Strategies and Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep at Night
It can be so hard to get your baby to fall asleep, even when you know he is tired. He may fight sleep and having to rest by kicking, screaming, crying or just fussing. Needless to say, while he is fighting it, you will probably be going nuts yourself. Babies are stubborn and when they do not want to do something they are sure to let everyone who will listen know about it. Parents often find themselves asking what they can do to get their babies to sleep easier and sleep longer. We have the answers!
1. Create a bedtime routine. Your baby may fall asleep easier if there is an order that you do things every evening and he knows what to expect. Some babies don’t like the feeling of surprise when they are put to bed and would rather be eased into it. Start with dinner, a bath, nursing and then bed. If you want you can throw in a song, a story, or a massage.
2. Try to get your newborn to bed when he is sleepy but not overtired. If you let him get overtired he may have a harder time falling asleep and fight it more. If he is sleepy he will probably let his body’s natural instinct take over and lull him to sleep.
3. Use the light and dark to help “program” your baby. Wake your baby up in the morning once the sun comes up and start putting him to bed as the sun goes down and the room gets dark. Let the natural light help teach your baby when to fall asleep and when to wake up.
4. Check the sleep environment. You don’t want the area he sleeps in to be too busy or have too much going on. Find a quiet corner his bed can go in and take the toys out of the bed. Allow him no distractions so that he can easily go to sleep.
5. Teach your baby how to self-soothe. It is never too early to think about it so that when it is time to begin you can easily help your baby start putting himself to sleep. Once your baby can calm himself and put himself to sleep, it will free up your time to take care of other family matters. It will also help him be able to fall BACK to sleep after being awoken.
6. Pay attention to his pattern. If you watch his sleeping you will begin to notice a pattern forming of when he is tired, is ready for bed, how long he will sleep and you will know about when he will wake up. Knowing your baby’s schedule will make it easier to judge when he needs to sleep and how long you have before he wakes up.
7. Avoid stimulation. Highly stimulating forms of activity right before bedtime can wind up your baby making it hard to get him to settle down and go to sleep. Keep it calm and quiet in the house leading up to his bedtime so that he will fall asleep with little fuss.
Napping a Six Month Old
By the halfway point of your baby’s first year, not only has he hit a ton of milestones, but he is probably on a regular nap schedule throughout the day. Most babies will be waking up and going to bed at night about the same time, and taking a couple of naps a day for a couple of hours each. These will normally be in the morning and afternoon. At this point it becomes much easier for mom and dad to plan outings as well as meals in the house, because they know when their baby will be awake, and when he will be asleep.
Napping a One Year Old
Most one year olds are still taking a couple of naps a day at this point; however the naps may not be lasting as long. Your baby is probably up walking, running, and very interested in the world around him. It may be hard to get your baby to actually settle down and take a nap, when there is so much else that they would love to do. Enjoy the down time you do have however, because it may not last much longer.
Napping an 18 Month Old
By the time your baby is 18 months old he probably would have cut out one of his naps. Instead of a mid-morning and mid-afternoon nap, he will probably just be taking his afternoon nap, although it may have moved closer to noon or right after lunch. It also may have gotten longer. Where your baby may have only been sleeping an hour to an hour and a half in the afternoon, he could possibly be sleeping 3 hours now. Make the most of this time during your day and get stuff done.
Napping a Two to Three Year Old
Sometime during your baby’s second and third birthday it is highly likely that he will no longer be taking naps. There is entirely too much going on in his world and too much to see and do. You will put him in his crib or toddler bed and he may sit and play for the two hours he is there instead of napping. Your peace and quiet may be coming to an end. The good news is that since your child still needs at least 12 hours of sleep a day, it might be possible to put him to bed early, around six in the evening and have him sleep all night. This will give you that free time in the evenings to get done things that you were not able to get done during the day.
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