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How To Get Your Baby To Sleep Well

Although, March 1 is officially designated as National Baby Sleep Day, parents who have been sleep-deprived are all too aware of the importance of adequate sleep.

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We all know children require regular and adequate sleep for healthy growth and development. But did you know babies up to one-year-old do best when getting 12 to 15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle? Anything less than these recommendations results in compromised immune systems, lessened ability to learn, and emotional outbursts. Sound familiar?

How To Dress Baby For Sleep

For warmth while sleeping, dress the baby in one more layer of clothing than you are wearing, or place baby in a wearable blanket, often called a sleep sack. Flushed cheeks, sweating, or a hot chest indicate the baby is overheated.

When Can Babies Sleep With A Blanket?

Use a sleep surface that is firm and does not indent under the baby’s weight. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to be certain the bassinet, crib, portable crib, or play yard meet safety standards.

Once a baby is comfortable rolling from back to tummy and from tummy to back, put your baby to bed on their back, but don’t worry about returning a baby to their back if she rolls to her stomach.

At a year old, your baby can transition into a bed with blankets.

How To Get Baby To Sleep In A Bassinet

While the American Association of Pediatrics advises against sharing your bed with your baby, they do recommend sharing your room for the first six months. Keeping the baby nearby in a safe sleep area such as a bassinet or crib is convenient to comfort, feed, hear, and check on your baby.  

According to studies, room sharing can decrease the risk of SIDs by up to 50 percent. Ideally, keep the room where the baby sleeps between 68 and 72 degrees.

Initially, infants fall asleep while being held and fed. Place the infant who has fallen asleep on their back in the bassinet. Prior to sleep, lay the drowsy infant in the bassinet. When helpful, add a pacifier, a music box nearby, and perhaps a gentle pat. When the baby is calm, step away and give the young one the opportunity to self-soothe.

How To Sleep Train A Baby

Family counselor, June Hunt, in her book Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, says avoiding bedtime battles and assuring your child sleeps soundly begins with the Three R’s of bedtime: routine, routine, and routine.

Find a schedule that works for your family and stick with it.

Newborns sleep for short periods throughout the day and night. Babies at this age have one to two hours of wakefulness followed by 30 minutes to four hours of sleep. Waking in the night to be fed is normal and becomes less frequent as the baby gets older.

While some newborns fall asleep easily on their own, others prefer to be held or rocked. Occasionally, put your drowsy newborn into his bed to practice falling asleep on his own.

Bedtime Routines

When your child has nights and days confused, sleeping longer during the day and frequently awake at night, gradually wake the baby earlier each morning and after a couple hours of naptime during the day. In a short time, your daytime and nighttime clocks will be on similar schedules.

By three months old, a baby is ready for a 20 to 30 minute bedtime routine. Be sure your baby has a full tummy. Perhaps include a bath, bedtime story, song, and prayer. Give a pacifier if the baby uses one, lay the baby on her back in her bed, and step away.

When your baby cries, assure her she is okay and you are near. You can step away again. Add a minute each time before talking calmly to the baby, perhaps massaging a foot, and stepping away.

Helping your child learn to go to sleep without an adult in the room leads to the child being a better sleeper over all, often able to put themselves back to sleep when they wake in the night.

Should You Remove A Pacifier When A Baby Is Sleeping?

Pacifiers serve as soothers. Those with stronger sucking reflexes may take to a pacifier quickly while others are slower to accept, and some don’t like them at all.

After a baby has a full tummy from breastfeeding or bottle, you can introduce a pacifier if you prefer. These come in smaller sizes for newborns and different shapes to fit a child’s preferences. As a soother, a pacifier can satisfy the sucking reflex and ease the falling asleep process.

If the pacifier falls out of the baby’s mouth while sleeping, there is no need to put it back. Be careful not to attach the pacifier to clothing while the baby is sleeping as this can result is injury.

During waking hours, there is no need to offer the pacifier aunless the child is particularly fussy and is soothed with the pacifier.

Why Do Babies Fight Sleep?

Some babies wake in the night and put themselves back to sleep. Others cry because they need your help to go back to sleep.

Babies who wake in the night may be hungry. With a fully belly and dry diaper, your baby can settle back into a restful slumber.

When baby is awake, include 15 minutes of supervised tummy time, increasing to 30 minutes by two months of age. This activity increases development and motor skills. Children who are stretching their abilities tend to sleep easier.

For children with Migraine, bedtime routines may have been a struggle since infancy. The American Migraine Foundation reports that infant colic may be a precursor to childhood Migraine. Parents of colicky children are all too familiar with the struggle to get an uncomfortable child to sleep. If parents experience Migraine, this can be something to watch in an overly fussy baby.

For a baby who frequently fights going to sleep, it okay to feed until satiated, you can also gently rub her back to release trapped air bubbles in the form of burbs. Assure the baby is clean, warm, and in well-fitting clothing. When your baby does not feel well, extra time being rocked can be a comfort.

How To Calm A Fussy Baby

For parents who can’t find ways to soothe babies who seem to cry non-stop, Dr. Robert Hamilton has had years of success calming little ones with a position termed the Hamilton Hold.

Dr. Hamilton instructs parents to pick up the crying baby, and with one hand fold and support the child’s arms in front of their chest. This hand will simultaneously support the baby’s head near the chin. The parent’s other hand is used to cradle the baby’s bottom. Tip the baby at a 45-degree angle with the baby facing out from the parent. Gently rock the baby up and down, side to side, and in gentle circles.

The Hamilton Hold provides nearly instantaneous results. The arms at their chest and the easy movement is reminiscent of being in the womb. Facing out, the baby has a fresh and interesting view of her surroundings. The combination of familiar and new typically transforms a crying baby into a quiet and curious one.  

Do Babies Sleep More When Teething?

While some babies pop in four teeth at a time seemingly without effort, the same child may exhibit plenty of discomfort during another teething session. Medically, a baby’s temperature can rise while teething. Other symptoms include drool, fussiness, and tender gums.

The discomfort of teething can interrupt a baby’s usual sleep routines, causing shorter naps and the need for increased nighttime parenting. Simultaneously, there are babies who sleep more while bringing in new teeth. The physical changes can require additional energy leading to longer naps.

The first teeth can appear anywhere from three months of age through a year old. The two center teeth on the bottom gum are the first to make their entrance. Chewing on cool teething toys or wet washcloths that have been frozen can ease teething discomfort. If something more is needed to allow the baby to get adequate sleep, talk to your pediatrician about when and how much infant Tylenol or Ibuprofen is safe.

When Do Babies Sleep Between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Babies become more active around six months of age, exploring their surroundings, moving toward crawling, and pulling themselves up on furniture. Around this time, a baby may wake from sleep and pull himself up to stand in the crib. Be certain nothing is within reach that could be harmful.

Aim for a regular bedtime of 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. With additional physical activity, babies can sleep longer at night, often for ten to twelve hours, and take one to two naps during the day.

Sleep Secrets

Every generation wants to make sure their little ones get the best start in that crucial first year. And who better to turn to for advice than grandparents? They’ve been through it all raising you! It’s also a good idea to have a trusted pediatrician or family doctor for those regular check-ups and any health worries. If your little bundle of joy is still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to have a chat with your pediatrician.

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