Getting Your Baby to Sleep
You’ve just brought your little bundle of joy home from the hospital. Your heart swells with affection as you gaze upon their sweet angelic face, but when it’s time to put them to sleep, your heart begins to race with anxiety. It’s a palpable feeling, and your brow starts to form tiny beads of sweat. How do I get my baby to sleep? Better yet, how do I get them to stay asleep? Will they cry? Will I cry? Shouldn’t there be a manual for this?
It’s okay; you can relax. We’ve got you covered. Here are 4 ways to help your baby sleep safely and soundly.
How to Put Your Baby to Sleep in 4 Easy Steps
Follow these recommendations to create a safe and restful sleep environment for your little one:
1. Send the right signals.
As babies cannot distinguish between day and night, it’s important to establish a series of practices that help them develop a routine. Ease your baby toward sleep by calming their senses. This helps decrease cortisol levels and indicates that it’s time to rest. To do this, consider rocking your baby or singing a lullaby. If you weren’t given the gift of a soothing voice, you may want to try one of the following sensory soothing techniques:
2. Know when to put them down.
This one may be tricky, but it’s important. Be sure to put your baby to bed when they are drowsy but still awake. Doing so allows them to learn to fall asleep on their own — and in their own bed. Holding or rocking your baby until they are completely asleep may seem like the best option, but it often makes it hard for your little one to go back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night.
3. Let them fuss (a little).
If your child wakes up during the night, wait a few minutes before responding to their cries. They may be able to go back to sleep on their own. If the crying continues, check on them, but do not turn the light on or pick them up. Hopefully, your baby will be able to fall asleep again, but if they cannot settle themselves, try to determine why. Are they hungry, wet, or feverish? Address their needs and then repeat steps one and two, as needed.
4. Keep quiet during nighttime feedings and diaper changes.
Of course, you will need to interact with your baby throughout the evening and early morning hours. During these times, be sure to remain as quiet as possible. It goes without saying that the more you talk, the more likely you are to fully wake your baby, which means you’ll spend more time helping them fall back asleep. So keep noise to a minimum when possible — unless it’s a soft lullaby.
Important Tips for Sleeping Safely
Back is best.
Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, and avoid stomach or side positions. Back sleeping decreases the chance of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Keep the crib empty.
Do not put anything in the crib. Your baby’s sleep area should be free of toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, bumper pads, and other sleeping materials.
You may be tempted to dress your baby in warm clothing before putting them to sleep. However, this can cause overheating, so it’s better to dress your little one for room temperature.
Allow a little noise.
During the day, live your life as you normally would — wash the dishes, do laundry, play fetch with the dog. Some noise is okay during the daytime because your baby needs to learn how to sleep through it. Trust us; you want a baby who can sleep through the noise. At night, try to be relatively quiet, perhaps using a sound machine to drown out every little sound. This helps your baby determine when it’s nap time versus when it’s night time.
Things Not to Do
Of course, there are many other ways to help your baby rest. But here are a few things you shouldn’t try:
1. Keep your baby awake all day.
Despite what you may have heard, this actually doesn’t work. Being overtired can create undue stress for your little one — making them (and everyone nearby) pretty miserable.
2. Put cereal in their bedtime bottle.
Eating cereal before bedtime can cause excessive gas pain, creating added restlessness for your child. Babies should only have milk or formula until they can eat off a spoon (typically 6- to 9-months-old).
3. Hold your baby as you fall asleep.
Safe sleep is just as important as restful sleep. Never fall asleep holding your baby as this could potentially put them in a dangerous position. If you’re tired, put your baby back in the crib.
How Pediatrics East Can Help
If you have any questions or concerns, please call our nurse’s line or schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. We are happy to answer any questions you have.
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