When you have a newborn child to take care of, your 24-hour schedule depends on your child’s 24-hour schedule. A sound sleep sounds like a myth and you’ll find yourself constantly waking up to the loud, vibrating alarm of your newborn’s cries.
However, ensuring that your baby sleeps all night is quite a challenge. According to clinical social worker Jennifer Waldburger, coauthor of The Sleep-Easy Solution, "After 4 months, a baby's natural preference is to sleep."He just doesn't always know how to stay asleep but even bad habits are usually fixable in just a few days."
Considering the fact that you can never hit the snooze button on your crying baby, here are 5 ways to help your baby sleep through the night.
Associate your newborn’s sleep with white noise sounds: In simple terms, white noise is a special type of sound signal which is used to mask background sounds. A white noise sound helps your baby sleep better. When putting your baby to sleep at night, gently turn on the fan, use www.rainymood.com to generate mild rain sounds, etc. Over time, your baby will be classically conditioned to associate these sounds with his bedtime hours and will take it upon himself to relax and sleep accordingly.
Follow a consistent early bedtime routine: Newborn babies like to be uniform and organized. They want to be breastfed at particular intervals, put to sleep at certain hours and be held and cuddled at most moments. Therefore, it is ideal that you put your baby to sleep early at night and stick to that schedule for good. How early you want to put your baby to sleep depends on your daily chores but any time between 7. 30 pm to 9 pm is just about right. Try and minimize your baby’s evening naps as they will affect his night time sleep and increase the chances of him waking up in the middle of the night. Once your newborn is aware of what’s coming at what time, he will be accustomed to sleeping and waking up at a fixed time without any mid-night interruptions.
Stop the midnight meals: Up to 6 months, it is necessary for a mother to feed the baby at regular intervals throughout the night but after 6 months, with the guidance of your pediatrician, you can slowly reduce the night feedings. According to Kim West, author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies, “90 percent of 6-month-olds can sleep through the night without snacking.” In the absence of mid-night snacking, your newborn might cry for a couple of nights but once it realizes that it’s no more an option, he will get used it and won’t let it come in the way of his bedtime.
Put a ‘happy baby’ to bed: Before you put your baby to bed, ensure that he is well fed, has clean diapers on along with comfy pajamas or a onesie. Also, ensure that the room is set to the right temperature, the bed sheets are properly dusted, the pillows are set at a proper angle, the mosquito repellent machine is on and all those other things. Even the tiniest of disturbances can come in the way of your baby’s good night sleep.
Know your baby’s sleep schedule: Follow this first-year guide to your baby's nighttime zzz's to find out how many hours of p.m. sleep she needs at every age.
(Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Parents magazine.)
1 week old: 8 hours.Babies can sleep 16 to 18 hours a day. Half is at night.
6 weeks: 8.5 hours. Nighttime sleep finally begins to solidify.
3 months: 9 hours. You'll see a hint of a schedule. Move bedtime up.
6 months: 10 hours. Now is the best time to sleep-train your little one.
9 months: 11 hours. If she needs it, reteach your baby how to go to sleep.
12 months: 12 hours. Still not sleeping? Ask your pediatrician for advice.
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