Ah, sleep. If you’re a new parent, then the chances are you’ve been racking up some serious sleepless nights as of late. Introducing a new baby to the family is an exciting time filled with challenges. However, it’s essential to realize that babies are equally confused by this change in arrangements – where’s that warm, cozy womb gone?! Sleep is vital for adults and babies to function, and can assist with your child’s growth and development from those very earliest days. So, what’s a tired parent to do?
Top tips for helping your baby to sleep
While not exhaustive, these tips should inspire a happier, more restful bedtime for both you and your baby. Remember, though, that every baby is different. You’re going to need to use your gut when it comes to bedtime.
Consider baby massage
Research conducted by Miami University concluded that a single, fifteen-minute massage at bedtime can help babies and toddlers to fall, and stay asleep; perhaps reassured by the nurturing touch of a parent or loved one. The benefits of massage for adults have long been heralded, and baby massage is becoming more popular. Indeed, consultant pediatricians and researchers agree that massage can be as beneficial to a child’s health as nutrition, stimulating bone growth, muscle development, and motor skills. Consider preparing a special massage ritual, using a lightly scented lotion that will inspire comfort. Your gentle caress will relax and soothe your baby.
Establish a routine – and stick to it
We all know how beneficial routine can be, and your baby is no different; a routine enables your baby to prepare for key events during the day, and to wind down as bedtime draws near. The kind of routine you establish is up to you, but it may involve a warm, soothing bath, a little quiet playtime, and a bedtime story, followed by warm milk and lullabies. It’s important that you keep this ritual the same each evening, as far as you’re able. As your baby grows up, he or she will come to recognize the signals that bedtime is approaching, preparing him or her for sleep without fuss or struggle.
Get the right crib set up
The room, and crib in which your baby sleeps will become a vital part of the bedtime routine, giving your child a safe, secure, and comfortable space in which to switch off and drift away. Until six months of age, it’s recommended that a baby sleeps with its parents, so give your baby a cozy corner of your room that’s away from drafts and heat sources. To encourage a restful night’s sleep, you may wish to decorate your child’s sleeping space with a crib mobile, featuring reassuring scenes and a cozy cloud or two. Once your baby is in his or her own bedroom try and maintain consistency. That cot mobile may well become an integral part of your baby’s self-soothing.
Settle your baby to sleep on its own
While it can be tempting to nurse or feed your child to sleep, or to wait in his or her room until you hear your baby’s breathing regulate, it’s a good idea to encourage self-soothing; your baby will sleep less easily if he or she always expects you to be nearby. When putting your baby down for bed, remind your baby that you will see him or her in the morning. If your baby cries, allow a few minutes to pass before heading into the nursery. Cozying your baby to sleep is a wonderful feeling, but is likely to lead to many, many months of creeping in and out of his or her bedroom like a ninja.
Introduce a little white noise
Numerous studies have indicated that the presence of white and pink noise can help to reassure and soothe babies; mimicking the sounds a baby would hear in the womb, these static noises calm a baby, and block out the scary, silent world that many babies actually find disconcerting. White and pink noise can include the sound of static, the patter of falling rain, or even a hoover. For baby to sleep properly, you may also wish to think about lighting. Darkness encourages the brain to release the sleep hormone, melatonin. Make sure your baby understands the difference between day and night by making playtimes bright, and evenings far dimmer. Indeed, a dimmer switch is a great way to ease your baby towards sleepy time.
Above all, it’s important to create a routine that works for your family, and to recognize that every baby is different; your baby will sleep in his or her own time. Happy sleeping!