Sleepless babies = sleepless parents
After your baby is born, the idea of 6-8 hours of straight sleep a night can seem like a distant memory. It’s important to set a routine early to get your baby to sleep through the night. The routine should include items that help relax your baby. This can include dimming lights, reading stories, or massaging them. This can make them more relaxed and likely to fall asleep.
The search for a full night of sleep
Your child might be sensitive to their room. Some parents think their babies need bundling in multiple layers; however, this can overheat your child. Feel the back of their neck and ears, if they are warm then remove some clothing or blankets. Clothing tags or the amount of light in the room can also bother your child. You can try removing tags, dimming lights and using different sheets.
You might be surprised to learn that it’s possible to not have enough stimulation in your child’s room. This is common for young babies as they heard white noise in the uterus. Have a fan or a baby mobile for white noise. Having a device with sounds that mimic being in the womb can also be helpful.
Teaching your baby to self soothe
It’s one of the worst sounds a parent can hear: their baby crying after putting them down for bed. Your first reaction might be to comfort them. While they are very young this can be a good idea, but when trying to get them to sleep through the night, this can have the opposite effect. This is because they may end up needing you to hold them to fall asleep. Every time they wake up through the night you will need to hold them until they fall back asleep. This can make it difficult for your partner or a babysitter to get your child to sleep.
There are some approaches you can try to get your baby to self soothe. The first is Ferberizing, named after Richard Ferber M.D., director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Babies make associations with falling asleep so use the same routine each time you put them down. If you pick up your child as part of their sleeping routine, they might want it every time they wake up. Put them in their crib, say good night to your baby and leave the room. If they start crying, wait 5 minutes then enter the room. Continue adding 5 minutes to your wait time and about a week later your baby should sleep better. This approach typically takes seven days to help your baby sleep through the night.
Scheduled awakenings are the next method. It can seem like a bad idea to wake your child during the night, but you will be in control of their sleep schedule. If you find your child wakes at the same times during the night, start waking them up 15 minutes before. By adding 15 minutes each night before you go into your baby’s room, you will teach them to sleep through the night or fall back asleep on their own. This approach can take up to three to four weeks for your baby to sleep through the night.
Using naps to your advantage
If your baby is having trouble sleeping through the night, it might be because they didn’t get enough sleep during the day. It might seem counter intuitive to think that if your child doesn’t get enough sleep during the day, he or she will be awake at night. But having a good daytime nap routine can help your child sleep at night. How many naps should a baby have during the day? There is no “right” answer but usually once a baby reaches 4 months old, they have two naps a day. Putting your baby down for one nap in the morning and one in the afternoon will allow you to work on your to-do list. Better yet: take some well-earned time to yourself while your little one is asleep
You will get back to full night sleeps
It’s a struggle every parent faces, having your baby wake you up through the night. Once you get your baby to sleep regularly through the night it’s a win for you both. Relive the magical feeling of having more than a couple hours of sleep in a row. However, every baby is different. What worked for your friends and family may not work for your baby. The advice listed above can help you develop a toolkit to get you and your baby to sleep through the night.
https://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-training-the-basics_1505715.bc (Updated 2016)
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/ Pages/Calming-A-Fussy-Baby.aspx (2016)
https://www.babycenter.com/0_top-baby-sleep-mistakes-and-how-to-avoidthem_10303189.bc (Updated 2016)
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