When you know the how to of putting your baby to sleep, you will be in a better position to sleep train your baby by fostering excellent sleep habits in him or her. This will also give you a chance to get some well-deserved rest. A baby who sleeps well is a more engaging, tolerant, and patient baby after a good quality nap or night’s rest. New parents usually have a hard time trying to get their newborns to sleep through the night or even fall asleep at all.
My son is currently 18 months old at this time and poor baby, he has always had a tough time when it comes to settling down and going to sleep. My sons erratic sleep patterns is what has inspired me to create this website in the first place and I have learned SO MUCH so far! Right now he is going through his 18th month sleep regression and I just can’t wait for it to be over!
Sometimes, as a tired desperate mom, sometimes I do things I know that I shouldn’t, just to get my 18 month old back to sleep quickly. So then I can go back to sleep. So that we can both have a quick win-win situation. What do I do? Well, I am guilty of bringing my son in bed with me, in the middle of the night, which is TOTALLY not fair to neither of us. Mostly because I sleep in a small twin bed, so its literally me teetering off the edge. My son has his own bed, and we share a room, so its pretty hard for me to ignore him when he decides to stand up in bed and call for me, EVER so loudly…. so, I kind of promised myself I would let him sleep in his own bed, I sleep in mine, we can share the room and our beds both fit, we should BOTH be happy, right? No. He still wants to sleep bedsides me. Even though I compromised my bed space so he could share this room with me and be in the same room as mommy. I mean, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I had a big house with many rooms I would still want my son in my bedroom with me. But…. in the same bed? Mm, no not so much. Just because he wiggles and moves around so much in his sleep and I
am such a light sleeper.
Sometimes, I will even get up out of bed, go to the kitchen and pour some milk in a bottle and give it to my son, in the middle of the night. That is a BIG no no! Because only babies under 6 months still drink milk / require milk at night because they need to eat around the clock. By now my son should not only be weaned off the bottle, he should most definitely be weaned from night “feedings”!!! But here I am, pacifying him and not really doing a good thing by promoting him drinking a bottle in the middle of the night, again and again. I try to do this so seldom, but during the night I have two choices to pacify my screaming, awake child…. and sometimes I cave in and make a bottle…. So sue me!
… just because I want to go back to sleep myself!
As a single mom, I am the only person responsible for putting my son to sleep. Every night. I do not have to be “on the same page” with a partner, although if I had a partner I think things would be a little easier with regard to “taking turns” putting the baby to bed. I do not have to report to another person if I decide one night I want to bring my son in bed with me, or if I am caving in and allowing my son to drink a bottle in the middle of the night ( even if I made a pact not to do that anymore ) – I can break the rules I set for my sons bedtime and switch things up at night to suit whatever is going on for me that evening. Although I have to admit that my inconsistency has led to it being much more difficult to get my toddler to sleep easy. However, I have tried many tricks and below is what has worked best for me:
Babies usually have a startle reflex from birth to about 5 months. This startle reflex usually makes them feel like they are falling. This falling sensation will result in jerking movements that will make the baby wake up. This is why swaddling the baby tightly helps to keep him or her from being startled awake, not to mention it helps the baby sleep longer and better. Keep in mind that your baby also spent 9 months in the fetal position so they are much more comfortable with their arms & legs bonded.
This involves feeding the baby right before you turn in for the night to prevent your baby from waking up hungry a few hours later. So even though they are already asleep, it is a good idea to rouse your baby gently around 11pm and sneak in one more feeding before you retire to bed. Research shows that sneaking in a feeding between 10 p.m and midnight reduces the chance of night-wakings among babies 3 to 6 months. Dreamfeeding can be very helpful in making your baby sleep longer while you do the same.
It might seem counter intuitive to wake your baby from sleep but actually, when the baby sleeps for too long during daytime, then sleeping at night might be a problem. It is advisable to wake your baby after she sleeps for 2 hours to feed, keep her awake for some time, and then put her down to nap again. Should you feel your baby needs to nap for longer, you can increase nap time to two and a half hours. Interrupting your baby’s sleep during daytime will help him/her sleep better during the night.
It can be difficult for your little one to get to sleep and stay asleep if he can hear everything happening in the house. Take advantage of white noise in the baby’s room by putting a fan on the medium setting in the baby’s room and not next to the baby directly. You can also use a white noise machine. White noise is quite helpful in putting the baby to sleep particularly when you are traveling.
His cycle involves the baby waking up, eating immediately, staying awake to play for some time, and then going back to sleep. The cycle serves to promote full feedings by enabling the baby to eat after she wakes up immediately. The baby also has more energy after waking up so he will be more willing to go longer before feeding again and to take full feedings. Feeding the baby after he/she sleeps instead of before, keeps the baby from correlating sleep with food.
Babies are known to flourish on predictability, structure, and routine. If you want your baby to generate order in a chaotic world, you need to generate a consistent routine for her. A routine before any nap can include taking baby to her room, putting her in a wearable blanket or a sleep sack, putting on some white noise, singing a lullaby, cuddling her a bit, and saying some sleepy words. The bedtime routine may be lengthier and consist of a massage, a bath, story time, a feeding, swaddling the baby or putting her in a wearable blanket, switching on the white noise machine, cuddling her, and saying sleepy words to her. If you follow the same routine consistently, this cues your little one to prepare to fall asleep thus with time she learns that sleep follows both routines.
If you change the baby’s diaper right before giving him a night feeding, this keeps him from awaking too much after the feeding. When he wakes up, make sure you change the baby’s diaper and swaddle him again immediately after a night feeding to help him prepare for sleep. Changing the baby’s diaper after feeding him may make him too alert and thus it will be harder to go back to sleep. It will be very frustrating to find out that you have woken your baby up while changing her diaper instead of just leaving her alone to sleep peacefully. If you have good quality nighttime diapers, the gel inside the diaper will keep moisture away from your baby’s skin. So unless there is poop, save yourself the trouble and leave the diaper on until morning.
Most parents think that keeping the baby awake for longer will tire him/her out so the baby will sleep more and the opposite is actually true. This will end up over-stimulating your baby making it harder for her to go to sleep and stay asleep. Overtired babies rarely sleep longer. To be clear, it is important to restrict nap-lengths in order to encourage nighttime sleep. Ensure you feed the baby as much as you can during the day so you so not have to do as many nighttime feedings. You should not keep your baby awake for too long because she will have trouble going to sleep in addition to being fussy or overtired.
These tips will be very helpful in helping your baby develop healthy sleep habits. Babies are considered officially ready for sleep training once they get to four months of age. At this juncture, your baby will be able to sleep for longer and will be more responsive to sleep training techniques such as Ferber sleep training, babywise sleep training, and extinction sleep training. These are just a few of the many sleep training methods available and I will cover them all soon so you know which direction to take when the time to sleep train your baby reaches.
After sleep training your baby, you will have a few peaceful weeks before he or she starts waking you up in the middle of the night again. This is called sleep regression and it is completely normal especially when your baby is going through significant developmental milestones including a new sibling, illness, travel, or routine changes. Sleep regression can happen at around 4 or 9 months when sleep patterns change or separation anxiety kicks in. You can get through this hiccup by going back to the basics. Establish a consistent and predictable daytime routine that you stick to and a soothing evening bedtime routine. You can try another sleep training approach for a week and reexamine your approach if there are no changes.
My son’s 18th month regression is no picnic I tell you. My son sleeps in the same room as I do but in his own bed. At 1am he will wake up, stand up and rattle his bed back & forth to get my attention. I try my best to stay still and quiet and not let him know I am awake, hoping that he will soothe himself and go to sleep. But once he is up, that is it. He will start crying, and then yelling and he won’t stop until I get up and do something about it. What he wants me to do is bring him in bed with me, but instead I put my earphones in my ears and cover my head with a blanket. Sometimes he gives up trying to get me out of bed and goes back to sleep as if nothing happened. If he doesn’t let up and continues to holler, I will get up and make a bottle for him which usually pacifies him until he falls back asleep. I am not saying this is the right thing to do, but after a year and half on inconsistent sleep, this is how I am dealing with it.
You are probably getting to know your baby’s sleep needs not to mention his/her rhythms and patterns, which are constantly changing. The dos and don’ts, blogs, and books on sleep may overwhelm you for your baby. When it comes down to it, you will be doing what I am; a little bit of EVERYTHING, white noise, swaddling, singing, etc… there isn’t one magic answer of the How To Of Putting Baby To Sleep, it is a holistic, all around approach because sleep with babies is a learned skill. Hopefully, this list of how to tips that will help you get your baby to sleep will allow both you and your little one to get some rest and develop healthy sleep habits that work for both of you.