by clicking here.
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