Whenever you watch movies or series where a parent just had a newborn in the house, it usually involves scenes of the baby crying at night. For the first 6 months of the baby’s life, they will be waking up at night for more food and they cry to signal mom or dad that they need milk.
This is very common for babies to do as they are adjusting to life outside the womb. It will take time for babies to sleep through the night or settle in by themselves- that will only come later as they grow. Sometimes, some babies can take more than six months because it depends on their developmental readiness.
That said, there are things that you can do to help your baby sleep better and settle into a sleeping schedule. These should be done at the start of their first six months as it sets the foundation for them to settle on their own.
Keep in mind that every baby is different and their response will be different too. As a parent, you need to be flexible and remember to take it easy on yourself too. If your baby is not responding the way parenting books say, you need to be mindful to know that every baby develops differently. So giving yourself and your baby time is the best way forward.
For the early months
For the first few months of your baby’s life, here is what you can do to help them get a good night's sleep.
- Make it clear between daytime and nighttime.
As your baby’s eyes adjust to light and color, helping them ease into these differences is essential. They will not know the difference between day and night. This is why it's common for them to be wide awake at night and sleepy during the day. To help them get used to the idea of the time difference, here’s what you can do:
- Keep the room dark or dimly light and quiet during the night
- When you need to attend to your baby during the night, keep the lights dim. Try not to turn on bright lights.
- During the night, respond to your baby’s cries quickly and settle them as soon as you can.
- Do night feeds and daytime feeds differently. At night, keep feeding brief and, during the day, you can keep it long.
- Be soothing and quiet during the night and keep playtime during the day.
- Putting your baby to bed while they are drowsy but still awake
This technique gives your baby the chance to associate falling asleep in their crib. A comfortable crib with https://www.lewisishome.com/collections/crib-sheets will help sleep association, helping your baby more likely to self-soothe when they wake up in their crib at night.
Sleep soothing is when your baby can relax, and calm down on their own, eventually falling back to sleep again. Babies who can self-soothe and sleep for longer periods will also experience a longer sleep time during the night.
For babies who often experience the sensation of rocking or feeding while falling asleep, they may want the same sensation when they wake up at night. This does not mean that you shouldn’t rock or feed your baby to sleep. It’s perfectly fine if this suits your baby’s needs and you.
To help your baby settle in bed while drowsy, here’s what you can do:
- Give them time to settle into their crib. The sensation of a soft bed with their sheets will be a reminder for them that it's their place to sleep. Try not to pick them immediately, rather, give them a minute or two to settle in. If they start crying, then they need comforting.
- As your baby grows, give them time to settle in at night if they wake up and start to grizzle. If it goes on longer or if you feel you need to attend to them quickly, then, by all means, help them resettle. When your baby starts to cry, they are definitely in need of resettling.
- Use the patting down and settling technique to pat your baby till they calm down. When you notice them falling asleep, slow down on the patting.
- Creating a sleeping routine for them
Sleep routines are crucial for the growing baby. It will help them ease into the different hours of the day and also provide a sense of comfort and normalcy. Sleep routines should be introduced when you feel it's the right time for your baby and you. You can begin to create a sleep routine that involves a similar pattern or order each day. This routine includes bathing time, sleeping time, feeding time, and playtime. Creating a sleep routine for your baby will help them get acquainted with a regular sleeping pattern.
Sleep routines during the day and night should differ. When your baby wakes up during the day, you might want to start with a feed or change the baby’s nappy. You can also have some cuddle time or talk with them or even have some playtime. When your baby shows signs of getting tired, it’s your cue to place them back down in their crib for sleep.
At night, feeding or cuddling activity may be limited as you want to focus on settling your baby straight back to sleep. Choose not to include any playtime either.
With a newborn, flexibility is key for both you and the baby. As much you’d like to go by the book in childcare, babies are human beings and they come with a host of behaviors and needs that are unpredictable. Different babies also require different needs and care which will influence their sleeping and feeding times.
That said, preparing the necessary steps to help newborns ease into their daily schedule is beneficial for both parent and baby. As the child gets older, they will be comfortable with the adjustments around them. Plus, you’ll also be preparing a safe and comfortable environment for them where they feel protected.