If your little one turns and tosses all night long, it doesn’t mean you have a bad sleeper. It’s just that you need to work with their sleep routine and eliminate those bad sleep habits. So what to do for you to sleep well during the night?
Tip 1. Consider a Routine
The baby’s organism is very clever and it can see when it’s time to go to bed from certain signals in the environment. So around 30 minutes before the child’s bedtime, it’s recommended to dim the lights and turn off everything that makes noise. Lighting is important as it helps with the baby’s internal clock, and the drowsy-making hormone melatonin, the bigger amounts of which are produced during the dark time, helps the baby to relax and fall asleep.
When the stimuli have been minimized, other rituals can be introduced that will be associated with bedtime. Many parents have their own different rituals according to the preferences of their babies. These are singing lullabies, having a warm bath, reading a book, or telling nighty-night stories, to name a few. Experts recommend to introduce rituals as early as possible (ideally around 6-8 weeks) and do everything in the same order day after day to help the baby relax and know what to expect.
Tip 2. Mind the Timing
When putting your baby to sleep, you have to stick to early bedtime because this is as important as setting and following a routine. When it’s time to sleep and the sun goes down, the body of an 8-week-old infant releases melatonin, the sleep hormone. But if you are late with putting your baby to sleep, he/she will become more exhausted and overstimulated, and it’ll be much harder to make him/her fall asleep. The levels of melatonin start rising around the sunset, however, it doesn’t mean that you have to put down your baby at 5 p.m. during the winter. Stick to the schedule and close the shades if the sun is up.
How can I know when to put my baby to sleep? Look at the signs your baby is showing you. When they are tired, you can see that they’ve become less active, stare off, have a bored look, start yawning, leaning, or even falling down. When you’ve noticed these signs, start your everyday bedtime routine.
Tip 3. Soothing Methods Shouldn’t Be Your Lead
When your baby has already fallen asleep, for instance, in your hands, and you’ve put them in a crib, you may think the deed is done. But if they wake up some time later (all humans do), they will not recognize the surroundings because this is not the setting they saw when they were falling asleep. And this is where they need mommy’s help to get back to sleep again.
The secret to a sound baby sleep all night long is to sleep train them. While newborns still need rocking and soothing to get to sleep, by around 5 months, babies can fall asleep on their own. Put your baby down into their crib when they are still awake but ready to sleep. Repeat the soothing methods you use every time you put your baby down to succeed.
Tip 4. Don’t Feed Your Baby to Sleep
It’s okay that newborns fall asleep while eating. But when your baby is growing older and still needs the feeding time to doze off, when awake, they will need to get back to eating to get back to sleep again.
To eliminate this, you will have to feed your baby before the bedtime routine, and when you’re through it, finish the routine by reading a book or singing a calming song. Certainly, you may need to get up and feed your little one during the night, but it will be just about hunger.
Tip 5. Say No to Snacking
You might not have thought about it but sleep and feeding go hand-in-hand. Newborns have to be fed on demand, be it every 2 or 3 hours, or even every hour. For bottle-fed babies, write down at what time and how many ounces they eat. For breastfed babies, keep track of how long they nurse during each session. It is very important information! If the baby eats more and longer during the night, it means they don’t get enough nutrition during the day and just compensate it to sleep through the night. On the other hand, if your baby eats well during the day, they can sleep for 4-6 hours along by around 3 months.
Tip 6. Don’t Skip Naps
Regular sleep is vital to get a baby to sleep. A well-rested baby is a happy baby who has happy parents. If you skip a nap during the day or keep your baby late before getting them to sleep, they won’t sleep longer and better, contrary to a popular belief. When babies are overtired, the levels of their stress hormones rise. And when they finally fall asleep, they won’t sleep for long. To avoid this, mind the timing and keep an eye on your baby who will give you the signs of drowsiness.
Tip 7. Set the Nap Schedule and Make Naps Quality
When you go somewhere by car or walk your baby in a stroller and they fall asleep, it may be very beneficial for you. However, our advice is to try to organize at least one baby’s nap in a crib. Only in this case, they will get the needed rest. The thing is, the first nap babies have during the day is mentally restorative. And the quality of this nap will influence the quality of the whole day and the baby’s mood and behavior. Make sure your baby sleeps in their crib.
The second nap is considered to be physically restorative, and as the baby grows and masters such skills as crawling and walking, which take too much energy, they will need the second nap to be quality as well. By the age of 4 months when your baby has longer awake periods, you can start setting their nap schedule. Don’t forget about the ritual, though.
Tip 8. Let Babies Do the Job on Their Own
When your little one wakes up in the middle of the night, moms tend to rush to them to get them back to sleep as soon as possible even if they co-sleep. When you do that, you are making a cycle that is going to be pretty hard to break. If you are sure the baby isn’t hungry, don’t hurry up to apply the soothing techniques you have, but make a pause, try to see whether the baby can work it out all by themselves, and hush a bit if the baby fuss goes on. A good thing would be to teach the baby to self-soothe during the night.
If you cannot succeed to put your baby to sleep at once, don’t be disappointed. With a consistent schedule and a number of soothing techniques, you will get your baby to sleep all night long and finally get that night rest yourself.
All the recommendations and tips listed here are based on the information provided by a range of highly respected institutions, among which are CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (the American Academy of Pediatrics).