Every baby is different and will have different preferences when it comes to sleeping, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully getting your baby to sleep through the night every night. However there are some things you can do to aid your baby in falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. Here are 5 tips for increasing your baby’s sleep:
- Swaddle the baby to make him feel safe and secure. Lay a blanket down on the floor or changing table in a diamond shape. Fold the top corner down several inches, so that it’s near the middle of the blanket. Lay the baby’s neck on that fold. Bring the bottom or opposite point of the blanket up to cover the baby’s legs and body. The blanket should not cover the baby’s face. Next take one side of the blanket and bring it across the baby’s body, tucking it under the baby snugly and making sure his arms are down at his sides. To finish, bring the last corner of the blanket over the baby pulling it tightly over his body and tucking it in the corner under him. Make sure this is secure because you don’t want the baby’s arms to come loose. Swaddling mimics the tight quarters the baby experienced in the womb, and many babies find it comforting and will often fall asleep very quickly after being swaddled.
- Put on some white noise in the room. Turning on white noise in the nursery is comforting to the baby because these monotonous sounds remind her of the womb, and there are many different options for creating white noise. Turn on a fan, taking care not to position it directly facing the crib otherwise it could make her too cold. Playing recordings of a vacuum or a lullaby CD will also work, and you can even purchase white noise machines. These are available in many sizes, including a travel size, making it convenient for any trips you may need to take with your newborn.
- Make the bedroom dark. By making the bedroom dark you are conditioning the baby to sleep through the night which is the ultimate goal for most families. Hang room darkening shades at the window so the room can be made dark any time during the day. This also can prevent him from waking up with the sun in the morning. Sleeping in a completely dark room has also been found to be better for your baby’s eyes. According to a study completed at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, nighttime light before the age of 2 has been linked to myopia later in life. Myopia is the technical name for nearsightedness.
- Control the temperature of her room. While there seems to be varying opinions on what the ideal temperature is for a baby’s room, one thing remains consistent. The room should feel comfortable to you when you are in it according to the AAP, (American Academy of Pediatrics). Ideally the temperature of the room should be between 67 and 70 degrees. A room that is too warm can lead to a baby that is too warm and this has been linked to SIDS, (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Keep an eye on her temperature when you come in for feedings. Does she feel very warm to the touch; is she sweating or breathing quickly? These could be signs that she is too warm and needs to cool down. Circulating air in the room with some type of fan is also suggested as a way to avoid having the room feel too warm or stale. Moving air will eliminate the chances of her rebreathing air which has also been linked to SIDS.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine. Babies are all about routine. Even though he is unable to say anything yet, his brain is growing by leaps and bounds. His body registers all routines and creating a bedtime routine will help him know when it’s time to sleep. This routine does not have to be a long one. Many parents opt for a warm bath to relax him. Followed by feeding him either by breast or by bottle. Turn on some sort of white noise in the room and lay him down in a dark room. If he is still awake at this point you can finish up with a gentle massage to sooth his tense muscles. Beware, some babies are stimulated by massage instead of relaxed.
Well rested babies are happier babies. Giving your baby the tools she needs to maximize sleep now will help her to develop good sleeping habits for life.