If you are a new parent, you are likely enchanted, elated, and exhausted. You are probably wondering if your baby will ever let you sleep again. One of the common questions that new parents ask is How to get baby to sleep through the night.
When your baby first comes home from the hospital, it is normal for the baby to wake up during the night. The most common causes of this is hunger, and needing to be changed.
Once you take care of these needs, a newborn will likely go back to sleep. Most parents understand that newborns will wake up during the night. By the age of six, months, the frequency of night waking should diminish. Though there may still be a few nighttime disturbances on occasion – after all, a baby is new to the world and doesn’t know the rules yet! Read on for top tips for helping your baby to sleep through the night.
Speak to your child’s doctor about baby sleep problems
Before you try any baby sleep aids, it is important to rule out any medical conditions. This is especially true for newborn infants. While it is common and normal for them to wake up for feedings, if your baby is constantly crying or only sleeping for short amounts of time, call the doctor. The baby may be suffering from tummy issues, or even acid reflux or other medical issue.
Clearly make daytime and nighttime different
During the day keep your routine – don’t quiet things down for nap time. Be active, and allow baby to be active as well. Play- even very young babies can have some playtime on the floor and this will help to relax them and promote better sleep quality.
Read baby a book – this adds enormously to you baby’s experience and learning growth and imprints basic language structure on his/her very plastic and accommodating brain. Listen to music, take a walk – live normally. During the night quiet things down naturally and you can keep the lights and voices low. Be particularly aware of artificial blue light which has severe detrimental effects on the sleeping patterns every human being.
This is how your baby will learn that day and night are different and that night is for more restful activities and sleep (at least until it’s a teenager and the madness sets in!). This is a key part of baby sleep science – conditioning the child to know that nighttime is quiet time.
Have a bedtime routine
Babies need a routine; this is as true for the very young ones as it is for teenagers. A routine makes a child feel secure and embeds patterns in his/her behavior – after a while they know what to expect and they respond to it with regular sleeping and waking patterns. Furthermore, it enables a child to know what to expect. When you establish a before bedtime routine it helps your child mentally, and physically to prepare for sleep.
So about an hour or so before bed, begin to wind down gently; give your baby a bath, read a book, and give him/her a bottle- (don’t you just loooove that bit?!) Then gently, and quietly, settle your child in his or her crib. Music can be especially helpful at this phase (more about that in another article, but here’s a hint – very soft classical music can help, or even some lulling vocal music by a band like Clannad!).
Some children enjoy listening to the music for a familiar wind-up musical toy, so if your child has one, wind it up and turn the night light on while the sound runs (if there is one.)
Finally, whisper your gentle, loving ‘goodnight’ and leave the room.
How to handle babies who cry when you leave the room
First determine that nothing is wrong; your baby may need to be changed, or may not be feeling well. He or she may even be feeling discomfort due to the temperature of the room. But don’t rush! baby may just be reacting to your sudden departure, and if he/she is really tired and relaxed, the crying period will be brief – just a few minutes.
Many baby sleep books recognize this and recommend not going back into the room for at least 10 minutes once you have said goodnight and left. Many times, before the ten minutes are up the baby will calm himself down and go to sleep. Another benefit is that baby will learn instinctively that there’s nothing wrong when you leave, and learn to calm himself.
BUT – if the crying continues for longer than ten minutes, go back into the room – but do not pick the baby up immediately. Speak soothingly to the baby, and walk out again. If you give in and pick the baby up the child will learn that crying gets him out of his bed.
Continue doing this until the baby finally falls asleep. While this is tiring for the parents, eventually the baby will learn that bedtime means bed. Be warned, it can take several days or even weeks but, it will be worth it when your baby is sleeping through the night.
Sleep Aids for Toddlers
Sometimes, your medical practitioner will suggest a safe sleep aid for your toddler – maybe melatonin. Of course, only a qualified medical practitioner can make such recommendations. We have an article on melatonin for toddlers that will give you a basic understanding so that you can discuss the possibility with your doctor.
Stay calm and relaxed
Babies will pick up on it if you are tense and stressed. This can make them feel anxious, which will inhibit their ability to sleep. Do your best to relax during your baby’s before-bed routine. Of course, this can be difficult when you’re tired. Try to keep your sense of humor. Soon this lack of sleep will be a distant memory. At least until the child is grown and staying out late – but that’s a nightmare for later in life hehehe!!!
Summary of Baby Sleep Tips
Follow the above tips and try not worry too much. Nap when you can, and don’t feel guilty about it. Stay calm and keep the following in mind: While right now your concern is baby not sleeping, in several years, when this baby turns into a teenager, he or she will be sleeping way more you than you think appropriate. Then your problem will be getting this child out of bed, at least during the day.
Teens rarely seem to sleep at night. Enjoy your baby. Try to teach him or her to calm themselves. Get them into a routine that focuses on nighttime being the time for sleep. Keep at it and don’t give up. Just when you start to feel that you may never sleep through the night again, everything clicks and baby starts sleeping through the night.
The SleepSense Program
Many anxious parents feel the need for a bit more guidance – which sometimes even grandma and granddad can’t provide. So I’m going to give you a link here to a fabulous and proven program designed just for you. It will be a day or two before I post my assessment/review of the program, but if you want to skip straight to the source and see it for yourself, then just click on the banner below. And good luck with your lovely baby – treasure these times – they only come around once for each bundle of joy!