New born babies are sleepy babies. Trust your new born to sleep for at least 18 hours a day. Of course, the sleep will not be at a stretch. Most babies sleep for 3-4 hours at a stretch and wake up only when they are hungry or need some stimulation.
This means that there will be sleepless nights for the parents especially in the first three months of the child’s life. It can be draining to have a cranky baby who refuses to fall asleep or is too tired to do so. Here are some things, which parents can implement in order to help their baby to sleep.
Sleeping Tips for Babies
Recognize Signs of Tiredness
A tired baby is a sleepy baby. Do not wait for him/her to start bawling before you put him/her down. Watch out for the signs that show he/she is tired like flicking of the ears, dark rings, staring blankly or nuzzling into your chest. This essentially means that he/she is tired and needs some quality shut eye. Gently rock the baby and put him/her down in his/her cot. Sing some soft lullabies, which will put your baby to sleep.
Feed the Baby Well
The first few weeks will put tremendous pressure on your tired and achy breasts. Your baby will be extra hungry and particularly demanding. If the baby is not well fed at each feed, he/she will not get good sleep and will wake up within an hour, asking for another feed. Ensure you feed the baby for at least 20-30 minutes from both the breasts. A good indication of this will be the way your breasts feel after every feed. They will feel emptier after every feed. A well-fed baby is a happy baby who sleeps well.
Reduce Nighttime Feedings
In the first 2-3 weeks, your baby will be getting up frequently at night for feeds. This only means lesser sleep for you and the baby.
In order to prevent this, make sure you start reducing his/her nighttime feedings. Increase the gap between feeds by half an hour each day. This will allow more sleep for both you and the baby.
Teach him/her to Differentiate Between Night and Day
One reason why new borns stay up at night is that they have not learnt to differentiate between night and day. While this happens on its own within due course, it can be particularly demanding on the new parents as it leads to acute sleep deprivation. The best way to prevent this is to teach the baby to differentiate between night and day.
This can be done by changing the baby’s clothes as soon as he/she gets up, giving him/her a bath, playing with him/her for extended periods of time, chatting and singing to him/her. This allows the child to stay awake longer during the day and sleep better at night.
Keep the House Bright During the Day
Keeping the house nice and bright during the day will also help the baby to stay awake and alert during the day. This should help to regularize his/her sleep cycle. At night keep the lights dim, the noises low and do not talk to the baby too much. Change the baby into his/her night suit that will help him/her to identify nighttime.
Swaddle the Baby
Swaddling a newborn is essential as it mimics the uterine environment of the baby. The baby feels snug, cosy and comfortable when he/she is well swaddled. Make sure your baby is well swaddled before he/she sleeps.
Change his/her Nappy
Make sure you change the baby’s nappy before he/she settles down for a nap. A wet baby will wake up and be unusually cranky. Change the baby after every feed to ensure that he/she sleeps well.
Burp the Baby
Sometimes colic can get in the way of a newborn baby and his/her sleep. It is very important to burp the baby after every feed to ensure that there is no formation of gas in the stomach. Always feed the baby in an upright position so that the baby does not swallow air while suckling.
Teach the Baby to Sleep on Its Own
Continuously rocking the baby will make the baby habituated to the rocking motion. This will become painful for you as the baby will never learn to sleep on his/her own. Put the baby down in his/her cot and gently pat him/her to sleep without picking up. Be by his/her side so that he/she knows that you are there. If the baby continuously cries, let him/her do so. Eventually the baby will tire of it and sleep off on its own.
Try Supplementing with Formula
While exclusive breast-feeding is recommended for the first few months, some parents may find that supplementing the baby with formula helpful especially if the baby is to sleep well at night. This will ensure that the baby sleeps for at least 4-6 hours at a stretch.
Soothe the Baby
A cranky baby can be easily soothed by nursing. Let your baby derive some comfort or solace from your breasts.
This will make him/her feel secure and allow him/her to sleep better. Sometimes some gentle comforting is needed to put a new born to sleep.
Cuddle and Love the Baby
Babies who are cuddled, loved and hugged especially by their mothers are happy and secure babies and sleep better than babies who are left to fend for themselves. That is why it is important for mothers to spend the first few months with their babies.
A Different Set of Arms
A baby who has been crying for hours and refuses to sleep can be handed over to someone else who does a much better job. A different set of arms, a different rocking motion and a different position can help put a cranky and irritable baby to sleep. These tips will go a long way to ensure that your baby gets quality sleep at night. The tips are practiced by parents the world over and are very high on their efficacy rates.