Eight Ways to Help Your Baby Have the Best Night’s Sleep
Helpful tips to make sure everyone sleeps well.
By Taryn Skinner
After giving your baby a bath, you dress him in his pajamas and place him in his cot. He quickly falls asleep, not waking again until morning. Wouldn’t that be great? Truthfully, babies are born without the ability to self soothe, and need help learning how to sleep effectively.
By having a consistent bedtime routine, you make it easier for your baby to know when it is time for sleep. Try a calming bath and a reading of his favorite book. Keep things quiet and remove as much stimulus as you can. You should allow your baby to have lots of time to play during the day so that he doesn’t have excess energy when it comes time for bed. Figure out what works for you! Some babies are energized by a bath! If that’s the case, move bath time to earlier in the day and replace it with some rocking or singing.
Putting your baby down while he is still awake should be practiced from birth. If your baby becomes dependent on nursing or rocking in order to fall sleep, he may have trouble sleeping as he gets older. By putting him down awake, he can learn to self soothe and ultimately drift off into dreamland.
When your little one cries it is hard to ignore! While you should always be attentive to your baby’s needs, you should not rush to them at the slightest movement or sound. If you do this, you run the risk of waking a baby who was in the middle of self-soothing. It is very possible that they will fall back asleep on their own. Give your baby 5 minutes or so to fuss, allowing them to learn self-soothing techniques.
Keeping a baby’s room cool and dark helps them stay comfortable and sleep longer. If rooms are hot and humid your baby can get too warm. This could keep them from reaching deeper sleep. Try adding a fan to circulate air. Nightlights are okay, but avoid having them too close to your baby, even a dim light might be too bright depending on its location.
Newborns should be dressed in one more layer than you are. Depending on temperature, most newborns can sleep in a footed onesie alone, or layered with a wearable blanket or swaddle. In warmer months, if you wish to swaddle or put a blanket on your baby, you may want to change what they have on underneath. Remember, how warm a baby’s feet or hands are is not a good indicator of how warm they are. Babies have bad circulation, check the nape of their neck, if they are sweating chances are you need to remove a layer.
White noise machines and sound machines can be used to block out unwelcome sound in baby’s room. Some white noise can emulate the sounds that your baby heard in the womb, creating a comforting environment. There is no need to be extra quiet when your baby is sleeping, but if you are worried about noise outside such as people or traffic, a white noise machine can help drown them out.
Each baby is different, so what works for one may not work for the next. Some babies benefit from having a pacifier, it fulfills their natural desire to suck to calm themselves. Some babies are happy to sleep in just a onesie, but others are constantly woken up by their startle reflex. The use of a swaddle can calm this reflex and keep baby comfortable.
It might be temping to pull out your phone and scroll through social media when your baby wakes at night but doing this can disrupt their ability to fall back asleep. Keep nighttime feedings and changings boring. Avoid using your phone or having extra lights on. Make sure baby knows that nighttime is not playtime!
Getting babies to sleep is one of the biggest obstacles new parents face. By starting healthy sleep habits early, you can train your baby to get great sleep. Each baby is unique and what works for one may not work for the next. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with holding your baby, nursing your baby, or rocking your baby in order to get them to sleep, get those baby cuddles in while you can! Your baby will be an independent toddler before you know it. Find out what works for you and don’t be afraid to follow your instincts!