One of the most import lessons you’ll learn as a parent is every baby is different. While your first child always slumbered like sleeping beauty, the next can be a dedicated night owl. If you’ve exhausted all of your ideas (or you’re just plain exhausted), try these 10 things to help your baby sleep.
Set a bedtime
The most crucial part of a set bed time is that you’re taking control of the night-time routine. Firstly, observe your baby’s natural sleep tendencies in their initial few weeks. Then, taking into account when they usually become tired, create a time that works for the both of you. Success lies in sticking to this bedtime every night within the first weeks…even when your baby objects!
Have a routine
Creating an effective night-time routine alerts your baby in advance that sleep is approaching. This routine can consist of the calming bedtime feed, a relaxing bath or a bedtime story. This routine will also assure your child that you’re not going to suddenly disappear. Once they become used to this routine they know what’s gong to happen in advance.
Change your feeds
Daytime feeds: Make your daytime feeds active and stimulating for your baby or toddler. Talk, sing and interact with them throughout the course of their feed, making sure they’re alert and engaged.
Night-time feeds: Your night-time feeds should be an extreme contrast. Instead of lively interaction, make this feed slow and gentle. Only speak in soft tones to your baby and avoid any environment that is too bright, loud or stimulating.
Your baby will slowly be able to differentiate between the two activities and the more relaxing feed will prepare them for sleep and become part of their bedtime routine.
Avoid soothing for too long
None of us like to hear our little ones wail in the middle of the night and it takes a lot of discipline not to run and console them. However, comforting them for too long may be the cause of the disruption. Avoid soothing, rocking or picking up your child for long periods both before they sleep and when the wake in the night. If this over-soothing becomes a routine they will soon expect twenty minutes pick up time whenever they wake. Instead go to their crib and check on them but refrain from picking them up, and allow them to fall back to sleep themselves.
Banish the silence
For a lot of people the first few months of parenthood are spent tip-toeing around their sleeping angel. It’s time to dump the notion that children need complete silence for a good night’s sleep. In fact, many parents are surprised when their child becomes soothed by sounds of vacuums or TV static while falling asleep. Try playing some gentle music or invest in some white noise mp3s. Your child will not only fall asleep peacefully but this methods ensures they won’t be woken harshly every time a door closes or a floorboard creaks downstairs.
Find a security toy
When we’re young, there’s always that favourite toy that somehow seems more special than the rest. Whether its a beloved teddy bear or cosy security blanket, it can help your child feel at ease when falling asleep or waking in the night. A lot of parents find security toys and objects greatly beneficial but be warned, should your child form an attachment to a treasured object guard it like the crown jewels because once it’s lost so is all hope of sleep!
Have timed naps
Naps may seem counter-productive to helping your child sleep at night but this just isn’t so. A well timed nap in the day will mean your child is not over tired and cranky once bedtime comes. Avoiding naps will diminish the quality of sleep your child will receive later that night and the goal is for your child to have a calm and restful snooze. A short midday nap will mean you child has enough energy to keep active until bedtime rolls around will have a more contented slumber.
Shut down the tech
We all have a tendency to drop the baby in front of the selfie machine and watch them hilariously react to their own reflection. However tech such as smartphones, tablets and TV screens stimulate your child’s senses and keep them awake longer, the complete opposite of what you want around bedtime. Try shutting down the tech in the couple hours leading to bedtime, it will help both mother and child to wind down.
A cool environment
Our natural instincts are to make a child’s room as cosy and warm as possible. This stems from a fear of making them uncomfortable in their surroundings, especially when we’re not there to reassurance them. This means an abundance of warmth and glittering night-lights. However most experts recommend a cool, dark environment to ensure your baby has the best possible rest. It’s suggested that you should keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult and avoid overdressing your baby.
Natural remedies can be the solution to ease even the most fussy sleeper. Try adding a couple of drops of lavender oil to you baby’s bedtime bath to calm that restlessness. Alternatively, many new mothers have found success with massaging some essential oils into their baby’s feet and arms or diffusing small amounts in their room before they prepare them for bed.
On a further note: natural remedies have been proven to be just as effective with over-exhausted parents as restless babies.