Tips to Get Baby to Sleep
By Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Cindi Pearce
Any current or past parent will tell you that the most difficult aspect of dealing with an infant is getting the child to go to sleep and stay there.
Forget the concept of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. It isn’t going to happen any more or at least not for a long time.
Oh, the pain and agony of those 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. feedings. Parents turn into zombies within a few weeks and would almost sell a body part in exchange for some shut eye. Every parent has been through it. Babies don’t sleep that well or that long at first. Of course, there are the exceptions and you are very lucky if your child is one of them.
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Here are the top ten tips to get baby to sleep …
10. Be realistic
If you have a newborn infant know going in that you are not going to sleep a lot because newborns need fed a lot. If you breastfeed, which is highly recommended, your child is going to need feeding even more often than a bottle-fed baby because the infant easily digests the breast milk (which is good and prevents colic) and in a few hours is ready to chow down again. Figure out the easiest and most comfortable way to go about night feedings. Ask your pediatrician for input and ask other mothers who will surely have some tips. Everyone who has experienced parenthood knows that the new parents are going to be exhausted at first because taking care of the baby is a 24/7 job. Even the ‘best’ baby is probably not going to sleep for eight hours at first.
9. Old school theories
The old school used to recommend that you let the baby ‘cry it out.’ When an infant is crying this means he needs something, most likely fed or changed. Parents need to provide their offspring with “nighttime” comfort and, yes, this is at the expense of the parents’ sleep but you will survive. When a baby is comforted and secure he will learn to sleep longer. Just be patient.
If you find that you baby sleeps best in a crib next to your bed or in a co-sleeper that is attached to your bed, go this route. If you discover that the child sleeps better in a separate room, do this, but use a monitor so you can hear him if he awakes. Some parents opt for co-sleeping and put the infant in bed with them. There are pros and cons to this approach. The danger is rolling over onto the baby and suffocating him. Never put a baby in bed with you if you or your partner has been drinking alcohol, which impairs judgment.
Turn on the stereo and play a favorite music cd or Mp3 playlist. Does the child seem to like that? Does the music lull her to sleep? Try playing different types of music and see which one the infant responds to the best. She may snooze up a storm to Beethoven or prefer U2.
6. Teddy bear snuggle
Consider using what is called the “teddy bear snuggle.” Some babies simply cannot fall asleep unless they are next to their mother or father. Feed and then rock your infant. When she falls asleep, lie down next to her and snuggle with her. When she is sound asleep, put her in her own bed.
5. Room temperature
Is the infant’s bedroom too hot or too cold? The ideal room should have relative humidity of approximately 50 percent and the temperature should be approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t put your baby down on a cold sheet. Use 100% cotton or flannel crib sheets or put a warm towel on the sheets to heat up the sheets. Remove the towel before putting the baby into her crib. If the room is too hot, your baby may develop a stuffy nose, which is going to wake him up. Use a warm-mist vaporizer, which keeps the humidity at an ideal level. The sound of a humidifier may help lull the infant to sleep.
Another technique is the self-soothing method where the infant is awake when she is put to bed. The parent occasionally comes in and soothes the baby. Eventually the infant falls to sleep on its own. This teaches the infant to go to sleep without continuous comforting from his parents or the use of props. Sometimes it is difficult for the little one to get used to this but once he has the hang of it it’s easier on the adults that the parent-soothing approach. The cons of this method are that there may be a loss of trust between infant and parents and there is going to be several nights of letting the baby cry it out. Additionally, the parents may become less attuned to their baby’s cries as a result and not recognize when their child is really in distress.
3. Daytime nap routine
If at all possible, try to keep a schedule when it comes to nap taking. If mom is really tired around 3 p.m., lie down with the infant and do this every day for a week or so until the baby gets accustomed to taking a nap at this specific time. This provides mom with some much needed sleep and helps the child start to adapt to a routine. When babies have unswerving nap routines during the day they are apt to sleep for longer periods of time at night.
2. Parent-soothing method
There is the parent-soothing method of putting a baby to sleep, which can include rocking the infant, nursing the infant until she nods off, singing to her, and the parent-trade-off system where one night daddy does it and the next night mommy puts baby to sleep. The advantages of this approach are that the adult helps the infant ease into the sleep transition, which provides the child with a good attitude toward sleep, because it’s an enjoyable state to enter into. This type of soothing results in parent/infant trust and the child will always have good memories of being “parented” to sleep; however, the cons involved with this approach is that the infant depends on the parent or a ‘prop’ to get to sleep. If he wakes during the night he won’t be able to get back to sleep on his own without a ‘prop.’
1. What works best for you and baby
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Do what works for you and your baby. People have different lifestyles. Use the approach that works best for your lifestyle and your child. If your infant doesn’t like to go to sleep until midnight and you can accommodate that (because you don’t have to get up at 6 a.m. and hop on a commuter train to work) then go with it. There is no wrong way. Yes, your mother and sister may have done it an entirely different way but that doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. It’s your baby, your life and your rules.
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