When a new baby arrives the first thing everyone is quick to point out is how you’ll be kissing your good night’s sleep goodbye. This really doesn’t have to be the case, at least after the first six weeks of a baby’s life. At that point of your newborn’s little life, you can start to help your baby learn to sleep all night. These strategies have been put to the test and have helped many moms and dads claim back their restful nights.
1. Bedtime Feeding Ritual
During the day, when the baby is feeding, make these times lively and fun. Have the television on or the radio; don’t be afraid to sing or talk to your baby while she feeds. In contrast, when it is time for her bedtime feeding, find a quiet space with low lighting and avoid too much talking. If you do speak to your baby while she’s feeding, use soft, whisper tones. This differentiation between feedings will help your little one realize it is time to settle down and relax.
2. Put Baby Down Awake
When it is time for bed, it is important to put your baby in bed while she is still awake. It is okay if she’s drowsy and relaxed, but avoid putting her in her bed once she has already fallen asleep. By putting her down awake, you are teaching her that it is bedtime and this is where she goes to drift off. She will eventually get use to the environment and feel comfortable enough to fall asleep without your help.
3. Try to Keep a Schedule
If you are most likely to put your baby down at 7 p.m. then aim to do so every night, right from about 3 months old. This helps the baby’s natural sleep cycle set itself and she will appreciate the routine. Having your baby go to bed later does not mean your little one will sleep in or sleep longer. In fact, this is often counter-productive. Lack of sleep can create a cranky, unsettled baby who then won’t sleep properly. Having a schedule makes for a happy, rested baby.
4. Get a White Noise Machine
Some babies do better if there is background noise. This doesn’t mean blaring the latest pop hits when it’s bedtime. Invest in a white noise machine which is designed specifically for soothing and relaxation. Some of the sounds include waterfalls, birds, ocean waves and other repetitive, yet peaceful sounds.
5. Cry it Out
This strategy is very controversial amongst parents and professionals alike. If your baby is older, say around five or six months, this method could be effective—that is if you are prepared to endure it. This isn’t for everyone since things will likely get worse before they get better for a few nights at least. You would simply put your little one to bed, kiss goodnight and leave the room. She may cry but you wouldn’t go over and break the rule. The objective in the strategy is to let her cry herself to sleep in an effort to learn self-soothing.
6. Gently Easing Towards Self-Soothing
If crying it out is not your cup of tea, you could employ a gentler strategy where you would let your baby cry only for an allotted amount of time, for example five minutes, before you go in and provide reassurance. This could mean you simply go in, reposition her, give the soother, and leave with a whispered good night.
7. Wean from Nighttime Feedings
Once your baby is four to six months old, it is appropriate to start cutting out feedings throughout the night. First make sure you are feeding enough during the day and then, if you must go to your baby in the night, do so but without a feeding. Just soothe, swaddle or cover up and put her back to bed. This will prevent your baby becoming reliant on having to feed in the night and help her learn to sleep all night.