How To Get Your Baby To Sleep In Under Ten Minutes
Sleep tips for babies
Babies are funny creatures – when they are tired, they do not naturally fall asleep, even if their surroundings are comfortable. Instead, they will thrash about, rub their eyes, pull their own hair or scratch their face, and cry. And cry, and cry, and cry. It may seem like they can't possibly be tired, they must be in pain, or hungry, or need a nappy (diaper) change, and it seems like whatever you try, your baby can just not fall asleep and they become more and more restless and frustrated the longer it takes.
There are a few methods of encouraging a baby to drop off to sleep, and these have varying success rates depending on the age of your baby, and on their personality – some babies enjoy being rocked, some hate it, other babies like to be left alone whilst some feel scared or alone. The most likely methods are:
Have a good bedtime routine for your baby
This method involves performing the same actions in the same order, and at the same time each day, until your baby learns what is happening. An example of a bedtime routine is:
6pm – last bottle of milk of the day
6.30pm – play on a playmat with some age-appropriate toys
7pm – bathtime with lavender bubble bath or a little lavender oil in the bathtub
7.15pm – dry your baby, give him or her cuddles, followed by storytime
7.30pm – bedtime
It is important that the routine is performed exactly the same each evening, so it wouldn't be suitable for a family that is not always at home at the same time each evening. Of course, there can be the odd exception, but generally the routine should stay the same.
Up until a baby is around ten to twelve weeks of age, they will quieten and possibly even fall asleep when they hear white noise. This occurs naturally in the home – place your baby's bassinet or moses basket in front of the washing machine whilst its running, or let your baby listen to the vacuum cleaner going. A hair drier also works well. Of course, you can't run these appliances for hours on end, which is why you can find this white noise on a CD.
Use a cot mobile or music toy
You can get bedtime lullaby toys that light up and play songs, lullabies or sounds such as sea sounds, and last around five minutes. It may seem like a gimmick but babies do actually respond to lullabies and these toys are timed in a way so as to encourage your baby to fall asleep before the end or to be sufficiently contented enough to do so shortly afterwards.
Some of the best are the Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse and the Playskool Lullaby Glow Worm and these are available in boy and girl colours.
Play lullabies or music
Like with the musical toy, babies also respond to ordinary lullabies or music, and you can find a wide range of baby CDs on the market with some aimed especially at encouraging your baby to sleep.
Singing to your baby
If your baby is crying because he or she is exhausted and needs to sleep, it might seem like the last thing you would want to do, but singing your own lullabies or nursery rhymes, or any songs, will comfort your baby.
Whether you rock your baby in your arms or bounce their bouncy chair or push them in a pram, the motion may help your baby to fall asleep. The downside to this is that as soon as you stop, perhaps to put them into their cots, they might awaken. But if all else fails, this might be worth a try.
Some people swear by a drop of lavender oil in the bath before bedtime or on the side of the mattress. Make sure if you use real lavender oil that none of it actually touches your baby's skin.
Pacifies or dummies
These are loved or hated by parents all around the world, so it's probably not a good idea to recommend them but just to say that they are the decision of the individual parents. If you do use pacifiers, your baby will want to have it every night and they will often become attached to the same one, so if it becomes lost, your baby will be inconsolable. For some parents, they aren't worth the hassle, for others they are a godsend.
A muslin or taggy
Babies like the feeling and the comfort of having something close to their face when they are settling down to go to sleep. A muslin is a good choice, as it is breathable, but sometimes babies pull these tightly over their noses and mouths so their use must be monitored. Taggy toys offer the same comfort but with less of a risk of suffocation. It is not a good idea to allow babies to pull blankets over their faces, due to the weight of them.
It might seem like it won't ever happen, but eventually all babies learn to go to sleep by themselves, so if your baby seems to struggle now, take comfort in the fact that it's not forever.
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