Being a parent is not something we’ve been trained for, although we probably should be! One of the biggest challenges for new parents is how to get baby to sleep through the night.
Unfortunately baby probably doesn’t realize that night time is for sleeping and that his parents don’t really want to be up in the wee hours of the morning trying to soothe him. All he knows is that he’s wet, hungry, bored and uncomfortable and he wants something done about it… NOW!
So what can a mere parent do to stay sane?
Understanding baby’s sleep cycle is the first weapon in your arsenal. Realize that it’s quite normal for babies to wake frequently during the night as their sleep cycles are shorter than ours. We’re not usually aware of this as they often just close their eyes and go back to sleep again.
So expecting baby to sleep solidly for eight hours is probably being unrealistic, however not all babies will wake their parents every few hours or so. How can you make sure you have one of these little gems? Read on…
Give him a chance to go back to sleep on his own, this is very important. Babies will often do this if left for a few minutes. Falling back to sleep by themselves establishes good sleeping habits. Of course if he becomes really distressed you need to attend to him.
Establish a baby sleep schedule. In other words make sure he goes to bed at the same time every night. Babies & young children (and even adults) find routines soothing, it makes them feel secure. Whether it’s a cuddle, a bath, or a bedtime story, try to do the same things in the same order every night.
Don’t stimulate your baby in the evenings or close to bedtime. He will find it harder to go to sleep and may wake up more often. Make the hours before bed calming and relaxing.
Don’t keep him up too late – It’s a known fact that sleep deprived babies wake more often. Let him have naps during the day when he seems tired and this will help him sleep better at night.
Make sure he’s not sick. Babies can fall ill quite quickly. If he has a cold, a stuffy nose could be making him restless.
Is he too hot or too cold? Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature and that he’s not overdressed. A baby’s room should also be quiet and dark for him to sleep properly. If he’s afraid of the dark, a small night light plugged into a power outlet will solve the problem.
Night terrors and nightmares – They sound similar but are actually quite different. Babies will wake up frightened after a nightmare. They may act frightened when they are experiencing night terrors but are not awake. In any case they need to be comforted.
Is he thirsty? Sometimes just a drink of water will settle him. Don’t offer milk if it’s not his normal feed time.
Separation anxiety – Sometimes babies can wake up and wonder where you are. In this case just calling out to him may suffice.
Music soothes the savage beast, yes, even babies! If you have a CD of soothing music, this can work really well. Even better when it’s coming from a favorite toy —
Do try these suggestions and see what works best for you and your baby. Have a nap yourself during the day if you can find the time. And don’t worry if you get a bit grumpy sometimes, you’re not supposed to be perfect. Just remember these sleep deprived times won’t last for ever. If you have a happy and healthy baby, you’re doing OK!