If you are the parent of a newborn baby, you probably aren’t getting a lot of sleep right now. Even if your baby is several weeks or months old, he still may not have established a predictable sleep pattern, which means you never know when you’ll get several hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Newborns have very small tummies, and it doesn’t take long for their hunger pains to start. As you well know, when a baby is hungry, sleepy, or wet, he doesn’t have much patience. He wants to be satisfied immediately. There are some steps you can take, however, to encourage your baby to sleep better and longer.
Of course, nobody should expect a newborn to sleep through the night, but if you start instilling a bedtime ritual with your infant, eventually he should become a better sleeper. Because your baby spent so much time confined in the womb, he is used to sleeping in a snug environment. You can recreate that environment by swaddling your baby with a receiving blanket. More than likely, the nurses at the hospital swaddled your baby.
You simply lay your baby on the blanket with one of the corners behind the baby’s head. Bring another corner over your baby, and tuck it behind the baby’s shoulder. Pull the bottom of the blanket up, and tuck it behind the baby. Now, pull the opposite corner of the blanket across the baby, and you should have a tightly swaddled baby. Remember-always lay your baby on his or her back to sleep. This has been proven to reduce infant deaths due to SIDS.
As your baby continues to grow, you still need to pay attention to his sleeping environment. A womb is a noisy place, and you can help your baby sleep by providing white noise. You can run a fan or humidifier to muffle other outside sounds.
You also need to teach your baby how to settle himself to sleep. When your baby reaches around three or four months of age, it is a good idea to start laying him down in his crib when he is drowsy but still awake. He needs to learn how to drift off to sleep on his own. If he becomes dependent on someone to rock him, nurse him, or give him a bottle in order to sleep, he will expect that same method even if he wakes in the middle of the night.
As your baby gets a little older, he may realize what you are doing and begin to howl in protest when you leave the room. While it may hurt you to do so, you really need to let him cry for a while. It is alright to go to him and speak to him soothingly, but you really don’t need to pick him up. Sometimes when parents repeatedly go back into their child’s room, though, this makes the child angrier. The first few nights will be the roughest, but eventually, your baby will learn to fall asleep.
It is a good idea to create some type of bedtime ritual. You might want to give the baby his bath, read him a book, and/or sing him a song. You can then lay him down and tell him goodnight. Eventually, he will learn that this is his time to go to sleep, and while you might occasionally have to listen to his wails of protest, he should be able to drift off by himself. By the same respect, if he wakes in the night, he should be able to comfort himself back to sleep.
Try to stick to a routine as much as possible. Babies and children thrive on their routines. They like knowing what to expect. Of course, there are circumstances that will arrive, and these may break up your routine. You can quickly reestablish it the next night, though. Teaching a baby good sleep patterns will foster a happy, healthier child and will provide more rest and energy for you.Try to stick