How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Quickly
Babies are complicated and simple creatures both at the same time. Our precious little bundles of joy become irritating, frustrating, stressful, and downright depressing at times. A lot of parents, particularly first-timers, hear the horror stories about lack of sleep, lack of free time, and all of the stress that comes with it. However, few actually realize how daunting it can actually be until they experience it for themselves.
Developing a Routine
Routines can sometimes take a bit of work to establish but once you have one things will be much, much easier. You can develop a routine that works for you or fits your schedule as best as possible. Just keep in mind that your baby needs a lot of sleep so will need a lot of available hours throughout the night to sleep as well as hours throughout the day. He or she should get most of their sleep at night while reserving naps for the day.
You may soon be able to read your baby's signs to determine when they are tired and you can prepare them for sleeping.
The age of your baby will play a big role in your baby's sleep patterns. Younger babies tend to sleep a lot more throughout the day and night but wake more frequently to eat. As your baby gets older they will sleep for longer periods of time. As each baby is different this pattern will vary from baby to baby.
Developing a routine may take a lot of patience. There may be a lot of times when you just want to give in and you'll do just about anything to get your baby to sleep. Its important to always remember safety as parents can sometimes disregard certain safety measures when they are sleep deprived and stressed out. No matter how tired you are you always have to make sure you don't fall asleep unless your baby is in a safe spot.
Starting a Routine:
Remember that your baby begins with NO schedule or routine AT ALL. Although it may not run perfectly every time, you can help to develop a learned routine for your baby that benefits the both of you and makes life a whole lot easier.
Select a time that you would like your baby to sleep from. If you go to bed early, give your baby an early bedtime. If you go to bed late, pick a later bedtime for your baby.
You will need to place your baby to sleep at the same time each night but you can give yourself a window of about 30 minutes. Sometimes your baby might fall asleep slightly earlier than normal or slightly later than normal.
Make an effort to have a quiet, relaxing environment with minimal stimulation for about 30 minutes prior to putting baby to bed. This will not only help to calm and relax your baby, but they will also begin to recognize that "quiet time" is a soothing time that will eventually lead to bedtime. Soft music and dimmed lights are fine, just try to keep the television and bright lights off.
Just before placing your baby into their bassinet or crib, change their diaper and give them a feeding. This will help them stay comfortable and full until their next feeding without waking too soon. If possible, change and feed them near their crib or bassinet and in a dimly lit room.
When they appear to be sleepy, gently place them to sleep. Stay quietly next to them for a moment before leaving the room so they can be comforted by your presence.
If your baby cries, do not leave them for long. Go and hold your baby until they are relaxed and attempt to put them down again. This can be a very trying time, especially if you are very tired yourself.
Repeat these steps until your baby is sleeping: attempt to feed, hold your baby, put down to sleep. Follow your routine the same way each night until your baby begins to recognize when bedtime is.
Transitioning to the Crib From the Bassinet
Transitioning to the crib from the bassinet may be simple for you and your baby and you may discover you have no issues at all. Contrarily you may find yourself dealing with a fussy baby that absolutely refuses to accept his new sleeping space.
Try a using a familiar sound that your baby may have become accustomed to while in his or her bassinet. There are a number of sound machines and various devices that play soothing music and noises intended to help your baby sleep.
If you continue a similar routine as you had previously, your baby shouldn't take much time to adjust to their new sleeping space.
How Much Should My Baby Sleep?
As with many aspects of infancy, every baby is different when it comes to sleeping. Some fall asleep faster, some need very little help falling asleep, some stay asleep longer, and the list goes on.
Your baby will sleep whenever he or she needs/wants to. Although you may start to develop a nighttime routine, babies will still take naps during the day.
You may begin to see signs of when your baby is tired. These include crying, fussing, rubbing eyes, and other possible signs that may be unique to your baby. They may begin to occur at a certain time of day which will eventually help you to predict when nap time is. This way, you can help to induce sleep by changing your baby, making sure he or she is fed, and soothing your baby to sleep by rocking, stroking the back softly, and ensuring the environment is quiet and relaxing.
Your baby will nap for as long as they are able to given that the sleeping environment is relaxing and not stimulating (e.g. bright, noisy, etc.). If possible, allow your baby to sleep as long as they nee or want to. A lot of growth and development occurs during sleep. Not to mention you will have a happier baby.
Baby Sleeping Safety
Safety is the most important thing when it comes to a baby's sleep. This is a basic list of recommendations from various health institutions for practicing baby sleep safety. If you would like more information please see the "Further Reading" section below.
Put baby to sleep on his or her back at least until they are able to roll over on their own. Even when they can roll over, place them on their back when you lay them to sleep. Since health professionals began recommending this in 1992 the rate is SIDS has dropped by about half.
NEVER swaddle a baby that can roll over on their own. It may prevent them from being able to roll back on their own should they flip to their stomach. They will also not be able to lift their chst and head up easily while on their stomach if their arms are bound in a swaddle.
Make sure the crib or bassinet mattress is firm and there are no objects, including loose blankets or sheets, in there with them.
Don't leave baby to sleep in swings, strollers, chairs, or anything similar.
Ensure the room is cool rather than too warm and that baby is not bundled too warmly. Babies prefer to sleep in cooler rooms and it has been recommended as being safer.
Do not sleep with your baby in your bed. The soft bedding, or even you, could smother them.
Quick Tips to Help Baby Fall Asleep
- Ensure a quiet and dark environment
- Use white noise such as a fan or quiet sleep machine
- Walk with baby in your arms as you quietly hum to her/him
- Rock baby slowly in a chair
- Take baby outside for a breath of fresh air
- Take baby for a walk in the stroller
- Make sure baby is fed and changed
- Make sure baby is not too hot or cold
- Gently stroke baby's back or head
Try not to let your baby cry for long on their own. If you need a quick break, take one. Return to your baby to ensure you are still there and able to comfort them. Remember that the crying and fussiness will not last forever. You will eventually get some sleep and you will survive.