So, the nine months wait is over and there is a baby in your arms! But with the sweet smell and gurgles, also come sleepless nights! Don’t be surprised if your baby doesn’t sleep at night and cries for the whole night, this is part of the deal too! We know that most young parents wonder about how to get their baby to sleep for eight hours or at least for an uninterrupted 6 hours!
There are many reasons why a baby cries at night, like hunger, a wet diaper, colic, teething problems or the fact that the baby just doesn’t know how to sleep through the night!
We are sure you have grand plans to teach your child beautiful nursery rhymes and the ABCs, however, you need to start with teaching your child how to fall asleep on his/her own and sleep through the night.
Here are some tips to help in sleep training your baby so that both you and your baby can have a good night’s sleep:
Sorting out day and night: Many babies, like to sleep during the day and have wakeful, active hours during the night. The baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day as it was always night time in the womb and probably that is when your baby was most active! We need to establish the difference between night and day. Talk and play with your child more during the daytime and at night bring down the fanfare. Let the child understand that daytime is fun time whereas night time is low key and boring. By two to four months most babies, start to understand the difference between day and night. This is the most important step towards sleep training.
Making a bedtime routine: When things are done in the same manner every day, the child gets a comforting sense of control. A bedtime routine can be like this: Bath > Feed > Story/Lullaby > Prayer > Lights out
It is upto you to create a routine for your baby, which can have prayers, songs, hugs, kisses etc. What’s essential is that the same thing should happen everyday. Tone down your voice and don’t use gadgets like television, tablets to put the baby to sleep. Also, avoid rough house play like juggling the baby or tickling just before bedtime as we don’t want the baby to get excited just when it is time to sleep.
Famous pediatrician Dr. Spock said “Keep bedtime agreeable and happy. Remember that it is delicious and inviting to the tired child, if you don’t turn it into an unpleasant duty. Have an air of cheerful certainty about it”
Bedtime Rituals: There is a difference between a bedtime routine and a bedtime ritual. Some of us may need a particular pillow to sleep, as that has become our habit. Babies are but miniature human beings and they behave in a similar manner. If they get used to being rocked or cuddled to sleep by mummy or daddy, they will demand that everyday and that may become the only way to nod them off to sleep. Therefore, if they wake up at night, they will need the same ritual to fall asleep again.
On the other hand if the baby falls asleep in her bed/crib while lying down, she can do the same thing in the middle of the night.
We know that you love your baby a lot, but for her and your own good, try to make the baby fall asleep on her own when she is 3 – 4 months old. Place her in her bed after the bedtime routine and let her fall asleep on her own. The child may wake up during the night, refrain from picking up the baby if she cries a little. The child is probably between sleep cycles and will go back to sleep on her own.
There are many other questions around sleep and sleep training that a parent has in mind. Here are some questions with brief answers around making your child sleep for the whole night:
How much sleep does my baby need? This varies from child to child. Trust your baby in deciding and meeting her sleep requirement. You just have to ensure that the child is fed, dry and in a comfortable place to sleep. She will get the required sleep during the day.
Benefits of co -sleeping with the baby? There is no concrete study to show us the advantages or disadvantages of co sleeping and independent sleeping. This is a parent led decision. Do what you are comfortable with
Some other tips that may help your child sleep better during the night are these, especially for toddlers:
Shorter naps during the day: Make efforts to keep the child awake during the day by engaging them in play, talk etc. Long daytime naps makes them active in the evening.
Tire them in the day: Plan their day such, that there are more physical activities like playing in the park, swimming etc during the day. A tired baby will look forward to sleeping in the evening. That’s when they will be able to pull longer hours sleeping at night to wake up fresh and energetic the next day.
Nighty night! Sleep well, sleep tight, sleep through the whole night dear mommy, daddy and child.
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