Stick To An Early Bedtime
When considering how to put a baby to sleep, timing is just as important as a routine. “At around 8 weeks, babies have a rise in melatonin, a drowsy-making hormone the body releases when it’s time for sleep, which means they’re ready for an early bedtime consistent with the sun setting,” says Turgeon. “If you keep them up late instead, they become overstimulated and harder to put down.” Melatonin levels rise somewhere around sundown, but given that sundown can be anytime from 4:30 in winter to 8:30 in summer, stick to the clock and put your baby down around 6:30 or 7 p.m. for the most success. If the sun is still up, close the shades.
“A good sign of drowsiness is when the baby becomes calmthey’re less active, have a bored look, or just stare off,” says Turgeon. Don’t mistake this behavior as happiness for being awake. Seize the moment and start your bedtime routine. “The baby’s internal clock is telling them when to be awake and when to be asleep, and you want to reinforce that,” she notes.
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Is It Dangerous To Hold A Baby While They Fall Asleep
It shouldnt be dangerous to hold your sleeping baby for a nap, so long as you are wide awake.
However, its extremely dangerous if you fall asleep while holding them. Likewise, its dangerous to sleep with your baby in the same bed. Sleeping in the same bed risks suffocation and can increase the risk of SIDS by up to 50 times.
Dont Look Your Baby Directly In The Eyes
Babies get stimulated quite easily. Once she meets your gaze, she gets engaged by believing that it is playtime. When your baby is sleepy and you make eye contact with her, you will notice that she immediately snaps out of her sleepy state. If you are interacting more with your baby then you are only keeping her awake for longer. So keep your engagements very minimal for her to sleep faster. No eye contact or talking excitedly.
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What To Do When Baby Wakes
When your baby awakens, develop a nighttime parenting approach. An Approach that respects your babys need for nighttime trust and comfort, in addition to the need for baby and parents to quickly get back to sleep. While some babies are self-soothers, being able to resettle easily and quickly without outside help, others need a helping hand . Try these back-to-sleep comforters:
Laying on of hands
Determine what your babys nighttime temperament is. Is your baby a born self-soother who awakens, whimpers, squirms, and then resettles by herself? Or is your baby, if not promptly attended to, one whose cries escalate and becomes angry and difficult to resettle? If you can get to your baby quickly before she completely awakens, you may be able to resettle her back to sleep with a firm laying on of hands. To add the finishing touch, pat your babys back or bottom rhythmically to match your heartbeat. Remove your hands gradually first one and then the other easing the pressure slowly so as not to startle baby awake. Sometimes fathers, perhaps because they have larger hands, are more successful in this hands-on ritual.
Honor your partner with his share of nighttime parenting
Its important for babies to get used to fathers way of comforting and being put to sleep in fathers arms, otherwise, mothers burn out. A fathers participation in nighttime parenting is especially important for the breastfeeding infant who assumes the luxury that moms diner is open all night.
Night And Day Confusion
If youre dealing with newborn baby sleep problems, one of the leading causes of a newborn who doesnt sleep well at night is night and day confusion.
Meaning, they sleep all day and party all night.
Day/night confusion in babies is surprisingly common, and its something we had to deal with when our son was born, too.
Here are a few ways to straighten out night/day confusion and help your baby learn that nighttime is for sleeping and daytime is for playing :
Bedtime routines help your baby know whats coming next. When you get consistent with their bedtime routine, theyll start to wind down and prepare themselves for sleep as soon as you start the bedtime routine.
Routines create consistency for your baby, and babies love consistency.
- Get them dressed in the morning
I know how tempting it is to just let your baby lounge around in their sleeper all day .
But if youre struggling with a baby who has night/day confusion, if you get them dressed in the morning theyll quickly learn that PJs are associated with sleep and that getting dressed signals the start of a new day.
During the day, talk to your baby, sing to them, and play with them. This will help them know that daytime is playtime.
- Keep nighttime feedings boring
Unlike during the day, when baby wakes at night, keep the lights dim and try not to talk to them. Pick them up, feed them, change them, and put them back down to bed with minimal interaction.
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What About A Ride In The Car
Some parents claim that a ride in the car is a sure-fire way to induce sleep. In desperate times it may be tempting to buckle baby in the car seat and drive around the block. Just dont do it for long, says Dr. Ahmann.
Sleeping in the car, while sometimes unavoidable, is not a good habit. Your baby is safest sleeping on a firm, flat surface, not propped up in a seat.
Every year hundreds of U.S. infants die due to unsafe sleep environments. Make sure your baby sleeps safely all the time. Its non-negotiable, says Dr. Ahmann.
For babies, safe sleep means lying flat on the back with no blankets heavier than a hospital receiving blanket. There should be no stuffed animals in the crib. Do not use crib bumpers, pillows or any type of cushions for propping up your baby not even items marketed to help babies sleep better.
Nighttime Decisions When Getting Baby To Sleep
Develop a realistic attitude about nighttime parenting
Sleeping, like eating, is not a state you can force a baby into. The best you can do is to create a secure environment that allows sleep to overtake your baby. A realistic long- term goal is to help your baby develop a healthy attitude about sleep. Baby should feel that sleep is a pleasant state to enter and a secure state to remain in. Many sleep problems in older children and adults stem from children growing up with an unhealthy attitude about sleep. Such as sleep was not a pleasant state to enter and was a fearful state to remain in. Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep when they are young. By doing this, both you and your children will sleep better when they are older.
Beware of sleep trainers
- Does this advice sound sensible, will it fit your babys temperament and does it feel right to you?
Sleep training may result in long-term loss
Using the rigid, insensitive let-him-cry-it-out method has several problems. First, it will undermine the trust your baby has for nighttime comfort. Second, it will prevent you from working at a style of nighttime parenting until you find the one that works best for you and your family, and third, it may keep you and your doctor from uncovering hidden medical causes of night waking. Night feedings are normal frequent, painful night waking is not.
Stay flexible when putting baby to sleep
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Baby Sleep Was Always A Fight For Us
For weeks upon weeks, we struggled with getting our baby to sleep. Baby sleep seemed impossible to us. I spent my 3am hours researching how to get my baby to sleep while he screamed in my arms. I tried everything I found but couldnt find anything that worked for our son.
We spent hours in the rocking chair,I spent many sleepless nights walking and jogging around our house in an attempt to get him to settle down and stop crying, we got this night light, I bounced him around the kitchen and laundry room listening to the sound of the dishwasher and dryer in an attempt to settle him. But nothing worked.
Later, my husband and I found out that our son struggled with colic, which made us realize that it wasnt the fact that we were doing something wrong that was causing him to cry all day and night which helped us be able to start looking into new ways to soothe and comfort him.
One day while searching everywhere possible for some kind of solution, I finally found something that worked to settle our son enough for him to fall asleep.
And not just fall asleep.
But fall asleep ON HIS OWN. In his own cradle.
What I started doing didnt solve all of our new-parent problems.
Our son was still colicky, but we were finally able to get him to fall asleep easier and faster, which resulted in him getting longer naps, allowing me to get some more rest, and making the countless nighttime feedings and all the crying a lot more bearable.
What Is Crying It Out
There are different ways to think about helping babies learn to fall asleep on their own.
Graduated crying-it-out is when parents put their baby down after a bedtime routine and let the baby cry until they fall asleep. Parents check on the baby, waiting longer and longer periods of time before going in the room, starting at 2 minutes and gradually moving up to 30 minutes. This routine is repeated until the baby falls asleep independently.
Bedtime fading: Parents shift a babys bedtime later by 1015 minutes each night so the baby is tired at bedtime. When the baby reaches a point where he falls asleep soon after being put down, that becomes bedtime.
What does the research say?
Both graduated crying-it-out and bedtime fading helped babies fall asleep faster, compared to babies whose parents who received information about infant sleep .
Mothers who used graduated crying-it-out or bedtime fading showed less stress than moms who just received sleep information, but not strategies.
Families using graduated crying-it-out also found that their babies were less likely to wake during the night.
The choice of a bedtime strategy does not impact a babys relationship with parents. Parents dont damage their relationship with their babies by using graduated crying-it-out.
Whats the takeaway?
Some babies have a harder time than others learning to fall asleep on their own. Sleep challenges are probably one of the hardest parts of early parenting.
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Importance Of Sleep For Infants
Sleep plays an essential role in anyones mental and physical health, but this sentiment is particularly true for babies as it is crucial for both their cognitive and physical development. Sleep deprivation in these crucial early stages of life can lead to problems down the road like hyperactivity, negative or aggressive behavior, mood swings, and or anxiety.
There are two stages of sleep REM and non-REM. Babies spend half their time in each stage, but at about six months, they spend about 30% of the time in REM. For infants, REM sleep helps prepare their brains for retaining new information, which is critical for effective learning. During non-REM sleep, on the other hand, their body builds muscle tissue and releases a hormone pertinent to their growth and development.
Here is a helpful table to help you determine whether or not your baby is getting enough sleep.
Newborns: 16 hours 1 month: 15.5 hours 3 months: 15 hours 6 months: 14 hours 9 months: 14 hours 1 year: 14 hours 1.5 years: 13.5 hours 2 years: 13 hours
Bio: Gwen Thompson is a Certified Sleep Science Coach that writes for The Slumber Yard. Besides helping people improve the quality of their sleep, she also likes playing the piano, making homemade jewelry, and taking her dog for walks.
Stop Overthinking The Situation
Resist the urge to research “how to put a baby to sleep” every single night. “Information overload causes parents to try a million different things, which doesn’t build any consistency or trust,” says Prueher. “Children thrive on knowing what to expect.” She recommends giving your baby a little space to show their capabilities.
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They Dont Want To Miss The Party
If theres a lot going on, music, noise, siblings playing loudly, oftentimes babies will fight sleep simply because they dont want to miss out on the party.
They want to be a part of the action.
One of the best ways to get baby to sleep longer and better is to use awhite noise machinein their room to block noises coming from outside their room.
This way the giggling from their siblings, the TV, or the radio wont keep them from falling asleep.
You Can Help Your Newborn Sleep Better And We Can Help
There are many gentle, newborn-friendly ways that you can help your baby sleep longer stretches, and sleep more regularly and our expert sleep consultants are well-versed in all of them! Reach out to one of our consultants today, and she will craft a newborn-specific Personalized Sleep Plan with recommendations that are designed specifically for your unique baby.
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Newborns really can sleep long stretches during the day and at night you simply have to use appropriate, gentle techniques to get there! Our newborn e-book, Essential Keys to Your Newborns Sleep, outlines a number of gentle, baby-centered ways you can encourage better sleep from your newborn. Learn how to create sleep-inducing routines and schedules, how to bond and communicate with your newborn, ad more!
Persistent nighttime struggles demand a more intensive approach. Check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
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