Making your child sleep through the night is similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle for the first time! Just when you seem to think you have solved the complex pieces, a new problem comes your way! Mark my words the birth of a baby often marks the end of your peaceful night’s sleep! Sleeplessness, in fact, is the other name for parenthood.
Parenthood is a great experience, but an energy-sapping one as well. And what makes parenthood most energy-sapping is the lack of sleep. While midnight is a sleeping time for you, it is the party time for your baby! Babies with their small sleep cycle, sleep in small doses all through the day. Each of their sleeping cycle spans for about 3-4 hours at a stretch, and this means trouble for the parents. They have to wake up at intermittent intervals to entertain the baby’s demands. While you cannot change their sleeping behaviour overnight, you cannot sit idle as well. The sleeping behaviour of the child has to be customized with small initiatives every day. Now, you would be wondering – How? So, let us spill the beans and give you solutions to help your baby sleep through the night.
Tip #1: Stay consistent with sleep time
Research proves that children get habituated to the things around them. If you are in the habit of sleeping whenever you feel sleepy, then shun this habit. You should have a fixed sleeping time. Your entire schedule should revolve around hitting the bed at that fixed time. When you are able to attain this, you will find (with time) the baby learns to fall in line!
Tip #2: Set a good sleep routine
As mentioned before, your child will sleep in small doses all through the day. So, it is essential to plan out the sleep routine for him. You need to make sure that a sleeping session does not closely coincide with your bed time. If this means keeping the child up for a little longer, then so be it. Keep him entertained so that the baby stays awake a little longer and accommodates your good night’s sleep.
Tip #3: Do not rush to soothe
In your eagerness to care for the baby, do not interrupt his me-time. Babies need to be given some self-soothing time and that time varies (from 3-10 minutes) based on the child’s behaviour. You will find the child awakes, looks around, thinks and then (hopefully) goes back to sleep again. If you rush to help, the baby might wake up and you know what that means in the middle of the night!
Tip #4: Let him wake up in the same settings
Your baby will self-soothe and fall asleep when everything seems familiar to him. There are many parents who allow the child to fall asleep in another room and then bring him over to the bedroom when he is completely asleep. This is not the right approach. Babies want to see the same settings (which they last witnessed before closing their eyes) when they wake up. If they do not find the similarity they will start a crying session and wake up. The best way to deal with the scenario is to shift the baby when he is still drowsy.
Tip #5: Differentiate between Protest and Pain
So long the baby has had a sleep schedule of his own, now you are intruding into that. So, just like any other person, the baby will protest. It would be really difficult to make him sleep as per your timings. He would start a strong crying session. But, as a parent, you should be able to differentiate between a cry caused by pain and one that is used to protest. If the baby is in pain, then you need to worry. If it is protesting, then you can continue customizing the sleeping patterns of the baby.
Tip #6: Craft a Pre-sleep Ritual
Let the baby know what is coming his way. Bedtime rituals send that signal across to the baby. They help the baby calm down and prepare him ideally for sleep. There are different bedtime rituals to be followed by the parents such as: playing soft music, dimming the lights, giving the baby a relaxing massage or a nightly shower. Start these rituals 15-20 minutes before you go to sleep. Be ready to experiment with the rituals, until you find the perfect one for your baby.
Tip #7: Give him motion
During his days inside the womb, the baby had grown accustomed to the rocking motion. There are many babies who cannot shun this habit anytime soon. You will find such babies falling asleep without any fuss within a car or train which is because such vehicles give him the desired rocking motion. So, if your baby shows reluctance to sleep, try to rock it in your lap or sit on a rocking chair. You will find that the rocking motion allows the baby to fall asleep rather quickly. But make sure you lay the baby on the bed before it goes into the deep sleep.
Tip #8: Teach him Day and Night
When the baby was in the womb, day or night meant nothing for him. He slept when you were awake and vice versa. Mothers can quickly recall how difficult it was to sleep in the third trimester with all those acrobatic leaps around the belly! Now, that the baby is out you can start teaching him when it is night and day. To teach this effectively you need to dim the lights (even when the baby is awake) and talk in hushed voices. Such acts would convey to the baby, that the sleeping time is just around the corner.
Tip #9: Cut the Caffeine Intake
If you are breastfeeding the baby, it is wise to stay clear of caffeine. Caffeine that helps you stay awake longer and be energized, achieves the same effect on the baby who is taking the feed. Moreover, babies take a much longer while to eliminate the effects of caffeine from their system. If you love sleeping, then you might have to sacrifice those warm sips from the coffee mug. Even if you cannot eliminate it altogether, try to avoid it for some hours before the sleep.
Tip #10: Try a Sleep Feed
Babies have small tummies, which allow them to gulp in only small quantities of food. This is why offering a feed to the baby when it is almost asleep is a good idea. By doing so, you make sure that hunger will not affect the baby’s uninterrupted sleep. But the trick lies in feeding the baby without waking him up.
Tip #11: Master the Nappy Change
Most parents change the nappy after the baby is fed and fallen asleep. This can risk in waking up the baby, if he has not gone into the realm of sleep completely. So, a good idea would be to change the nappy while he is feeding. To achieve this, you need to master the art of one hand nappy changes. With the fresh nappy and your masterful skills, the baby does not have to wake up anytime soon.
Tip #12: Co-sleep with your baby
Research proves that babies share their sleep cycle with mother. So, you should sleep beside the baby and not just lie down. When a mother sleeps beside the babies feel more assured and comfortable. So, give them that.
Tip #13: Play an appropriate soundtrack
Play calm music to soothe the senses of the baby. It will help him go to sleep. When inside the womb, the baby is surrounded by bodily noises (such as heartbeat). White noise or other rhythmic music that can replicate the bodily sounds would be a great way to calm down the senses of the baby and take him into the realm of sleep.
Tip #14: Try fun night lighting
You might try decorating your ceiling, which is the most watched area for your baby. Install some fun night lighting that helps the baby stay entertained and fall asleep. Having a sky blue tone on the ceiling along with starry lights is a great idea in this regard.
Tip #15: Keep Monitoring and Learn More
Your baby might not be a chatterbox yet, but he has his own way of communicating. Try and learn his likes and dislikes from the signals. Set sleeping strategies keeping in mind all the findings.
We hope, this list would help you and your baby have a good night’s sleep, every night!