Sleep is an essential part of every human being’s life but it can sometimes prove evasive. Babies have the uncanny habit of waking up at night and sleeping through most of the day. This is of course disruptive to the family and especially the mum because chances are she will be the one getting up alone for quite some time.
Babies can wake up for all sorts of reasons including needing a feed, teething pain and a need for a little more comfort or reassurance. Unfortunately for you, they don’t really look at what your day was like or what time you went to bed. With time the sleep deprivation will get the best of you and you find yourself unable to properly function. Even being a great parent can be difficult when you’re running on autopilot. How then can you get your little munchkin to sleep for most of the night?
Create a distinction between daytime and nighttime feeds
Try and have lively feeds during the day with a little song and jig maybe. You can also just talk to the baby more, make faces, maintain eye contact and make it a little more social. Do the opposite for night feeds. Keep it calm and quiet. You can turn the lights down so they notice a difference in that too. Her body will slowly adjust to the differences.
Give the baby time to settle herself and fall asleep on her own
An older baby (from about four months) will be able to settle themselves. Many mothers, especially first-timers, will run to their baby at the sound of a small stifled cry even if they just put the baby down. Babies will sometimes cry as soon as you put them down but give them a little time to try and work things out on their own. Listen for a bit and they may just calm down and get to sleep. You may need to do this more than once until your baby settles or well, doesn’t. Chances are she will learn to settle after a while and like every other parenting thing, try and try again. If you feel that the baby is a little more distressed than usual pick her up and make sure she’s okay.
There are those that like to rock or feed their babies to sleep. While it makes things easier for you, the baby could develop some dependence on it and then they won’t be able to fall asleep on their own for much longer. Instead of taking the shorter route, try giving your baby a chance for some independent sleep. If she looks sleepy put her down on her bed but make sure she isn’t asleep yet. Let her find sleep on her own and her body’s ‘sleep-wake cycle’ or circadian rhythm will slowly develop and adjust.
Create a simple bedtime routine
Combining a warm bath, a lovely massage, and a change of clothes followed by a lullaby or story works as a great bedtime routine. It all works to calm the baby down and serves both of you well. Do it regularly and your child will realize that all that activity means bedtime. Let the routine not take longer than 30 minutes and make sure it ends in the room the baby sleeps in (that should be your room if the baby is under six months).
A security object
With a baby above six months, you can use the help of a security object like a stuffed animal or a small baby blanket. At this age your baby can tell when you leave and so having the objects smell like you would go a long way in keeping her calm while you are away. You can do this by keeping the item close to you for a while so it can smell of you. Squirting a little breast milk on it may sound a little gross but can work too.
Try all these methods and you will find a few that work for you and your baby. Enjoy your newfound sleeping hours!