5 Tips to Help Your Baby Fall Asleep
Getting sleep with a baby isn't easy, and months of sleep deprivation can really wear you down. That's an accurate way to describe what is going on when you can't get your baby to fall asleep and he is not really sleeping for large chunks of time. His sleeping patterns will get better, though, once he's older and more mature. Until then you can work on ways to help him get the best sleep he can–and we can.
I prefer to help aid sleep in more gentle ways and don't opt to do any of the “sleep training” methods I've read about. I know that, eventually, baby will learn how to sleep for long stretches, and until then, we work with what works. If you're looking for ways to help your baby fall asleep, here are some tips on what worked for us.
Find out where baby sleeps best
Some babies sleep better in a bed on their own, while others prefer the comfort of their mom's arms while they sleep. Be flexible and try different sleep situations to see where your baby seems to settle best and work with that.
Develop a routine + be consistent
If your baby can predict his bedtime, he is more likely to settle earlier, and that's where a routine can come in handy. It doesn't really matter what the routine is, but having a consistent one you do each night will work wonders. As to what we did: We ate dinner with Silver now sitting up in a food chair. Then it was bath time, and we laid in our room with the lights dimmed and his music playing while he nursed to sleep. This routine is one we started when he was just little, and while we were not the most strict with it (it would be better of us if we were), he understood when it was bedtime because of the routine.
Change your expectations
If you're hoping your infant is going to sleep for hours and hours at night like you do, you're going to be disappointed. According to Dr. Sears, “In the first three months, tiny babies seldom sleep for more than four-hour stretches without needing a feeding.” He goes on to say that when babies are between 3 and 6 months old, they start to stay up during the day longer, and some can sleep for about five-hour stretches at night, but to still expect your 6-month-old (and up) to wake at least a few times at night.
Set predictable naps
The more restful your baby is during the day, the more restful they'll be at night–at least that's been my experience. It took a while for my youngest to develop a sleep routine during the day for naps, but once he did, his times of rest were consistent. He liked to nap around 10 in the morning and again at 2 in the afternoon, so even if he didn't act tired, we put him down for his nap. Doing so helped him have a calmer day, which aided his sleep at night.
Enlist the help of white noise
I love sleeping with a fan on, even in the winter, because the noise of the fan just helps me relax. The same thing is true for my older kids, because since they were very little, they've been sleeping with the white noise of a fan. When my little one was still in that infant phase where every small noise woke him up, even someone flushing the toilet in the bathroom one room over. I started using a fan, and its noise to help muffle some walking sounds, and it helped him ease into sleep. Not only that, but I also enlisted the help of lullabies, so when he woke in the middle of the night and heard it, he was more likely to drift back into peaceful sleep.
What are your tricks for encouraging better sleep?