How to Help Baby Sleep Through the Night
For the first few months of your baby’s life, a good night’s sleep will be nothing more than a fading memory. It is fact of life for every new parent. There’s a lot going on in your baby’s new world, and a lot to get used to.
There’s a few things you can do to help your baby sleep through the night, but don’t stress too much about it. Your baby will settle in and figure out how the world works, but while you are waiting for that to happen it makes sense for you to make a few changes to your own routine.
When and Where to Sleep With Baby?
If you are suffering from sleep deprivation, I suggest you try to sleep when your baby does. Doesn’t matter if it is day or night.
Whenever your circumstances allow it, lie down on the couch or bed (or floor) next to the crib and catch some shut-eye while you can.
Falling asleep with your baby alongside you or cuddled in your arms is perfectly natural, so don’t fight your own need to sleep if you feel your eyes drooping in a quiet moment.
The most important consideration is that your baby will be safe while you are sleeping, so position yourself in the middle of your bed while you are nursing, not close to the edge.
Or choose a comfortable armchair, or make a temporary bed on the floor.
If you are determined to encourage your baby to sleep alone, move their bassinet or tiny crib close by before feeding and settling them. Your baby will not be fussy about where it is sleeping, so don’t stress about taking it to the bedroom in the early stages.
What Does Sleeping with Baby in the Day Do to My Own Sleeping Pattern?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard parents stress about napping in the daytime. They were taught as children to stay awake in the light, and sleep in the dark.
When they become new parents, they feel they should be following the same rules and teaching their own kids to sleep by the clock. It seems unnatural for them to change their own sleeping habits.
But sooner or later most sleep-deprived mothers (and fathers) falter and take a daytime nap, so it makes no sense to delay the inevitable. Have a guilt-free snooze when you get the chance.
Your own sleeping pattern will never be the same as it was before you had children, but nor should it be. As a responsible parent, you are never likely to have the same carefree existence as in life pre-babies.
Yes, you’ll have the joy of uninterrupted sleep again in the future, but for now you need to adapt to your new role as a parent and make room in your life and your routine for the newest member of your family.
Learn Languages While Sleeping
I have often wondered what difference it might have made if I had played CDs of foreign language lessons, set to repeat, when my little ones were sleeping.
Might they have learned French, Spanish and Italian with ease?
I don’t know if it is true, but even adults claim they’ve managed to learn languages while sleeping. Sounds like a good idea if it might work.
When Baby Sleeps Fine in the Day, but Won’t Settle at Night
This problem is far more common than you think. If your baby sleeps soundly in the day but won’t settle at night, you’re not alone.
Here’s an ah-hah moment for many mothers. Whether you are a stay at home mother or have gone back to work and leave your baby in care, there’s a good chance this tip will be a turning point for you.
Ask yourself, ‘What’s different between day and night times, other than light and dark?’
The answer is going to be ‘activity and noise’.
Your baby probably sleeps soundly in the kitchen and the lounge room and the car and the supermarket and alongside the television and in places where the radio is on, and even in daycare or at the mother’s meet where other babies are crying.
Your bub just snoozes through it all.
But at night, when the house is peaceful and you are just bursting for some quiet shut eye, your little one simply won’t settle.
Try turning on a radio. Music or chat, makes no difference. Don’t have it blaring, but use it to break the silence. I suspect you’ll be surprised how it helps.
I’m not suggesting that you make it part of your permanent routine because kids should be able to sleep in the quiet as well as the noise, but if it helps settle your baby so you can sleep at night when you are exhausted, load a CD or turn on the radio.
Then make a mental note to get your baby used to sleeping in the quiet at least some of the time during daylight as well.
How Can I Get Tasks Done If I Sleep in the Day?
A new baby complicates life. Suddenly there doesn’t seem time to get everything done.
Instead of feeling as though you need to give your new family member undivided attention during the waking hours, and completing chores and tasks while they sleep, combine the two.
My first baby was born in the 1970s when the ‘sling’ was new and required concentration to position the baby correctly on a piece of cloth laid on a bed, and dexterity to position your own body over the baby as you lifted, wrapped, and tied the cloth straps around your own belly to support the bub against your chest.
Within a decade, they’d added buckles to the design and provided a bit of support and padding.
By the time my last baby was born (2001), baby carriers were highly
sophisticated. Yet the designs I see today make even my most modern
contraption seem outdated.
Buy yourself a comfortable carrier (comfortable for you and your baby) and chat with your little one as you undertake tasks around your home together.
When it is baby’s sleep time, make it your snooze time as well. A few naps in the daytime will give you the energy you need to attend to your bub and calmly settle them again in the night.
How Newborn Babies Used to Sleep
In 2016 when a baby is born, the baby spends very little time away from its mother. Here in Australia, many parents are allowed to leave home the day of birth and take their babies straight home.
But think back and recall when newborn babies spent their first few days of life in the hospital nursery, brought to their mothers only for feeding. You’d stand looking through the nursery window and see nurses holding and settling a few crying babies while all the others slept soundly.
Lights blazed overhead so the nurses could actively keep an eye on each baby. New grandparents and others who came during visiting hours peered through the glass window, reading the cards at the end of each crib, searching for the little bundle that was now a new member of their family.
The newborn’s nursery was never quiet and rarely dark. Yet babies
In many homes around the world, babies still sleep despite their noisy environment. Homes near busy highways and train lines. Families with lots of boisterous siblings. Residences near factories or nightclubs. Babies sleep peacefully.
Babies and Toddlers Sleep in the Light and the Dark.
Don’t make the mistake of always putting your baby in a dark or dim, quiet room to sleep. Your young one should learn to sleep any time, anywhere.
Instead of racing home to tuck your littlie up in their own bed in their own room with the blinds closed, encourage them to just close their eyes and sleep. Hold them, settle them, lull them to sleep in different environments.
A tired baby who is soothed to sleep is unlikely to care much about what else is going on around them.
If you encourage your baby to settle and sleep in bright, noisy environments as well as in more peaceful settings, it will serve you well in the future.
Life will be much easier if your toddler can sleep soundly while other children are playing.
Resuming Normal Life with a New Baby
It is perfectly understandable when new parents tread lightly and talk quietly near a new baby. Newborns look so tiny and fragile, and all good parents should adopt a responsible attitude.
Yes, change is important. However some changes are more important than others.
Try to remember that when the novelty of the new bub wears off, you will be eager to return to life as you once knew it. You will want to visit friends, attend dinner parties, go on holidays, return to work, and feel like a person again (instead of just fulltime parent to your child.)
You’ll want your days (and nights) to accommodate yourself and your partner, as well as the baby. To achieve that, you and your child need to be flexible when it comes to sleeping time.
Look around you. Pay particular attention to children in the 12 month to 4 years age group, and their parents.
Some kids lie down on the floor on a rug or in a little sleeping bag and sleep soundly while parents continue to chat and socialize at a party.
Other children are picked up and carried out to the car by frazzled parents who are forced to leave an interesting social engagement to go home because their child needs to go to bed.
If you want to be the parent who can rely on their child to settle and sleep when they are tired – no matter where you are – you need to work towards that goal by making it ‘normal’ to just ‘close your
eyes and sleep’.
Relax, Your Baby will Sleep Through the Night
It might be hard to imagine when you are suffering sleep deprivation, but the time will come when your baby sleeps through the night.
There is no way to predict exactly when your tiny bundle of joy and sleeplessness will make the transition into a bundle of joy who lets you sleep through the night. But when it first happens there’s a good chance you’ll be climbing from your bed anyway; checking to make sure everything is alright. 🙂
The future holds teething problems, belly aches and all sorts of reasons for a child to be unsettled at night in future years, so sleeping through the night comes and goes.
But one thing remains constant.
Early childhood is the period when your child needs you the most. Without you to care and comfort them, there’s not much a baby can do to relieve a problem. Your bub can’t go to the tap and get a drink of water, change their own nappy or pat their own back.
The time will come too soon when they are independent and not quite so happy to see you.
That’s the day you’ll look back at these sleepless nights and remember them fondly.
Treasure this stage as you wait for your baby to sleep through the night. As tired as you are, you are the center of your baby’s world.