It’s on every new parent’s wish list – more sleep! Sleep deprivation is probably the most common thing among new parents. According to research, parents lose around 50 hours of sleep in the first year of their child’s life! If you are one of them, you may be desperate to know how to get your baby to sleep? I know I was.
But here’s the bad news – very young babies probably won’t be able to sleep through the night for quite some time. That’s because their tiny tummies digest food very quickly, which means they need to feed more often and they will wake up during the night to do so. Still, there are some things you can do to help your baby get the hang of sleep once they don’t need to be fed that often.
While sleep is a learned behaviour (it’s something that you need to teach your child), there are some sleep aids that can help babies through different stages of their growth and development. Sleep aids can come in the form of soothing sounds that imitate the effect of the mum’s heartbeat in the womb, cosy night lights, or super comfy pods for the baby to feel safe and secure in. Here are a few sleep aids and techniques you can use to help your child during the different stages of the growing process.
Newborns Up to 6 Months Old
Newborns don’t have a sleep pattern and are unable to soothe themselves. Plus, they tend to sleep the majority of the time, night and day. For this reason, experts don’t recommend sleep coaching until your child has achieved a more normalised sleep pattern, which usually happens around 6 months.
Instead, you should encourage your baby to sleep when he/she show signs of tiredness, and when this happens, you can use a sleep aid babies find soothing.
Swaddling is an effective soothing method used for ages. However, if you chose to use this method, you need to make sure you use the right technique, which includes the aid of a blanket swaddle. With this infant sleep aid, babies feel like they are still in the womb, which helps soothe them. Swaddling also helps prevent babies from flailing their arms and legs, which can trigger their startle reflex and potentially cause them to wake up.
Just like a massage is relaxing for you, it is for your baby too. Massaging can help your baby calm down, relax and prepare for sleep. This form of physical touch is also a great way to connect with your baby. Check out some of the techniques for giving your baby a massage.
A Soothing Bedtime Routine
This is one of the best ways to settle the stage for sleep. Children of all ages are all about routine. Knowing what comes next is calming and can help to set the stage for sleep. Some items you may want to include in your night routine include bath, bamboo pajamas, feeding, cuddles, story or a quiet lullaby.
6 to 12 Months Old
During this developmental period, babies start to roll over, crawl and even walk. Teething also happens at this stage. All these changes also make this period a surprisingly common time for babies to experience a sleep regression. A soothing bed routine can still be tremendously helpful at this developmental period, and this can also be a great time to add a comforter to your baby’s sleep aids.
The idea behind introducing a comforter is to help give your baby a constant during sleep times when you’re not immediately available. A comforter is sure not a replacement for mum, but an extension of your love and caring.
The great thing about a comforter is that it can really be anything. It can be a stuffed animal, a small blanket, a doll… as long as it’s safe, which means no bottom eyes or removable parts that could present choking hazards. You can help your baby to take to the comforter by keeping it close to you during feedings, cuddle and storytimes, and giving it some personally during the day. Many parents find that incorporating the comforter into the bedtime routine helps.
12 to 24 Months Old
Toddlers tend to drop to a single nap during the day, and many children transition to a “big” bed during this time. These changes can be a big deal to your little one, and their established bedtime routine, comforter and relaxation can help to encourage positive sleep habits. Other things you can do to help encourage them to continue with their good sleep habits are:
A White Noise Machine
The purpose of a white noise machine is to simply create a barrier between the noise going on in the house or outside to help your baby sleep. Look for a device that easy to operate and offer helpful features, like a timer so that you can set the device to turn on at bedtime and off in the morning.
A Night Light
Many toddlers start to experience nightmares around 2 years and this can be very troubling for both the child and the parent. Some parents find that a night light helps to remind the toddler that the “monsters” aren’t there and provide additional security.