Having trouble getting your baby to sleep at night? You’re not alone. Infancy is a difficult time for babies and their sleep patterns, so it’s normal to have some problems with it at first.
5. Make Sure Your Baby is Safe
First, try to figure out if anything is seriously wrong. Although all babies cry at night sometimes, make sure that it isn’t for a dangerous reason or for a reason that could make your baby uncomfortable during the night. If there is something that can be fixed and made better, your baby will sleep much more easily at night. For example, check to make sure that all the bedclothes are not only comfortable but also safe for sleeping in. There shouldn’t be any snaps digging into his or her skin, and it shouldn’t cause your baby to become either overheated or chilled. Also, make sure to keep a baby movement monitor under your baby’s mattress so you can be alerted right away if your baby stops breathing.
Sometimes babies will cry at night because they’ve become sick, most commonly with some kind of stuffy nose or cold. In this case, provide him or her with lots of comfort and a gentle medicine or pain relief if necessary. If your child is sick, this could be one of the times that you deviate from a normal sleep plan, but that’s okay. Be flexible with your rules if something is truly wrong so that you child can get back to normal more quickly and get some restful sleep.
4. Security Items Can Help Your Baby Feel Comfortable
Security items can help your baby become more comfortable without you during the night. Sometimes babies will wake themselves up and need just a little bit of comfort to get back to sleep. Waking up in a dark, slightly unfamiliar place can be scary for anyone. Provide your baby with one consistent item that can stay in the crib while he or she sleeps. A small tag blanket or stuffed animal can help make things a little more familiar and secure-feeling at nighttime. Keep these items with you at first for at least a few hours in order to transfer your “mom smell” onto the item for even more security. For a truly fussy baby who always wants mom to be there, try dabbing a little bit of breast milk onto a small, soft cloth that you baby can sleep with at night. Babies love to use their sense of smell to identify people, especially in the first few months of their lives, so make sure that your personal smell is on something in your baby’s crib in order to make it smell like home.
3. Sometimes Babies Need to Cry
Let your baby cry for at least a little while, especially if it seems like your child doesn’t have a specific reason for waking up or being uncomfortable in the crib. Although it might be your immediate response to go comfort your baby yourself, sometimes the best option is not to immediately satisfy his or her comfort needs. By running to hold your baby at night every time he or she cries, you’re inadvertently teaching your child that crying will always solve any problems. This means that your child would continue to cry for even less significant nighttime scares. Check to make sure that everything is all right immediately the first time your baby cries. If everything seems to be fine, then rest easy and try to get some sleep. The next time he or she cries, wait just a couple of minutes before you do anything, then make a visit to the crib. If your baby cries again, wait even longer and make this visit shorter.
2. Get Your Baby in a Routine
Start a bedtime routine that will help your baby realize that going to sleep is a different situation with different expectations. Give your baby time get sleepy and to adjust to the thought of going to the crib. Make it a habit for him or her, and your baby will start to become sleepy as soon as the routine is in effect. Let’s look at some examples of bedtime routines. Try giving your baby a warm bath, changing his or her diaper, getting into pajamas and then singing a short lullaby. The routine shouldn’t take long, but it should give your child enough time to become comfortable enough to go to sleep.
1. Keep a Schedule
Keep a consistent schedule and stick with it. The best thing you can do for your baby is to set some rules and boundaries that don’t change. Don’t keep your baby up late at night with a lot of noise, and don’t allow him or her to even stay awake in the living room with you as you relax for the night. Once a certain time hits, maybe 6 or 7 or 8 p.m., it’s time for baby to start his or her bedtime routine. Depending on how old your baby is, your child could sleep for up to 16 hours during the entire day. Some of this time will be spent taking naps during waking hours, but at least half that number should be spent sleeping at night. Make sure that your baby is getting enough sleep at night by allowing him or her to go to bed early. Adjust the exact bedtime schedule to you and your family’s needs, but remember that your baby should be asleep shortly after it gets dark outside.