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. Two things. First, every baby is different. My older daughter absolutely WOULD NOT go down in her crib until she was out cold. None of this putting her down when she was drowsy stuff – she wouldn’t have it. I tried everything, but, no, I had to rock her to sleep. My younger one was just the opposite – she wouldn’t go to sleep if you held her. You had to put her down drowsy or she’d stay up all night. Again, every kid is different. Incidentally, both kids got to be very good sleepers by about two months and we’ve had no sleep issues since – they’re now 8 and 10.

    Second, telling people to wait “minutes” when a baby cries at night is ludicrous. Do you know how long a minute is when a baby is crying? Absolutely, you should wait a few *seconds*, but you can certainly tell long before a minute is up whether or not this is a real wake-up or just fussing in their sleep. Anyone who doubts me, I dare you to time yourself and see how long you can last. I guarantee you’ll be surprised.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.