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4 things to do to help your baby go to sleep

Even before you become a parent, this is the image you learn to dread: you carrying a loudly crying infant through the night and failing repeatedly to put them to sleep. Bedtime may seem daunting at first, especially since your little one is constantly waking up for changes and feeds the first couple of months, but relax, it does get better. Here are a few things you could try to help your baby go to sleep faster, for longer.

 

Mother puts baby to sleep

 

1. Understand your baby’s sleep patterns

Each baby is different. Even siblings differ. Some kids fall asleep faster, others take more time. Keep an eye on your baby to see if they’re exhibiting the classic signs of sleepiness such as yawning, rubbing their eyes, losing interest in play and so on. This is naturally the best time to put your baby to sleep. If you wait too long, your baby may become overexcited, tired and cranky. Many parents allow their baby to stay up too late thinking they’ll be sleepier, but this is just counter-productive. On the other hand, if you allow your baby to have frequent unscheduled naps, especially as they grow older, it will affect their ability to fall sleep at night.

 

2. Establish a bedtime routine

Make sure your baby has their own sleeping space. A bassinet by your bed will do for starters but as your baby grows older, switch them to a crib, and after the age of two or once they start attempting to climb out of it, move them to a toddler bed. More importantly, you need a few cues every night at bedtime to signal to your little one, that it’s time to drift off into the land of nod. You could dim the lights, put on some soft music or white noise, croon to your baby (or read a bedtime story once they’re older), gently pat them and so on. Make sure this routine is followed every night at more or less the same time.

 

3. Don’t let them over feed at night

Typically, night feeds lessen as the baby grows older and by the time they’re over 12 pounds, they should ideally be able to sleep through the night. A light feed before bedtime does help your baby fall asleep, but an overfed baby will not sleep well. For one thing, they’ll need more diaper changes through the night. It’s also not great practice to feed a sleepy or half-asleep baby, as they will not feed properly in that state. So try and wean your little one off night feeds at the right time. It will take a little patience and some tears, but keep at it so you both can sleep through the night.

 

4. Start helping them fall asleep on their own

Again, this will require patience, but start them off early. Once you’ve established a bedtime routine, stick to it and do not fall into the trap of changing it. For instance, don’t introduce new, habit forming practices such as rocking, carrying the baby around, allowing them to fall asleep on you and so on. Your baby will start to expect it.

 

No matter what, stay patient and always remember, this is a short phase in your baby’s life. Before you know it, they will be older and sleeping better and more independently – and you’ll be less sleep deprived.