Did you know that studies indicate that as many as 90 percent of all parents would change something about their baby’s nighttime routine if they could? Feel better now?Obviously, many parents are going through the same challenging issues you’re facing with your baby at bedtime, so don’t feel so alone and stress too much!Still, it’s tough when you feel like your baby is never going to sleep through the night – we know.That’s especially true for first-time parents, many of whom become convinced that everything they do is wrong and that their baby is paying the price by becoming sleep deprived.But in all likelihood, you’re doing almost everything right, because what your baby needs most of all is unconditional love and devotion, and you’re giving them that in spades, right?A few tweaks to your baby’s nighttime routine will make them sleep soundly and for longer and longer stretches.Once you’ve instituted these steps for a few weeks, you’ll find that your baby is sleeping better, longer and more comfortably than you ever thought possible. And if the baby sleeps soundly, the mom has a chance to sleep soundly too. That means everyone is happier and more well-rested!
1- Careful How Long You Let Daytime Naps Run
It’s tempting to allow your baby to sleep as long as they like during the day, particularly if you’re sleep-deprived as a new mom. But the more they sleep during the day, the less well they sleep at night, so don’t let naps go longer than two and a half hours, at most!This depends in part on how old your infant is, of course – newborn babies sleep almost right through the day, except when they wake for feedings. But by the time they are three or four months old, starting rousing them to play when they’ve been asleep for over two hours, and they’ll be more ready for bed when the time comes.
2- Develop a Structured Routine At Bedtime
Babies need order; it helps them cope with a wildly stimulating world that constantly comes at them from all directions.Be sure they’ve got a fresh diaper on before bed, turn down the lights, and swaddle them in a cozy onesie and snug blanket. Then cradle them in your arms and sing – any song will do, providing your voice is calm and quiet.Turn on a white noise machine (we’ll get to this step!) and gently put your baby in the crib. Pause for a few moments if you wish to make sure the baby is comfortable. You shouldn’t stand there staring until your baby falls asleep, no matter how tempted you are!Babies are drowsy before bedtime, and they will fall asleep quickly and easily once you’re out of the room.
3- Consider Getting a White Noise Machine
These devices are wonderful for folks who live in busy areas with a lot of traffic or for those who live with someone who snores loudly. They give off a low, constant hum, much like a fan, seaside waves, or even an air conditioning unit.Because the sound is steady and at a continuous frequency, it lulls people to sleep. The same principle applies if you put one in your nursery. Furthermore, if you live in a busy household that can’t be dead quiet because the baby is sleeping, it’s a great alternative to constantly shushing everyone.With a white noise machine in the baby’s room, the teenager down the hall who needs music to do their studying can play it, no problem. A white noise machine, on low, gives your baby’s auditory senses something to focus on other than the irregular hum of an active household.
4- Resist Rushing In At the Slightest Sound
It isn’t easy to keep from running into your baby’s room at the first sound of them waking, we know! But wait outside the nursery door for 60 seconds or so before going in and picking the baby up for a cuddle.Many babies actually make soft noises while they are still asleep, and others rouse for a moment, then fall straight back to sleep when we let them.This practice encourages babies to fall asleep on their own sometimes, and that’s the goal as they get older.
5- Careful Where You Let Them Fall Asleep
By the time a baby is four or five months old, most can fall asleep alone. If you cuddle and stay with them until they are asleep and then put them in their crib, it’s not helping them.Babies often startle awake in the night, and if they’ve fallen asleep in their crib without you, they won’t feel frightened when they wake in the night – they’ll know where they are. But if they fall asleep in your bed and rouse at 3 a.m. in their room, the surroundings may feel unfamiliar, and they may start crying.
6- Don’t Feed Them And Put Them Straight To Bed
This guideline changes depending on your baby’s age, of course. Newborns should be fed on demand. But within a few months, start feeding them an hour or two before bedtime, so they don’t associate food with sleep.That’s a tough cycle to break once it starts, and it isn’t healthy once your baby is no longer a newborn.
7- Stick To a Set Bedtime
We all know what happens when grandma and grandpa drop in for a visit after supper and beg you to keep their precious grandchild awake for a longer visit – we’ve all fallen into that trap! It’s okay once in a great while, but don’t keep your baby awake past 7:30 p.m.Most nights at the latest, depending on the baby’s age. In winter, that’s not a problem because the sun has long since set by that hour. But in summer, it can be harder to get a baby to fall asleep because we have so many more hours of daylight. In those months, make sure the blinds are down or the curtains drawn, making the room as dark – and as quiet — as possible.
8- Don’t Make Yourself Crazy About This
New parents, especially, tend to read scads of material on “correct” sleep habits for babies, from newborns to 18 months, and drive themselves crazy if their baby is not adhering to everything they read.While being informed is important, it is equally important that you set the guidelines and stick to them when trying to institute a solid sleep routine that works for everyone.
Babies all need three things: lots of sleep, lots of nourishment, and lots of love. Oh, and a clean, fresh diaper!Make sure your baby has these things, and you’re bound to have a happy, contented and well-rested infant. Develop a firm sleep routine and stick to it as much as you possibly can.After all, it’s not only good for the baby – it’s good for the mom, too. And a happy mom means a happy household, right?!And it is true; lasting happiness comes from an intentional effort to put the right habits for you and your family in place!