Sleep doesn’t come naturally to babies. Their little bodies and minds are still adjusting to the world; working out the kinks and struggling to process everything. You’ll want your baby to sleep for long stretches so you can get some rest yourself, but this can be challenging. Here are some methods that might help your baby sleep through the night.
1. Wrap her in a swaddle.
During the first four months, you shouldn’t worry about sleep training. A newborn is going to sleep and eat on her own schedule. You can cause the least disruption in everyone’s life by letting her sleep when she prefers. This gives her time to learn how to sleep in our world before you require a schedule. Before four months, however, you can use the swaddle to help her rest.
In the womb, your baby could always feel her edges. Her skin was constantly stimulated and she always knew the entirety of her world. Everything was small and safe.
Out with the rest of us, however, the world is open and scary. Your baby struggles to cope with the onslaught of new sensations and feelings. By wrapping her in a swaddle, you return her to that comforting place where she has spent most of her life.
A swaddle also keeps her body still so her natural startle reflex doesn’t wake her up throughout the night, and keeps her on her back to prevent SIDS. Once baby begins to roll, usually around 4 months, this is the time to stop swaddling baby and move on to the next tips.
2. Create a bedtime routine.
You’ll want to create a soothing nightly routine for you and your child to enact each evening. Once you establish your routine, try not to sway from it. As you condition your baby to recognize the routine, she’ll begin to feel drowsy as soon as you start.
Pick a few activities you can perform every night no matter where you are. For example, start with a warm, relaxing bath, then a calm story (try not to read with too much animation or movement), and then off to bed. Make sure baby’s tummy is full and the lights are dim so she’s inclined to sleep.
3. Put on some white noise.
It’s a myth that babies need silence to sleep. When your baby was inside her mom’s womb, she was constantly exposed to sounds, from without and within. There was actually very little silence.
Babies are comforted by a bit of noise. A white noise machine is worth the cost; it creates a gentle sound that takes your baby back to her days in the womb. A great white noise machine to look into purchasing is the Marpac Dohm. Make sure the white noise machine is not too close to baby’s ears however to ensure hearing safety. If you don’t have a white noise machine, a simple solution is to use a fan to create just enough noise, but be sure to point it away from baby’s sleeping space. Bonus: the fan helps to regulate baby’s temperature to prevent overheating (risk factor of SIDS).
4. Lay baby down drowsy, but not asleep.
One of the toughest lessons a baby has to learn is called “self-soothing.” Self-soothing is when your baby can comfortably put herself back to sleep without your presence. This is an extremely important skill that will help her sleep throughout the night, wake up less often, and bother mom and dad less.
You can help teach self-soothing by laying your baby down when she’s drowsy, but not asleep. This teaches her how to transition into sleep by herself in the crib, without a parent’s arms. If your baby constantly falls asleep in your lap or beside you, she’ll become dependent on that arrangement.
Bonus tip: swaddle baby using the hands over heart position; this way baby is in a natural womb position and can settle down using their own fingers and hands.
5. Wait before coming to the rescue.
Just because you’re hearing noises through the baby monitor doesn’t mean you have to rush to the crib. Your little one may wake during the night and begin making her normal, everyday gurgles and spurts. Learn to recognize the different sounds she makes. If she isn’t upset or in need of something (a change, a feeding, etc.), don’t feel pressured to run into the room. Give her some time to put herself back to sleep.
Guest Blog by Joanna von Yurt, Co-Founder and CEO of Swanling Innovations Inc.
Joanna von Yurt is the mother of three intelligent, sensitive, and compassionate girls (who all want to be mommies when they grow up). She is first AND foremost a mom! Professionally, however, she is an accountant, controller and serial entrepreneur.
Joanna has a degree in Psychology from Harvard University with an emphasis in child psychology. She worked as an infant caregiver for 12 years and interned as a Child Life Specialist, family/social therapist, and assisted in clinical studies involving children’s personality and social psychology.
Joanna has a lifelong passion for childcare and child safety. She enjoys sharing her experiences with other parents about sleep routines, attachment parenting, safe sleep guidelines, and children’s natural sleep patterns. Her company, Swanling Innovations, is committed to producing modern, safe and innovative products that meet the expectations of discerning parents. The Slumber Sleeper™ is a 4-in 1 safe sleep solution (mattress protector, flat sheet, fitted sheet and sleep sack all in one) designed to help keep your baby safe, warm and centered.
Joanna always says that a well-rested child and well-rested parents add up to a happy family!
Visit www.swanling.com for more information.
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