When my sister had a baby I saw first hand how tough the first six months can be. It’s a never ending cycle of feeding, sleeping and crying, with a full night’s sleep a distant memory. You might be lucky and have a baby that sleeps for long periods and is able to sooth themselves back to sleep. But for many parents wondering how to get their baby’s to sleep through the night is challenge that can last the first nine months.
The problem is that if your baby isn’t sleeping you aren’t either. This can lead to you feeling tired and irritable the next day, and it can even make you prone to bouts of depression. So if you’re a new parent, it’s wise to have some strategies for helping your baby to get to sleep so you can get more sleep of your own and increase the enjoyment you gain from being a new parent.
Here are ten easy ways to train in your baby in good sleeping habits so they can sleep through the night:
1. Get the baby used to a small amount of noise. You shouldn’t immediately feel you have to stop watching TV downstairs or getting on with chores in case you disturb their sleep. If they get too used to absolute silence then they are more likely to wake.
2. At night keep the lights around the house low and your voices quieter than during the daytime. This will signal to the baby that it’s now the nighttime and time to sleep.
3. Establish a bedtime routine. This could include having a baby, changing them into their nigh clothes and having a feed and cuddle before they are put to bed. This will help the baby to relax physically and mentally so they can go to sleep for longer.
4. Get baby’s used to falling asleep on their own. Holding your baby until they fall asleep may be comforting but it means they might struggle to go to sleep if they get too used to it. When they appear to be tired and sleepy rest them on their backs so they can drift off to the land of nod on their own.
5. Avoid too much excitement or stimulation at bed time. Instead begin the process of winding down and relaxing the baby.Make the daytime feeds feel more social and lively and the nighttime quiet and calm.
6. If formula feeding then take it in turns with your partner to share the early hour feeds. Alternately ask them to look after the baby’s early morning changing so you can grab a couple more minutes of sleep.
7. Give the baby a security item that carries your scent, such as a blanket or soft toy. Before the baby is born sleep with the blanket or toy to give it your scent, or if you’re breast feeding express a small amount of breast milk into a small piece of muslin. Baby’s are very sensitive to smells and the familiar aroma will calm them if they feel unsettled in the night.
8. After four months you could try leaving your baby to ‘cry it out’. Rather than give them the sudden shock of not coming when they start to cry, try leaving them for set intervals. You could start by leaving the room and waiting for two minutes before going back in to check up on them and then gradually increase it a few minutes at a time. Repeat until they fall asleep, remembering to increase the length of intervals each time.
9. When cuddling an unsettled baby try pretending to go to sleep yourself. This will let them know that fun time is over and its time to go to sleep.
10. If the baby is teething then try massaging their gums with your finger or a teaspoon cooled in the fridge.
Hopefully these strategies should help both you and your baby to get more hours of healthy sleep every night. But if all else fails then you could try identifying whether there is an underlying cause to your baby’s irritibility. If they’ve been fed and changed, maybe changing their clothes might help or maybe they have a cold.
You might also find these articles useful for further advice on how to get your baby to sleep through the night: