Just like us, babies are people too and individual people so sadly there’s no one size fits all method of helping babies get to sleep. It may help you feel a little better to know that “sleeping through the night” in baby terms means 5 hours straight. If that’s not happening for you and you’re feeling exhausted and sleep deprived, there are some gentle strategies you can try to help your baby get to sleep and sleep longer.
1. Know your baby’s tired signs
Getting your baby to bed before they’re overtired makes the process so much easier. Tired signs include staring, becoming quiet, losing interest in people, rubbing her eyes or ears, jerky movements (particularly hands or arms), yawning or starting to grumble or grizzle. As soon as you see the first tired sign start the getting into bed process to avoid trying to settle an overstimulated, overtired bub.
2. Have a bedtime ritual or routine
Babies love repetition and a simple set of “its bedtime” cues will help your baby to understand its time for bed. This may be a deep warm bath, then a bottle or breast in the darkened bedroom, a cuddle, wrap and off to bed.
3. Sounds of sleep
Babies are used to hearing the sounds of your body in the womb so baby music that incorporates sounds that mimic their time in the womb can be very settling for babies. CDs of white noise are also available and are very effective for some babies.
4. Rock-A-Bye Baby beds
Baby hammocks such as our Amby Baby or our hire Miyo baby hammock are great tools for settling your baby off to sleep. As your baby moves around the spring in the hammock is activated rocking and bouncing your baby gently back to sleep.
5. Teach your baby day from night
Teach baby the difference between night and day by keeping the lights low and attending to him quietly during night feeds. Save play and chatter for daytime.
6. All Wrapped up
The startle reflex, a primitive survival reflex that produces spontaneous, jerky movements, even in sleep, can be disturbing (literally). Provide a sense of security by swaddling your newborn – wrapping her firmly in a gauze or muslin sheet (in summer) or a soft shawl in winter. Gradually wrap more loosely and discard the wrap as this reflex disappears (by around three months). There’s a range of wraps for sale that are specifically made for swaddling for sleep.
7. Try a Tool
There’s quite a few sleep tools on the market, and the Baby Shusher is being called “The Sleep Miracle”. The Baby Shusher is a revolutionary new tool for parents using an ancient but doctor-tested and approved technique to help soothe your fussy baby and get some much-needed sleep (for both you and baby). You can set the timer for 15 or 30 mins of shushing and there’s an adjustable volume dial. Hey – whatever works right?
7. Temperature control
Its simple but easily overlooked – is your baby warm enough? Or too hot? A cold or hot baby won’t sleep as well as a comfortable one.
8. Gentle massage
Most babies love to be touched so a gentle pre-bed massage is a great way to bond and settle your baby down for a good night’s sleep.
A nightlight in your baby’s room is okay, but choose a small, dim one with a bluish tone that’s cool to the touch. To induce nighttime sleepiness, consider installing dimmers on the lights not only in your baby’s room, but also in other rooms where you both spend a lot of time. Lower the lights in the evening to set the mood. Darkness triggers the brain to release melatonin, a key sleep hormone – which is just what you want – sleep.
10. Avoid night changes
Resist the urge to change your baby every time she wakes up – you’ll just jostle her awake even more. Instead, dress your baby in a high-quality, nighttime nappy at bedtime and change only for #2, #1 can wait. For sleepy nighttime changes, nothing wakes a baby faster than a cold, wet wipe. Try using a warm washcloth instead.
Hopefully one or a combination of these tips will help you get your baby off to sleepyland. G’night.