As a new parent, you start to realize just how important a good night’s sleep is. When your little one doesn’t get good sleep, you’ll both wake up grumpy in the morning. Luckily there are a few easy things that you can do to help your baby sleep through the entire night (so you can too).
Dreamfeeding is feeding your baby right before you put them to sleep for the night. You don’t want to feed him too much, as that could upset his stomach. Feed your baby just enough and it will keep him from waking up during the night (at least reduce the number of times they do). You can do this until the baby is around 4 months old.
2. Limit Daytime Naps
Babies tend to sleep a lot, but too much daytime sleeping can interrupt their nighttime sleeping schedule. If your baby is asleep for longer than two hours, it’s usually a good idea to wake them up. They may be a little grumpy about it, but it is better that they get the grumpiness out in the daytime, rather than in the middle of the night. After you wake him, feed him, keep him up for a while, and then lay him down for another nap. If you really feel that the baby needs longer nap times, you can let him sleep for two and a half hours. Sometimes your baby may be overtired, in which case it’s totally fine to let him nap for longer and recover. Once he regains his energy, you can put him back on his regular sleeping schedule.
From birth to around 5 months old, babies exhibit something called a startle reflex. Oftentimes when babies are dreaming, they feel the sensation of falling, which causes their arms and legs to flail around. They can easily startle themselves awake when this happens. You can prevent them from waking up by swaddling them. Not only will wrapping them snuggly keep them from squirming around, it also comforts them as it mimics the sensation of being caressed in the womb.
4. White Nose
When babies hear a lot of action going on outside, they can get a little bit antsy. Placing a source of white noise in their room is an easy-as-pie way to relax their minds and keep them from getting restless. You can try placing a fan in their room that is located far enough away from their crib that it won’t blow directly on their face. If the fan isn’t loud enough, you can get a white noise machine.
5. Don’t Rush It
When babies wake up in the middle of the night, they will often just babble a bit and settle themselves right back to sleep. When you rush into to check on them at the very first sound of crying, you could wake them up more than they already were. Wait a couple of minutes first to see if they will settle themselves down, and if the crying continues, you can go check on him and lull him back to sleep.
6. Put Your Baby to Sleep When He is Awake, but Sleepy
Teaching your baby how to fall asleep on their own is a critical step. If you only put your baby to sleep after they have already fallen asleep in your arms or in the car, they won’t learn how to fall asleep on their own for a while. Laying your baby in his crib while he’s still awake will help him to learn how to fall asleep on his own faster.
7. Use Bedtime Routines
Babies thrive on routine and structure. A consistent bedtime schedule will bring order into a world that seems chaotic. Every night when you take him to bed, swaddle him, close the curtains, and maybe sing him a lullaby. This routine will solidify in his mind that when those things happen, it’s time to sleep. This will help the baby with feelings of restlessness, and will ultimately help him get a better night’s sleep.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.