It may be one of the most peaceful scenes in the world to watch a baby sleeping. With her little eyes closed, fingers all curled up, she sleeps as if there is nothing in the world to worry about. It may be the most satisfying sight of any parent
This heart-melting scene turns into one of panic when the baby wakes up and starts crying with all its might. Many mothers find it difficult to get the baby back to sleep once it wakes up. But there are certain strategies that can be adopted to get you howling toddler to a peaceful sleep.
Importance of Sleep for Babies
Sleep is an integral part of the physical and mental development of the baby. It is necessary to develop immunity and adjust to the environment. In fact, the waking hours are less important compared to the sleeping ones.
During the first 2 months, the baby may sleep from 14 to 17 hours a day. The sleep, unlike in adults who sleep continuously for 8 hours, will be in short spells. Each one may last for 3 to 4 hours. Because they don’t know the difference between day and night, babies can sleep and wake up at any time. It may irritate some parents to find their baby playful at midnight when they feel absolutely drained out.
After reaching infancy, that is 4 to 11 months, she learns to sleep for at least 6 hours in a stretch. The sleep time reduces to 12 to 15 hours a day. But because they have achieved mobility at this time, parents find it hard to pin them down to the bed to make them sleep.
The sleep routines may change several times in the first year, which makes it difficult for parents to set a good time table. But it is necessary to accommodate these changes for the healthy development of the baby.
Tips to Get Your Baby to Sleep
Set a routine
You might be wondering if you will ever sleep again? It’s a common question to ask, especially as a new parent. Of course, it is possible. And you can do it with creating a schedule and a routine for your baby.
Babies have a tendency to sleep erratically. This makes them wide awake when you want them to sleep. So you should be careful to set a good routine which calms them down and soothes her into sleep. There are certain things you have to take care while setting a routine for them.
A set sleep schedule and a sleep routine for a baby can go a long way to helping them sleep on time.
It might be hard as a new parent to not play with your child all the time. To hear their angelic giggle, to see them smile as you take them on a laughter journey with you. However, playing with them may not be the best thing to do if you are trying to get them to sleep.
Take care not to get them excited before going to bed. Don’t let loud noises or bright lights disturb her prior to the bedtime. This can push their ‘go’ button and can make them active again.
Use Light Effectively
Your baby does not know the difference between day and night. But the darkness triggers the release of melatonin in the brain, which makes them sleep.
If possible install a dimmer light in the baby room. It has been proven effective to dim the light at least 2 hours before bedtime. This gives their brain plenty of time to release the melatonin.
Take care not to turn the lights on immediately if they wakes up in the middle of the night. The immediate transition will trigger them awake. So it is better to soothe them back to sleep in the dark itself. You can use blinds to darken the room early in the morning to avoid disturbing their sleep.
No Games Before Bed
Your baby is continuously learning. With the toys they have, the people the meet and the environment around them, they are constantly taking in their surroundings and making sense of it in their minds. If you would want to put them to sleep, you need to stop their active brains and lead them to a restful state.
Avoid active games before bedtime. Plan her games in such a way that active games are reserved for the day and quieter ones towards evening. It will trigger her sleep if you can make each activity calm and peaceful towards the end of the day.
A Bath to Calm Her Down
Babies enjoy bathing. They loving playing in the water. Just like a warm bath helps adults fall asleep, it also helps babies sleep faster. Moving from a warm bath to a cool bedroom can create a drop in the body temperature, telling the brain that it is time to sleep.
It also helps to calm them down before bedtime. A warm bath should become part of their sleep routine. So every evening when you take your baby in for a bath, they will automatically start feeling sleepy.
Set an Early Bedtime
It is better to get the baby to sleep when the sun goes down. The variation in natural lighting should be taken advantage of as it will trigger sleep. It is better to get the baby to sleep by 7 PM. Make sure to stick to this time every day, making it a routine.
You can use a bedtime calculator to calculate the number of hours a baby needs to sleep based on their age. This can give you an idea of creating a schedule that works for you baby and their health.
Put Him to Bed When Drowsy
Most mothers make the mistake of putting the baby to bed after he has slept off in their arms. This can affect his sleep as he grows up because he will find it difficult to go to sleep without someone carrying him around. Experts say that it is better to put the baby down just before he nods off. This teaches him to soothe himself to sleep without his mother to care for him.
This method is also helpful to teach him to go back to sleep after waking up at night without someone around to cuddle him.
Do Not Disturb the Baby's Sleep
Some parents have the habit of disturbing the sleep of their baby by trying to make them more comfortable. Changing the diaper or moving her unnecessarily can affect the sleep quality and make her more irritated. Experts in the field are against this.
They recommend that you leave the diaper on if the baby is sleepy. They are of the opinion that if it is not so soiled much, the baby will not be in discomfort and so it is better to relax the diaper change routine a bit to facilitate sleep.
A method developed by experts prompts the mother to let the baby cry-it-out. The method known as “Progressive Watching” aims at teaching the baby to sleep on her own and to go back to sleep if she wakes up. Dr. Richard Ferber, the person who developed this method says that it can be effectively applied to babies at least 5 months old. The method is explained below.
- Put your baby to bed before she is completely asleep but drowsy and leave the room.
- Try to soothe her to sleep after waiting for a minute or so if she starts crying, but do not pick her up. Leave the room in 2-3 minutes. The baby registers your presence and will be able to calm herself down.
- If she continues crying, gradually increase your response time. That is, wait for 2 minutes before soothing her the first time, 5 minutes the second time and 10 minutes the third time.
- On the next night increase the waiting time more until your baby learns to go to sleep on her own.
Within a week, you will see improvements in her sleep pattern if you adopt this method.