Bleary-eyed parents of newborns are constantly looking for ways to help their babies get more sleep. Babies function differently than adults. They enter an initial period of light sleep for about 20 minutes before they enter a deeper sleep, from which it can be harder to wake them. They easily wake while in a light sleep phase. But, there are some ways you can help your fussy baby reach deeper sleep and get a better nights rest.
Whether you realize it or not, adults have an established bedtime routine to help them wind down at the end of a long day. Babies, too, need an established bedtime routine to help prepare themselves for sleep, especially since they tend to be light sleepers for the first half-hour of their bedtime. It can take some trial and error to find what works best for your baby. A warm bath can help calm and soothe one baby while it may become a rowdy play time and have the opposite effect for another. Singing lullabies, reading books, or gentle massage are all ways that parents can help prepare their baby to sleep. Once you find something that works, consistency is key.
Part of this routine should include a set bedtime. While this can be difficult with a newborn that may have an erratic schedule, by the time your baby is 6 to 8 months old they should be ready for a regular bedtime.
Help Baby to Resettle
Another technique is to establish a way to help you baby resettle when they wake during the night. Some babies are natural self-soothers while others require extra effort from their parents. If your baby wakes during the night, try rubbing their back, talking to them softly, or nursing or bottle feeding them back to sleep. All of these activities can keep them from waking completely out of their sleep cycle. With time, they’ll learn to incorporate these measures into their own self-soothing routine.
Establish a Sleep Area
Establish the baby’s room as a sleep only area until they are better at putting themselves to sleep. Play time will have to take place somewhere else. Keep in mind the comfort of your child because their mattress can make a big difference with their ability to sleep. Some beds, like a Purple Bed, enhance your ability to sleep. It may be necessary to buy a new one if for some reason the old one is uncomfortable.
Dim lighting and the proper temperature can help fussy babies settle down. It may also be beneficial to keep the room extra quiet. While this might be easy with your first baby, you may have to take extra measures if you have more than one child. As your baby becomes used to sleeping in this area, their body will automatically respond to entering at the right time of day and began to calm down.
Another option is a comfort object. You may already know what your baby’s comfort object is, but if not, pay attention to their personal preferences. Is there a particular fabric that they like to touch when they are feeling upset? Do you have a favorite shirt that your baby likes to cuddle on? Or is there a blanket they prefer over others? A small stuffed animal, soft baby blanket, or other comfort objects can be placed in the crib with your baby. When they wake during the night, the object can offer the comfort that they are used to getting from you. This can put them on the path to self-soothing.
Trying some of these techniques should help you find a way to help you and your baby get more sleep. You know your baby best, trust your instincts on what kind of techniques will work for you. It may take some trial and error, but in the end, you’ll both end up happier and healthier.