How to Safely Get Your Baby to Sleep
Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional. Please seek the advice of your pediatrician before you change your child’s diet, exercise program, or make any other lifestyle changes.
Immediately after your child is born, you are completely convinced that nobody will ever take him out of your arms. Well, it doesn’t take long before you realize that he needs to go to sleep in his own crib. From birth to about 3-4 months, rock the baby to sleep. That time is for mother/child bonding whether you’re nursing the baby or not. Talk softly to your baby and sing lullabies. Count in a rhythmic manner while you softly pat his back or bottom.
Once the baby is between 6 months and a year old, it is time to put him in his crib awake. The following is a list of techniques to help prepare him for a good sleep:
- Do not give your child simple carbohydrates, sugar or caffeine anytime after dinner. Keep dessert to fruit based items, and don't add sugar. There are some delicious fruit based recipes on the internet.
- Play hard and wear him out about an hour before bedtime. If he is old enough, tickle him, chase him, wrestle with him, and keep him active. Then bathe him.
- Settle him down 30 minutes before bedtime by holding him, touching him, and playing soft music or a mellow movie on TV. You may even slow dance with him, or read a book.
- When he is really ready to go to sleep, put him in his crib, on his belly or his side (Be sure to discuss it with his pediatrician).
- Pat his back softly with one hand in a repetitive, monotonous, unchanging pattern. With the other hand, softly put pressure on his shoulders. Do not hold him down. Just give him a little resistance when he tries to get up. If he does get up, pick him up and place him back in the crib on his belly or his side, and tell him “It’s bedtime; I love you. Good night” in a slow, calm voice. This will probably need to be repeated several times.
The whole process could take anywhere from 1 minutes to 30 minutes. The keys to success are patience and persistence. Be sure to be consistent, repetitive, and calm. Before you know it, your baby will lay right down and go right to sleep when you put him in bed at night.
You can start this bedtime behavior at any age, and it is important to make as smooth a transition as possible. When you know your child is becoming sleepy, I recommend the following steps:
- Prepare the room in a sleep friendly atmosphere.
- Place baby in the crib while talking softly to him, telling him its bed time. If he cries...
- Or begins to cry, speak to softly to him from outside the room for 30-60 seconds. If he continues to cry...
- Go in the room and let him see you while you tell him in a calm, soft tone that it is his bed time for 30-60 seconds. If he doesn't start to calm down...
- Softly, but firmly, pat his little bottom or back in a steady rhythmic pattern, but DO NOT PICK HIM UP, as you continue talking to him for 1-2 minutes. If he hasn't calmed down by then, pick him up and proceed with your previous routine.
Do this 1-2 times a day for 5-7 days. Then lengthen the time frame from 60-90 seconds for each step, and repeat the same frequency. Eventually, your child will get to know his crib, become content that you are still there if he needs you, and will be able to adjust easier. It is very, very important that you do not take shortcuts or become frustrated as this is a long, healthy process. Please be patient.
As our children grow and learn, they practice manipulation and will occasionally try to test our authority. Once again, be consistent, repetitive, and calm in your approach to correct your child. Also know that, as a last resort, you may need to just let him cry it out. I would only recommend this if the child is over 6 months old, and you know for a fact that nothing is wrong with him (has a clean diaper, no fever, not hungry, not being pinched by diaper or clothing, not too hot or cold, etc.) Keep in mind, however, that each child is different, and nobody knows your child better than you do. If you need to alter his transition period to suit both of your needs, and you achieve the same result, by all means, do so.
Sounds; Appeal to Your Child's Sense of Hearing
Type of music, tone of voice, and ambient noise can keep your child awake if the sounds are not soothing. Music with a slow tempo, within a mellow range is the best to play while your child sleeps. Instrumentals and Indian, Arabic or Asian music can be extremely relaxing. Nature sounds can also create an atmosphere of peace and comfort, as well as classical music. You may find that listening to relaxing music helps adults sleep soundly too!
If you need to tell your child to lay down, use a mild, calm voice every time. BE CONSISTENT. If you have to tell your child to lay down 47 times, you must be sure to use your mild, calm voice. If you become frustrated or angry, your voice will reflect your aggravation and stimulate or upset your child.
Try to keep ambient noise at bay. If you are unable to do so, turn up the music a bit and run a fan to create white noise.
Sights; Appeal to Your Child's Sense of Sight
The lighting in the room should be fairly dark, but not so dark that you cannot see. Prepare the room to look as if the sky outside was overcast with gray clouds, and all of the blinds and curtains are closed. It's a good idea to have a bright colored mobile hanging from the crib as well. This way the baby can stare at it if he is laying on his side.
If he has a favorite stuffed animal, doll, toy, or blanket give it to him. It will give him comfort. If he turns away from his toy, and is looking away from the object that is just fine. He knows it is there. You may also put a T-shirt or other article of clothing in the crib with your child so that he can smell the natural odors of his Mommy which will comfort and relax him.
Babies Need Lots of Human Contact From Birth
Touch; Appeal to Your Child's Sense of Touch
Once your child is calm and you are patting his back in a steady rhythm, use your free hand to softly stroke the child’s head, back, and face. Don’t rub or massage his belly, legs, arms, feet or hands as it may tickle and keep him from dozing off. Be sure to use a flat, open hand instead of your fingers to avoid tickling as well.
Soft human touch is one of the most comforting experiences to a baby. It makes them feel loved, relaxed, and secure.
Positive Energy; Appeal to Your Child's Natural Intuitive Senses
Children aren’t stupid. In fact, they are extremely observant, and their little brains work like sponges. They take in many sights and sounds that they cannot understand. They can tell the difference between regular conversation and arguments. If you are unhappy, your child will sense it and become uncomfortable.
Always try to fluff off any issues you have on your mind when you are with the baby. Be positive. It benefits both of you, so just relax. Be happy. Be grateful. Be Blessed. Enjoy your baby.
Happy parenting! It is, after all, the most important job in the world!
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