Getting baby to sleep

Before we embark upon this very interesting article we want to state from the outset that there is no magic formula to get your infant to sleep throughout the night. Every baby is different and their sleep patterns will vary. What is consistent in all infants the needs for comfort, trust and a soothing environment.

If you are concerned about your baby’s sleeping habits, do not hesitate to check with your pediatrician. They are best able to advise on your individual baby’s needs and requirements. Once you have cleared this part we will outline to you our strategies to learn from your baby and then define a routine that best suits them. Your schedule will have to be adjusted around this, remember, you are not the baby here.

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Observe: Whatever the age of your infant, as a parent whether new or not, learn your child’s habits fully. Observe them as they fall asleep. For example, see if they like to feel a presence near to them, a warm body or perhaps a baby pillow. There is nothing to compare with that paternal instinct we all have to note what will help our baby’s sleep and comfort.

Open a baby journal and jot down some facts. For example how many times your baby wanted feeding during the night; nappy changes; times of eating and so on. Do this on a sample basis and compare week to week to see if you see a pattern that you can work with. There is absolutely a science to everything and baby care is no different and here is an additional tidbit, that journal will (and we say “will”) become one of your fondest treasures one day;

Toys and Sounds: While we have no issue with a favourite toy or blanket, we do see the guarantees of these various inventions that have rhythmic breathing sounds, ticking, humming, insisting they are your answer to get your child to sleep through the night.

Honestly we have one recommendation – you. Especially in baby’s first few months, it is a natural inclination of human beings to want to feel protected and comforted.

Have your baby with you or at least in the same room setting up the crib next to you. Ensure that baby sees you soon when he/she awakens and you gently sooth them back to sleep.

As they get older and you wish to wean them off this method or habit, the level of trust you would have built as a foundation will enhance this as baby will always know (and believe) you are nearby and will be there for them always.

There are some schools of thought (and we are one of them) that firmly believe that this close bond between parent and child at this age will lead to a lifetime relationship between you and your child;

Learn specific actions and behaviors: You will learn through observation that your baby will be coaxed to sleep through various methods, some more effective than others. Determine for example if your baby is more comforted to sleep:

  • By you walking around the room and singing to him/her;
  • A nice rocking chair with baby over your shoulder until they drift off;
  • An evening walk in the stroller as they drift off to sleep;
  • A nice warm bottle before effortlessly falling asleep.

Whatever the method, the key is to learn what you have done so you can repeat it at the same time every night to develop a routine for your baby. We are all creatures of habit and rest assured, when baby finds themselves slung over a shoulder (using one of the above examples) at a certain hour every day, they will know it’s time to drift off. But remember, this is not a one-way street; you must experiment with different methods and then adapt the most effective of these.

Don’t be surprised or dismayed if you have to tweak your methods to cater for changing behaviors. Your baby may get tired of the same routine after a while. Develop a new strategy but try to maintain the same hours of that routine.

Create the ambiance: We all like to catch the evening news, prime time television or our favourite countdown on the radio when we are at home. However with baby there will have to be some amendments to your requirements for relaxation in order to ensure their comfort.

Especially for young infants we do not feel a television is appropriate when they are in the room. This is a topic that has been debated but we feel no need to argue the pros and cons here. Once baby is in the room, take the television off. We are old school believers of developing sensory skills, eyesight and so on and these are tried and tested methods.

Your baby should primarily be hearing their parents or siblings voices more than the newscaster or latest popular music idol. Be sensitive to the fact that this human being just got here and is trying to formulate their skills and associations with things that will guide them through life. Thus when baby is around, low the radio to a minimum if it has to stay on and let your child hear you, that will be the best music to their ears.

When getting to that time for bed, ensure the lighting is dimmed. To keep it simple we will just touch on the science behind this. The body produces a chemical called melatonin which induces sleep. This chemical is released more readily by our pineal gland (located in our brain) when our eye’s optic nerve sends a signal that lighting has diminished or has been removed. Thus having a dimly lit room (keep a little light on in the background so baby does not get scared) is conducive to sleep. This is the same for adults so take note for you as well.

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The right fit: Ensure your baby’s clothes for sleep are comfortable. The diapers should not be too tight and clothes should be sensible to the temperature of the room. Of course we do not need to remind you to check sleeping attire for safety, i.e. nothing should put your baby at risk like them becoming entangled or smothered.

Room temperature: Let the room temperature be what is comfortable for you and then make it a little better. Your baby is a small creature and cool for you may be cold for them and vice versa. Bring in your observe hat again and monitor their comfort levels at differing temperatures. Don’t worry, you will know what is comfortable as they tend to let you know when they are not happy.

Your baby’s routine: With the knowledge preceding, you can now move forward and develop the best routine that fits your baby. To recap, let’s go over the main points:

  • Observe your baby’s habits;
  • Don’t substitute yourself with a toy or quick-fix gadget;
  • Learn the specific actions and behaviors that will assist your baby to develop a routine;
  • Create the best ambiance – lighting, less noise, no visual distractions;
  • Make sure baby’s outfit is comfortable for an inducing sleep;
  • Be sensitive to room temperature for your baby’s comfort and rest.

We do sincerely hope we have helped you in this area and we do wish you and your infant the best. Have a happy relationship now and remember this is just the foundation to a great and happy life together.