Sleepless nights are just one of those things that come along with raising kids. Whether they’re infants or teenagers, it seems. As parents we may never get a restful night sleep. Sometimes we’re up with worry, sometimes our kids are sick. And when they’re younger, sometimes it’s a matter of establishing a good bedtime routine. With newborns, you more than likely won’t be able to do this but as your baby gets older, here is some advice for settling your baby into a bedtime routine.
Your baby needs to learn to sleep on his own; the transition from sleeping with his mother to sleeping by himself takes some time. Of course, as an added bonus, if you get your baby to learn to sleep on his own you will also get some much needed rest yourself. To instill good sleeping habits in your baby, research and try to employ different baby sleep tips: try a lot of things and see what works for you, and don’t be afraid to trust your instincts.
Many baby sleep tips center on the idea of establishing routines and associations for your child between nighttime and sleep. The sooner your child begins to associate bedtime with sleep, the more likely he is to be able to go to sleep without a fuss. A period that is often overlooked, however, in establishing day vs. night associations, is the period of “transition” – that is, the one between being awake and falling asleep. Here are some transitioning techniques to try:
Try what is sometimes called “fathering down.” Just before placing the baby into bed, the father should cradle the baby in such a way that the baby’s head rests on the father neck. The father should then talk gently to the child. Because the male’s voice is much deeper than the female’s, babies are often more soothed by it, and will fall asleep more easily after being exposed to it for some time.
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You can also try what is sometimes referred to as “wearing down.” This is effective if your baby has been active throughout the day and is too excited to go to bed easily. All you have to do is place your baby in a sling or carrier – “wear him” in other words – for about half an hour before his bedtime. Simply go about your regular household activities: being close to a parent and slowly rocked about before bedtime will provide your child with an easier transition from being awake to being asleep.
Finally, if you’ve exhausted other options, you can go for the tried and true method of “driving down.” Most parents are probably familiar with this as a last resort: place your baby in the car and drive around for awhile until he falls asleep. This one, while inconvenient, usually works every time, and if you desperately need some sleep it can be a godsend.
Obviously, you don’t want to do things like drive around every night to get your child to sleep. Nor do you want to have to carry him around in a sling. The idea, though, is to start with these more drastic techniques and then slowly ease out of them. Keep in mind what a major transition your baby is going through when he is tiny: he’s never slept on his own before. He simply doesn’t know how to transition himself from being awake to being asleep. By employing these transition techniques you will be slowly teaching him how to do so, and as they are gradually removed your baby will learn good sleeping habits, which will ensure that both you and your child get a good night’s rest.
What tips or advice would you share with a new parent for settling your baby into a bedtime routine?