Parents with a newborn, find night sleep to be a great challenge. But since a sleeping habit is learned, you should set up a more predictable bedtime routine for your toddler. Put you baby to sleep on her back and also attempt to get her nap at similar times each day.
A newborn requires changing and feeding at regular intervals throughout 24 hours in a day and coping with broken sleeps each day is a challenge for most parents. However, you should note that these sleepless nights never last for long. Eventually, your baby will adopt a sleeping habit if they get used to a familiar routine.
Challenges associated to the baby’s sleeping and settling are very common. About one third of all babies experience disrupted sleep patterns although it is only a problem if your family can not cope with the disruptions.
There are families that do not see disrupted sleep patterns as a big problem. According to National Sleep Foundation, around 69% of the kids below the age of 10 have sleep problems. But how do the 31% manage to avoid this problem?
Even though a newborn will only sleep for 16-17 hours in a day, they do this in many short periods throughout the day. The following tips will help you make your baby sleep for longer periods.
Baby sleeping in crib. Image source cribreviewsite.com
• Put your little one to bed once she is drowsy but not when she is fast asleep
This may be hard especially for the breastfeeding mothers, although by simply mastering the timing, you will make your baby sleep for longer periods. A baby who drifts off on her own is more likely to fall asleep faster and will also learn how to soothe herself for sleep easily.
Beginning when your baby is 6-8 weeks old, make a sleepiness scale – it should range between 1 and 10. Take one to be full throttle and 10 to be out cold. Wait until the baby hits around 7 or 8 and then lay her to bed. Less leg and arm movements alongside diminished sucking power are good indications that your baby is nearing dreamland.
• Don’t look your baby directly in the eye
You can easily stimulate your baby by looking her in the eye. A loving look can easily move your baby from tired to wired. Seeing your baby brighten at noon can be heartwarming but it can also be discouraging at midnight.
A parent who makes eye contact with a sleepy baby inadvertently does encourage them to snap out of the sleep zone. If the interaction between you and your baby during the night time is high, the baby will get motivated to stay awake.
Therefore, you should minimize the interaction between you and your child. If it’s a must you get to your baby’s sleeping space during the night, you should avoid holding her gaze. Instead, serenade her with your favorite song. Keep your gaze around her belly and soothe her back to sleep with a gentle touch and a soft voice.
• Keep your room darker
Darkness influences the baby’s brain to release melatonin which is a sleep hormone. On the other hand, lights push the baby’s biological �go’ button. If you happen to notice that your baby sleeps more during the day time than at night, you should make her understand the difference. Allow plenty of sunlight during the day into the room or even take her outside. Always put the baby down in well lighted rooms for the day time naps unless she is having a problem with naps.
To induce more sleep during the night, install dimmers in the baby’s room and in any other room you spend much time with the baby. Dim the lights up to two hours before the bedtime. This way you will set up the sleep mood.
A nightlight in the baby’s room is okay. However, you should choose a small dim light with a bluish tone. If the baby wakes up during the night, don’t switch on the lights or even carry her into a room brightly lit.
The shift from dark to light will inform her brain that it’s the right time to wake up. Instead, you should soothe her to sleep while still in the bedroom. If the morning lights motivate the baby to wake up very early in the morning or if she is having problems napping at the afternoon, darken the room by installing shades.
• Don’t over-rely on the baby monitor
If you are a mom who jumps at each squeak transmitted over your baby monitor, you will teach the baby to wake up more often. Instead, you should time your entrance. Go to your child when you know for sure she is awake. Waiting for some time will offer the child a chance to soothe herself back to sleep. Stepping in too fast means that you will catch the child before she is worked enough to fall back asleep.
Turning down the baby monitor sensitivity is okay. Set the volume in a way that you will hear her when she is distressed but don’t respond to every gurgle. Eventually, you may turn it off.
• Ditch the diaper change rules
Resist urge to change the baby each time she wakes up. Instead, dress the baby in a quality nighttime diaper at night. When she has woken up, sniff to find out whether she has soiled the diaper and change her if you must. A cold night wipe can wake your baby faster and therefore you should use warm washcloths.
• Avoid cuddling the baby
A crying child mostly gets extra cuddles. If this becomes a habit, there are times when the baby will cry in the middle of the night to get your attention. Child care experts recommend a responsive settling approach. When the child starts crying, take a little time before entering her room to make her self settle. Then reassure and soothe her, but avoid picking her up or even cuddling.
Then leave the room quickly. If the baby doesn’t stop crying, wait for some time before returning into the room. Be guided by her behavior. If she remains distressed, soothe and reassure her. If the baby wakes up again repeat the process. After every night, make the child wait for a longer time. She will eventually realize that she isn’t getting any rewards for crying at night.