They say the start of parenting are nights without sleep. Frustrated? As a mother, I understand the struggle and want to help you and your baby get a good night’s sleep. I gathered these 7 tricks to help your little one get to bed, stay asleep, and wake up when you want.
Sleep-Train Smoothly to Help Babies Sleep:
A bedtime routine with 2 to 3 calming activities can get your child settle down before going to sleep. If you want to feed your baby, whether it's breastfeeding or bottle feeding, you want to do it first in the bedtime routine. Then get changed or read a couple of books before lying on the bed. After putting your child in bed, you should get yourself out of the picture in a quiet way as much as possible. You may start rubbing your child's back, then after a while stop rubbing and finally get out of the room
Believe in the power of a bedtime routine.
Researches show that the more nights during the week your baby follows a bedtime routine, the better she’ll sleep. Try an evening bath to mark the end of the day; even if you skip the soap, the warm water can induce drowsiness.
Offer one last feed
Before you or your partner go to sleep, gently wake your infant to nurse or bottle-feed. (This will help him wake less often in the coming hours.) Then put him back down while he’s still awake but drowsy.
Make it fun.
It’s normal for a toddler to resist bedtime, kids this age want to practice their newfound independence. Give her choices: Would she like to stomp up the stairs like an elephant to get to her room or tiptoe like a mouse? You can also create a DIY chart together that shows every step of her bedtime routine. This way, you choose when your toddler goes to sleep, but she gets to pick the details and learn to be responsible.
Build a Better Bedtime Routine
Experts recommend that a good bedtime routine is one that has 3 to 4 steps that follows the exact same order every night. With a newborn, they can be something as simple as washing up, singing a lullaby etc. When your child gets older, you might want to add things like taking a bath, doing a massage, reading a story, etc any calming activity that works best for your child, you and your family.
Head to bed sooner.
You might think this will lead to an earlier morning, but both babies and toddlers wake up less often and get more sleep when they hit the sack earlier. Shoot for a bedtime of 7:30 or 8 p.m. for your toddler and expect him to sleep for about ten hours.
Delay an early riser.
While you can’t change a newborn’s wake-up time (he’ll cry when he’s hungry), you can adjust a toddler’s. Try using a wake-up light. You can schedule it to glow at a certain hour so he’ll know exactly when it’s okay to call you or burst through your door.
Putting your child to bed when he's afraid of the dark. Giving assurance is what parents do but be aware of giving excessive reassurance. Constantly checking under the bed or in the closet can make him think that parents believe monsters are real, too. Having some fun in the dark can get your child used to the dark, realizing everything is still the same without light and being able to be calm on their own. Try games like picking toys and guess what it is in the dark or even run to see who will switch the light off first. After that, try to help your child identify and be proud to be the kid who can be alone in the dark. Finally, a little reward like a special breakfast for being brave and calm throughout the night should encourage the routine.
Don't rely on soothing methods.
"If you put your baby in her crib when she's already asleep and she wakes up in the night, which all humans do, she won't recognize her surroundings and will need your help getting back to sleep," notes Deborah Givan, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Riley Hospital for Children, in Indianapolis. "Try to put your baby down drowsy but awake."This will help her learn to self-soothe and fall asleep—and, more importantly, back to sleep—on her own, which is the main goal of parenting.
Adrienne can attest to this. She began driving her newborn around at night to get her to fall asleep, she was still relying on that when her daughter was 5 months old. "The issue we get the most calls about is parents automatically repeating soothing habits to the point that the baby is hooked," sleep consultant Heather Turgeon, co-author of The Happy Sleeper. Newborns benefit from rocking, bouncing, and soothing to sleep, but babies develop quickly and don't need those things forever.
We've got to give babies the chance to learn this stuff themselves. "By about 5 months, most babies have the capability to fall asleep on their own, and if we're still doing it for them, we're getting in their way," says Turgeon. "Start practicing in the early months to put baby down awake, at least once a day—usually the first nap is the most successful." Keep your cuddle time, but gradually stop the patting and shushing and rocking to sleep.
Set napping guidelines
As tempting as it is to let your sweetie snooze in her car seat while you're on the go, or lie on your chest while you catch up on Netflix shows, you should try early on for at least one nap a day in her crib, so she gets the quality rest she needs. "The first nap is mentally restorative for an infant and will dictate how the entire day goes, so ideally you want her to have that one in her crib at home," notes Prueher. "The second is physically restorative, so once your baby's old enough to be moving around a lot, she really needs that one to be quality too."
By 3 to 4 months of age, your baby will have longer awake periods, and you can work toward a nap schedule: one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and a short late-afternoon nap if needed. Naps are a great time for you to practice putting baby down drowsy, adds Prueher. It's not the middle of the night, so you can think more clearly, pick up on cues, and follow through.
If you have any tips that worked for you, please share them in the comments.
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