The way in which your baby sleeps will vary and there is no single, comprehensive set of instructions on how to be a good parent. Putting your child to sleep at the right time in a safe and secure environment will depend on your commitment and understanding of what your baby prefers. Sleeping can be a troublesome matter for most new parents because they expect babies to uniformly sleep at night like adults and be awake during the day. In reality babies have erratic sleeping patterns and it is not surprising that some nights will be sleepless for both the baby and the parents.
At the same time, to ensure that the baby sleeps properly and consistently it is highly important to have a routine for sleep and naps. This is important so that your baby can naturally develop the tendency to follow a good sleeping pattern.
Newborn babies sleep around 15-16 hours daily while 6 month old babies sleep for 14 hours and 12 months old babies sleep around 13 hours. As the baby’s age increases the number of hours he/she sleeps during the day decreases i.e. newborn babies sleep around 8 hours during the day while babies who are a year old sleep only around 2 hours during daytime. This only serves to provide the importance of a good night’s sleep for your child.
Tips to Make Your Baby Sleep
- Wrapping up your baby in blankets which make it feel warm and secure is usually helpful in inducing drowsiness. This technique is known as swaddling in which the baby is placed on a light blanket and one corner is folded inside snugly across one arm while placing the other end of the blanket on top.
- Massaging your baby before his/her sleeping time can also be helpful. The soothing touch of your hands will make the baby feel relaxed and peaceful making it easier for him/her to drift off to sleep.
- Rocking the baby to sleep is a very effective technique but it can be exhausting for parents to walk while rocking the child. In this case a rocking chair or crib can be used. Rock the baby while patting their backside lightly along with a song or light humming which makes them aware of your presence.
- Nursing your child to sleep is a good technique which ensures that they are well-fed and don’t end up waking up in the middle of the sleep due to hunger. You can also use pacifiers for this and some babies are used to thumb sucking which can help them fall asleep faster.
Sleeping Strategies for Babies
There are several tested strategies which can be followed depending on the temperament of your baby and your personal level of comfort.
- One way is to prepare your baby for sleep with comfortable clothes; nurse him/her and place your baby in the crib or cot to allow it to sleep independently on its own. You assist the baby in sleeping by patting on the back for a while. This approach allows a baby to sleep on its own and might involve letting them cry until they sleep in some cases. You can even train your child to sleep alone by distancing yourself gradually i.e. initially you can pat the child to sleep and sit in a chair near and gradually you can start moving further apart to allow the baby to adjust. You can even leave the room for short intervals and return again to soothe your baby in the crib without lifting him/her up.
- Letting the baby decide how he/she prefers to sleep is a different techniques in which parents do exactly what makes the baby sleep. In this case sucking a thumb, rocking or nursing becomes the sole stimulus for sleep.
- Co-sleeping can also be helpful because this will allow the parents to be available for the baby at all times and he/she will feel secure in the presence of a caretaker. You can use a separate crib or let the baby sleep in your bed, but in the latter case you have to be careful about the position in which the baby sleeps and avoid placing any heavy blankets around the baby. Co-sleeping can be disturbing for the parents and if the baby sleeps early it is essential to have a silent and dark environment.
By following these methods and tips you can ensure that your baby sleeps properly and gradually gets used to a routine which will make it easy for him/her to transition into either sleeping along or at least in a separate crib for his/her own health and safety.