The best ways to get babies to sleep

The best ways to get babies to sleep

As a new parent, getting your baby to sleep is a challenge and most likely results in keeping you awake.

Experts note that babies need a lot more sleep than adults because the resting time is vital for their growth and development. In fact, by the time children are two years old, they will have spent more time asleep than awake, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Dr. Dakisha Lewis, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, provides the following tips to help getting your baby to sleep easier:

Put your baby down when they’re drowsy, not sleeping

Although it takes practice, putting your baby down before he or she is actually asleep pays off. Over time, this teaches your baby to soothe itself to sleep, making bedtime easier with each day.

This also helps to prevent your baby from becoming too dependent on you at bedtime. “I have also found that newborns are comfortable when they are swaddled and wrapped up,” says Dr. Lewis. “It makes them feel comfortable and cozy.”

“I have seen this work myself as a mother. When they are drowsy, it is important to get them into a routine,” says Dr. Lewis. “You also have to make sure babies have a consistent space to sleep so they can get used to it.”

Lullabies can prove a useful tool

Singing a lullaby or reading a story before bedtime is a great way to start a habit that lets your baby know that it’s time to rest. However, this routine can’t be done every time the child wakes up through the night, or they may develop a sleep onset association disorder, a situation in which a child will only go to sleep after the trigger they associate with bedtime occurs.

Pay close attention to lighting

Light regulates the body’s sleep cycle by controlling how much melatonin is produced. In the dark, more melatonin is produced, inducing sleepiness.

Manipulating lighting can be used to your advantage leading up to baby’s bedtime; lower the lights the baby is exposed to close to bedtime, which tells his or her body that it’s time for bed. If your baby wakes up in the night, don’t turn on the lights or bring them into a well-lit room, or their body will think it is morning.

Don’t jump at every noise

Just because you hear something on the baby monitor doesn’t mean you should rush in and pick your child up. Wait a few minutes to give the baby time to go back to sleep on their own. If they don’t, only then should you go and help them back to sleep.

No method is perfect, and there will always be times when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and you struggle to get them to fall back asleep. This is a perfectly normal part of their development.

“Because every child is different, it is important for new mothers to find a rhythm that works for them,” adds Dr. Lewis. “You are not necessarily supposed to do what every other mother did because that might not work for your child.”

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One Comment

  1. As you note, every baby is different and there is no cure-all for getting babies to sleep. My older daughter had to be held and rocked all the way to sleep. Believe me, I tried the drowsy thing – she’d wake right back up as soon as you put her down. I tried everything, but bottom line was that rocking her was the fastest way to get her down. My younger daughter was the exact opposite (although it took me a while to catch on). She didn’t want to be held as she was trying to fall asleep – the drowsy thing worked well for her.

    Also, when you say wait a few *minutes* when your baby is crying, I’m not sure you understand how long minutes are, especially when a baby is crying. My doctor suggested that if you’re thinking of doing the cry it out thing, set a timer for 5 minutes. If you can’t even take it that long, you’re not ready to even think of trying to let the baby cry it out. I didn’t make it to 1 minute – he said parents, especially mothers, rarely do. Yes, don’t rush in for every noise on the baby monitor, but generally 15-30 seconds is plenty to tell if the baby will settle back down or not.

    And, incidentally, babies haven’t been referred to as “it” since the 1980s.

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About the Author

Matthew Bradley
Matthew Bradley

Matthew Bradley, is an intern with public affairs and marketing at Advocate Trinity Hospital. He is finishing his bachelor’s degree in health administration at Governor’s State University. Matthew lives in the south suburbs and is passionate about music and health care.

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