When it is time to go to bed, adults have our routines: a cup of tea, a good book, watch a little TV, brush your teeth, or take a relaxing bath. No matter what routine you have, it helps you to sleep better. Babies are no different. They need a routine to help them get to sleep as well. It is up to you to find out what works best for your baby.
For babies, the routines can be fairly simple and shouldn’t take too long. If it takes too long, the baby can sometimes get a second wind and be harder to get to sleep. A bath is a nice start to the evening. There are even soothing baby baths that are nice to use. Then you can snuggle them into some comfy pajamas.
After that, sitting together in a rocking chair is a nice way to spend some time together before the baby nods off to sleep. Singing or playing some lullabies while you rock can help relax the baby to sleep. You have to be careful not to move too soon to put the baby in the crib, or you may find yourself starting over. Watch for steady breathing, and relaxed arms and legs.
Another wonderful addition to any bedtime routine is reading bedtime stories. This is one that will continue as the baby gets older. Children love bedtime stories, and it also encourages them to become readers themselves.
It may take awhile to find what works best for your baby at bedtime. Give it a week or two before you make any changes to see if the baby will adjust to it. If it’s still not working, try a slight change, only replacing one part of the routine. Eventually you will find the right combination.
Consistency is the key, once you’ve established a routine that works. It may be hard to keep up with at times, but babies need that steady habit. Once they are used to it, bedtime won’t be a struggle, but an enjoyable time for both of you.
Tips for Helping Baby Sleep the Whole Night Through
Getting a baby to sleep through the night is one of the first things new parents look forward to after coming home from the hospital. However, new parents have to remember that it takes time for the baby to sleep through the night. Newborns will sleep anything from sixteen to twenty hours a day, usually a couple hours at a time. Their small stomachs means that they need to eat frequently, so it will take time before they are physically ready to sleep all night. Most infants are capable of sleeping all night by about three months.
Many parents set up a cradle in their room for those first few months to make those night-time feedings easier. Other families have adopted a co-sleeping method, where the baby is in the parents’ bed (with baby-proofing precautions, such as a rail on the outside edge and a firm mattress). But no matter which method works for your family, the baby can’t sleep through the night until they are physically ready to do so. Trying to force it too soon will just frustrate everyone.
One night, when the baby is around three or four months, you’ll wake up and realize they are still asleep. It’s a very nice feeling. But what do you do after you get used to it and they decide to not sleep all night again? By now, you should have a well-developed bedtime routine, but you may find you need to adjust things a little. Nap times begin to change, with the baby taking fewer and shorter naps. Sometimes simply adjusting the naps will take care of things, and your little one will be sleeping soundly all night again.
You may also need to adjust the before bedtime feeding a bit. If the baby’s tummy is full closer to bedtime, they will sleep longer. Getting the baby to sleep at least five to six hours is a good start when adjusting to going longer between feedings.
However, there are those babies who just don’t want to go back to sleep. They wake up either cranky or want to play. You have a few options. Some parents use the “cry it out” method, where they let the baby cry for increasing intervals, until they learn to fall asleep on their own. Others use a “peek in and check” method where they come in, but do not take the baby from the bed. They comfort them and help them drift back to sleep. Some have continued to use the co-sleeping method and just let the baby nurse and go back to sleep; some mothers barely realize the baby has been awake.
Another thing that might help is to give the baby a massage before bedtime. This can help the baby to relax more, and hopefully drift off into a deeper sleep. If they wake, you may want to give them a very short massage, possibly only on the arms and legs until they relax again.
Every child is different, so you need to find what works for you and your baby. Once you do, stick to it. Establishing a routine will help the baby realize that this is the way things are going to work. Before long, everyone is getting more sleep and feeling much more rested during the day.
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