Anyone who has experienced lack of sleep will sympathise with parents whose babies will not sleep at night. My first child did not sleep through the night until she was a year old. By then I was frazzled and my nerves were torn to shreds. Before my second child was born I made plans and decided on a nighttime routine. By the time he was nine months he was regularly sleeping through the night. What had I done differently the second time? I decided that I would not let him drift off to sleep on my breast or on my knee. I taught him how to settle himself to sleep instead of rocking him to sleep like I rocked my daughter. If you want to avoid the torture of sleep deprivation here are a seven simple keys to help you get a good nights sleep.
Key 1- Look for the first signs of tiredness. Watch your baby and notice his actions when he is getting tired, does he rub his eves or head, suck his fist or fingers or wriggle in a particular way. When babies are overtired they become fretful and find it more difficult to drift off to sleep.
Key 2 – Make sure your baby is neither too hot nor cold.
Key 3 – Observe your baby's preferences Does your baby sleep more easily when he is swaddled in a cotton sheet? Does your baby prefer silence or music such as a lullaby, classical or womb music? Does your baby prefer complete darkness or a night-light? Parents often think a babies are afraid of the dark but remember they spend the first months of their lives in a warm, dark womb. Does your baby find a mobile disturbing or does she find it soothing? Does you baby like to be rocked gently, patted or stroked? Held in an upright position or horizontally?
Key 4 – Put your baby in her pram or cot before he falls asleep If possible put your baby down to sleep when she is drowsy so she can become accustomed to falling asleep on her own. Babies who learn to do this at an early age are more likely to re-settle themselves when they awake during the night. Also babies generally like to wake up where they fell asleep so it is much easier to teach your baby how to settle himself in a cot or pram.
Key 5 – Do not over stimulate your baby during night feeds If your baby wakes for a feed during the night do not over stimulate her by chatting or playing with her. Babies can not distinguish between night or day so if you play with your baby she will continue to wake up for a play even when she has out grown her night feeds.
Key 6 – Develop a bed time routine Once you have observed your babies sleep patterns you can develop a simple bedtime routine. Routines help babies and children feel secure, however routines are only effective if they are followed consistently. A bedtime routine can be as simple as this: Feed Quiet play – do not over stimulate your baby Cuddle and story 7.30 baby in bed.
Key 7- Feed your baby if he needs it Anyone can train a baby to sleep through the night by ignoring his or her cries for milk and affection. However, most young babies of 0-6 months (and older if they are below the average weight of a 6 month old baby) need feeding and attention through the night. Babies can not control their sleeping patterns nor can they distinguish between night and day. If you feed a hungry baby during the night then tuck him back into his cot he is more likely to feel loved and secure.
The secret to getting a good night's lies is helping your child to develop a sleep routine. You can do this by observing your babies sleep patterns, feeding him if he's hungry, putting him down to sleep when he is drowsy and creating a consistent bedtime routine.
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