How To Get A Baby To Sleep: What All New Parents Must Know

How To Get A Baby To Sleep

Figuring out how to get a baby to sleep can be one of the biggest challenges you will face as a new parent. It’s something that everyone talks about, but you don’t realize just how difficult and emotionally trying it can be until you are there yourself, pacing endlessly, as tired as you have ever been in your life, but unable to get your baby to sleep so that you can rest yourself.

However, you should not let the stress overwhelm you. There are many time-tested tactics that parents have used to help their children peacefully fall asleep, and you too can put these into practice. All children are different, but working through your options will help you find the solution that works best for your son or daughter. Try them out, and it can revolutionize your nighttime schedule and allow parenting to be the joy that it was meant to be.

The Right Attitude

It all starts with your own attitude. If you think that you can force your child to adhere to a schedule and fall asleep on time, you’re never going to get the results that you want. Instead, you have to understand that it is all about promoting sleep and crafting an atmosphere that caters to relaxation and rest.

It could still take time for your child to sleep, but the right atmosphere is critical. You must be invested in creating this atmosphere. Also, remembering that children do not stick to your schedule and getting over your unrealistic expectations can help to relieve your own stress—which may be the very thing that allows you to help your child the most.

Embrace Routines

People tend to be creatures of habit, and that is just as true with infants and young children as it is with adults. You want to set up a routine for the baby that he or she can get used to, culminating in sleep. There are two different parts to this process, starting with a set schedule and also including the actions that you take.

As far as the timing goes, you want to get on a consistent schedule. For example, if you want your child to feel ready to sleep at eight o’clock, then you need to start the sleeping process at the same time every day, without exception. This way, when eight o’clock rolls around, the child is already going to begin feeling tired on their own, and you just have to help them along the way.

If you vary the time that the child goes to bed drastically, it can be confusing and disconcerting for them, and it becomes harder to get them to sleep when you want them to.

Children also get used to the routine of specific actions that you take before it is time for bed. For example, you may find that your child responds best to being rocked to sleep. If this takes roughly 20 minutes, you want to start rocking the child at the same time each day. This association can be strongly made after just a short time, but it is important to be consistent.

This is also true for things like nursing the child, singing bedtime songs, lying down with the child, or whatever tactics you find work the best.

Find Out What Your Child Prefers

As noted, there are many different things that you can do to get your child ready for bed, from nursing to lying in bed with the child. Test these things out, one at a time, to find out how your child responds. All children are different, with their own wants and desires, their own likes and dislikes.

Never assume that something will work for you just because it worked for a friend or family member with their children.

You need to take an active interest in what your own child likes and thoroughly investigate it so that you use the best possible tactics. If you have another child, it is important to note that this child could also respond to very different tactics than those that worked with the first.

The Power of Associations

Once you start to use specific tactics and rituals, your child is going to get use to these things. This is both good and bad, as associations can be very powerful. It is good, of course, because you can then use the things that the child links to sleep in order to help them fall asleep; it is bad, though, because these things may then become expected and required.

For example, perhaps you always sing and cuddle your daughter to get her to sleep. While this can work beautifully, what happens if she is woken up by a loud noise in the night and she needs to go back to sleep? She’s naturally going to have a hard time doing it without you there to sing to her and cuddle her, like she’s been taught. You have to get up every time to get her to sleep again.

One way to use these associations in the bedroom is to implement things that do not require your presence. For example, some parents buy music boxes and white noise machines—which could make the sound of the rain or the surf, for instance—and put them in the child’s room. The child learns that this noise helps him or her sleep, and that association is formed. If the child wakes up and hears the noise, sleep may come again naturally, without your intervention.

Specific Tactics for Getting Your Child to Sleep

Are you looking for specific tactics that you can use to make it easier to get your child to sleep, things that you can make into part of the daily routine that is discussed above? If so, some of the most popular ones are as follows:

Tactic 1 Walking or pacing with the child, while gently rocking.

Tactic 2 Singing lullabies or softly humming.

Tactic 3 Nestling down with your child in a comfortable chair, letting the baby rest on your chest, in a comforting hug.

Tactic 4 Nursing right before bed, followed by cuddling after the feeding has been completed.

Tactic 5 Taking the child away from toys and distractions to get him or her to calm down about 30 minutes before it is time for bed; this is especially  critical for children who have a high energy level.

Once again, all children are different, so your child may have his or her own techniques that work well. If all else fails, many children will easily fall asleep in the car, so taking a short ride around the block—or perhaps a few rides—may really help. If you use this tactic, though, you must be very calm and careful to keep your child asleep while taking them out of the car seat and going back into the house. For that reason, this is usually a last resort.

Creating the Perfect Bedroom

Of course, getting your child to fall asleep is only half of the battle. You also need the child to stay asleep. Much of this has to do with creating an ideal bedroom that, in and of itself, helps your child sleep. To do this, you should:

Tip 1 Warm the bedsheets before putting your child down, especially in the winter, so that the sudden cold is not jarring.

Tip 2 Use solid shades that do not allow any outside light into the room.

Tip 3 Utilize fans, music machines or white noise machines to cover up noises from outside the bedroom.

Tip 4 Only use pajamas that cause no irritations; if needed, check to make sure that your child is not allergic to the material. Even slight irritations can cause babies to wake.

Tip 5 Keep the bedroom as close to 70 degrees as possible, all year around.

Tip 6 Use vaporizers and dehumidifiers, depending on the season and where you live, so that the humidity in the room is always close to 50.

Tip 7 Swaddle your child tightly; for many newborns, swaddling clothing can often be more comfortable than pajamas specifically because a baby who has been swaddled feels confined and secure.

With a little bit of forethought, you can turn your child’s room into the place where he or she feels absolutely comfortable, safe and relaxed. Not only will this make it easier to get the child to sleep in the first place, but it also makes it easier for the child to stay asleep or to fall back asleep after waking up.

The Importance of a Full Stomach

You may know that it is wise to change your child’s diaper and make sure that the baby is clean and comfortable before bed, but did you also know that a full stomach is critical? For many babies, nursing is calming and relaxing, which can help initially, but a full stomach also helps extend the amount of time a child stays asleep.

Your new baby’s stomach is probably much smaller than you think; it’s perhaps the size of the child’s fist, and often smaller. When they are young, children need to be fed often, with small amounts of food each time.

If your baby is growing close to getting hungry again when you put him or her down for the night, sleep won’t last long. You want to make sure that the child is full and content before bed.

The Beauty of a Sleeping Child

For many parents, there is nothing better than a sleeping baby. As you can see, there are many tactics that can prove incredibly useful. Always be sure that you consistently use the ones your child likes the most, and, once you learn how to get a baby to sleep, parenting will become as wonderful as you’ve always dreamed.

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