Tips to a Peaceful Sleeping Baby
Most new moms and dads expect some interrupted sleep in the first weeks of parenthood, but few are prepared for the toll a wakeful infant can take on their lives. Sleep is the critical time in which we process the events of the day, recharge tired bodies, and give ourselves permission to switch off. Being deprived of sleep has a powerful effect on both our physical and mental well-being and can be a real problem for parents already trying to adjust to this new member of the household.
Failing to get enough sleep can also be problematic for your little one. Infants are very good at getting the rest they need - though not always when their parents might want them to. The problems tend to arise later when young children have not developed a regular sleep pattern that gives them sufficient downtime. Lack of sleep can slow their physical and cognitive development, and lead to significant behavioral problems. That’s why it’s so important for babies to learn to fall asleep when they’re put to bed and become accustomed to a stable routine.
Here are some tried and true tips for helping your baby to a good night’s sleep.
When you’re getting ready to put your baby to bed, try to avoid catching their eye. Infants are stimulated by extended eye-contact, and gazing adoringly is more likely to fire them up than calm them down.
Nothing is as comforting to your baby as the soothing sound of your voice. Many babies get anxious when they find themselves alone in their crib, and knowing you’re close by will help to ease their fears.
Practice daily meditation when your baby is drifting off to sleep. The sound of your focused breathing will help to calm her down and ease early separation anxiety. It will also help your baby to become accustomed to spending time with you without being the complete center of your attention. Our favorite is playing a soft guided meditation from YouTube.
Essential oils like lavender and chamomile are known for their relaxing powers, and a gentle massage before bed will help your baby transition to sleep.
It’s much easier to get a baby to sleep if he’s not overtired. Start your nightly routine early, so that your baby is all set to lie down when he’s ready for sleep. Going to bed when he first begins to tire actually leads to a better, and longer, night’s sleep. Baby’s who nap regularly also tend to sleep better at night.
It takes a while for infants to develop the ability to control their own temperature, so make sure their room is the right temperature for sleeping. The ideal temperature is somewhere between 65 and 70 degrees. Use a sleep sack if your baby tends to throw off a loose cover, and swaddle for the first few months.
Don’t use nightlights, and make sure to pull the blinds so that the room remains dark for sleeping, even during daily naps. This helps your baby understand the difference between wake and sleep time, and they will come to naturally relax in bed when the lights are out.
Babies in utero are constantly bombarded with sound, from mom’s beating heart to grumbling stomach. Many infants sleep better when there’s white noise in the room. This can be as high-tech as a specialized baby sound-machine, as soothing as whale music, or as simple as a rotating fan.
Babies love to be wooed to sleep with a song, and they don’t tend to mind if you’re off-key or a bit fuzzy about the words. Singing your baby to sleep is also a proven way to lower your own stress levels, so go ahead and see if you can remember all of your childhood favorites.
Next time you’re putting together a playlist for the gym, try putting a few tunes together for your baby’s next nap. Some parents swear by the power of cheesy love songs, while others stick to the fundamentals of Mozart and Beethoven. Whatever your preference, you may find that your baby will stop fussing in order to hear the music and that falling asleep becomes an auto-response to certain songs.
Eventually, all babies learn to self-soothe and fall asleep, but helping them along in the early months is the best way to establish healthy patterns from which they will benefit throughout their growing years.
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