It can be the most rewarding and frustrating time for parents – bedtime. Rewarding, because now you too can get some much-needed rest and frustrating, because at the end of a busy day the last thing you need is a struggle over sleep. Here are a few tips to help make nighttime the right time for sleep:
- Generally, newborns (6-weeks-old and younger) are not developmentally ready for self-soothing. Frequent nighttime changes and feedings are part of their regular routine. Though those late nights deprive parents of sleep, they provide valuable bonding that is vital to baby’s development.
- For newborns, swaddling creates a security for the baby, much like being in the womb. Allow room for baby’s hips and knees to move freely and never cover baby’s face.
- Be conscious of room temperature, as a swaddled baby can get too warm.
- After one month old, it’s recommended that you stop, as swaddling can begin to interfere with your baby’s mobility development. By the time your baby has reached the 3-month mark, the ability to freely move arms and legs is a big factor in your baby getting a comfortable night’s rest.
- Don’t overstimulate during nighttime feedings and diaper changes. Keep the lights low and resist the urge to play and talk with your baby.
- During the first three months it’s good to rock, cuddle and sing as your baby before bed as a way to settle down. Avoid the temptation to get playful, keep it mellow for sleepy fellows.
- A warm bath before bedtime is a great way to relax your baby.
- Soothing after-bath massages, while relaxing for some babies, could end up stimulating your baby as well. So try to keep it gentle, not playful.
- A consistent bedtime, even in the early months, helps establish a routine that nighttime is for sleeping. This, along with a regular night-time routine of bathing and rocking, helps your child understand it’s bed time. Creating that routine and regular bedtime are the foundation of getting your baby to self-soothe, or go to sleep on their own.
- If you’re breastfeeding, watch the caffeine. It can have effects on your baby’s body.
- It’s also important that baby is sufficiently napping during the day. If your baby is too tired, it could make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
- The choice is up to you, but many experts recommend letting your baby cry it out for 10-15 minutes before going back to comfort him. This may take several attempts and the times should be extended between each revisit.
- If you’re still having trouble getting your little one to self-soothe, take a break and try again in a few days. Maybe your baby is too young and doesn’t have the ability or, maybe you’re rushing in too soon to comfort.