No one said parenting would be easy, but odds are that you never anticipated it would be tough. Most parents or parents-to-be wait expectantly and eagerly for the arrival of their child only to be greeted with weeks and months of fatigue, exhaustion and sleeplessness instead of bliss Ė because the bundle of joy refuses to sleep through the night. If your baby does sleep uninterrupted through the night you should thank your lucky stars, as wakeful and interrupted sleep is the norm with almost all babies. While this is fine with newborn infants and babies less than three to four months; itís a habit that needs to be modified if your baby is any older.
Newborn babies will wake up in the wee hours to be fed before drifting back to sleep, but itís a routine that will continue if the cycle isnít broken. While interrupted sleep and poor quality sleep may be okay for those few months itís not something you, your baby or your household should adjust to. Poor quality and interrupted sleep takes a serious toll on health for all of us, no matter our age. Your child is going to be increasingly dependent on you for a good many more years, so get healthy and make sure youíre physically up for the challenges of parenting!
Baby Sleep Solutions
Your future isnít as bleak as it may appear as there are plenty of solutions to sleeping problems in babies. If your child is past three or four months, he/she is probably just habituated to waking up in the middle of the night and this pattern can only be broken if you make the effort. There are a number of baby sleep training methods and tips for baby sleep that can help, but itís largely a course of trial and error. Parenting is a learning experience and you will be a scientist of sorts conducting behavioral experiments, carefully observing and improving the results. The test subject is of course your own little precious guinea pig! This is an important part of parenting as all babies are different and although there are certain approaches that will usually work on most babies some babies will respond better to specific approaches, while others will show no response at all.
Here are some tips and sleep solutions for babies to help you cope with sleeping problems in babies and children
1. Creatures of Habit
Ė As a species we are all creatures of habits and this is especially true for babies. These little humans form habits and routines very easily and it is up to you as a parent to enforce and promote regular routines. Consistency is extremely important and if you follow a healthy routine your baby will soon adjust to the routine, starting to feel sleepy as bedtime approaches. This may happen faster with some babies, while in other cases it may require some patience. Nevertheless, following a regular schedule is important.
2. Longer Intervals of Wakefulness
- The longer the intervals of wakefulness the more time your baby is likely to spend sleeping. As your baby touches four or five months he/she should be able to stay up for a few hours at a stretch. To encourage this behavior you can try helping him/her to change position frequently. A flip from the tummy to the back or vice versa will not just change the scenery for your curious baby but it can be physically stimulating as well. You can even put move your baby into an infant seat for a while or carry him/her around while chattering and cooing gently. Babies have short attention spans so donít try and force any particular activity, instead keep trying different variations.
3. Donít Eliminate Nap Time
- While increasing periods of wakefulness is important, try not to go overboard. Donít apply the same logic that we do to adults when dealing with babies. Keeping sleep to a minimum or depriving your baby of nap hours during the day can actually be counterproductive. Allow your baby to nap periodically during the day. This wonít just give you a much needed break but it is also essential for your babyís growth and development, mentally and physically.
4. Sleep Location
Ė It is absolutely essential for your baby to be comfortable if he/she is to nap for longer durations. While short naps while perched on your shoulder, in the stroller or even in the car seat may be fine, when youíre trying to coax your baby to sleep for longer durations in the night make sure that he/she is sleeping in a crib and it should be extremely comfortable.
5. Lay the Groundwork
Ė Donít expect your baby to cooperate and willingly drift off to sleep when it suits your convenience. You need to set the mood by allowing your child to wind down all activities gradually, a little while before bedtime. Do not attempt to suddenly take away toys and dump him/her into the crib. This is more likely to provoke indignant crying that will keep you up for hours.
Ė Donít send your baby to bed on an empty tummy or with a full bladder. This is very obviously not conducive to longer sleep duration and your baby will probably be up bawling within a couple of hours. Likewise, donít invite guests over once itís past your babyís bedtime, unless they can keep their voices down.
7. Donít Pander to Tantrums
Ė Donít let your baby get the better of you. Babies are a lot smarter than you think and they can be pretty devious this early, learning important life skills for adolescence when they will need to get the better of you! If your baby finds that you respond to crying by carrying or playing with him/her, the behavior will continue. Instead gently stroke or speak soothingly to your baby when he/she wakes up crying. Once your child realizes that play is out of the question he/she will simply go back to sleep.
8. Sleeping Aids
Ė Certain fragrances like those produced by natural essential oils like lavender can promote sleep as they encourage relaxation. This practice is not recommended for babies under six months however or for babies with sensitive skin and noses. Safer sleeping aids for babies include warm baths and massages shortly before bedtime. 9. The Perfect Bedtime
Ė All babies have different energy levels and there may be some variation in the ideal bedtime for babies, but by and large, experts agree that babies under 1 year of age should go to bed by around 6:30 or 7:30pm. Early to bed doesnít imply early to rise when dealing with babies and a good nightís sleep will often result in the baby waking up later!