Helping Your Baby Sleep Through The Night
When you get a new born baby, typically you will may find yourself waking up odd hours of the nigh to take care of it. Since the baby does not have a set sleep schedule, waking up at odd hours will be consistent for the first few weeks. By about I month of age you can start to influence your child’s sleep schedule, but don’t expect your baby to give up middle-of-the-night feedings until some time between the third and fifth month. There are no hard-and-fast rules for getting a child to sleep through the night. Some experts recommend putting a fussy baby to bed, leaving the room, and letting him or her cry until he or she falls asleep-no matter how long it takes. They promise that this technique works in 3 nights or less. Others say to put the child to bed, give a reassuring pat, leave the room, and let the child cry for increasing intervals before returning to the room and calmly reassuring him or her. This method promises to train a child to fall asleep on his or her own within 1 week. Most parents try these and other techniques and find a way that works for them.
Most experts discourage parents from letting their children sleep in bed with them. The restless sleep of an infant can prevent parents from getting enough sleep and can interfere with their need for intimacy. The baby can also fall out of bed or the parent can roll over onto the baby. Letting your child sleep with you can also make training the child to fall asleep independently even more difficult. Try some of the following tips to help your child sleep through the night:
- If you have just fed your baby and he or she is crying, check his or her diaper to make sure it is dry. If not, change the diaper.
- Try cuddling, rocking, or stroking your baby.
- If it has been 1 to 2 hours since the baby’s last feeding, he or she may be hungry, especially during early infancy. Work toward five feedings every 24 hours by the time your baby is about 4 months old.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule. Small children thrive on routine. To help your child develop a regular sleep pattern, put him or her down for naps at about the same time each day and schedule your child’s bedtime for the same time each night.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Before putting your infant to bed at night, engage in relaxing and enjoyable activities-a warm bath or a soothing massage, singing, soft music, or reading.
- Help your child distinguish between night and day. Spend lots of time during the day cuddling, socializing, and playing. Make middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes more brief and less fun, done only by the light of a night light.
- Put your baby in the crib when he or she is quiet, but not yet asleep. Gently rub or pat his or her stomach as you talk or sing softly to help him or her find ways to fall asleep.
- Minimize putting your young baby to bed with a pacifier. A pacifier may interfere with your child’s ability to develop his or her own self-comforting techniques and the child could wake up when the pacifier falls out of his or her mouth.