Lulling Your Baby to Sleep
Getting your baby to unwind and relax can be a challenge. Read on to find out how to soothe your baby so that he can sleep with ease, or just to rest and relax.
Many newborns tend to sleep during the day, and stay awake at night. They do not know the difference between day and night yet. You can teach your baby how to differentiate day and night by behaving differently at these times. In the day, talk to your baby more, play with him, and keep the house bright. At night, keep the lights dim, speak softly and calmly in a lower tone of voice.
Newborns need to be fed every few hours because they have an immature digestive system. As such, they will wake up every few hours as they get hungry and need to be fed. They may also stay awake for an average of two hours before they start getting fretful. Since you are also likely to have a disrupted sleep pattern, it is best to nap when your baby sleeps. As he gets older, his nap time will be reduced. Make sure that you and your partner have a system of sharing domestic responsibilities. One person can be in charge of chores like housework, laundry and meals. This allows the primary caregiver to be well rested so that they are in a good frame of mind to take care of the baby.
Put your baby to sleep on his back. This helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or “cot death”. Make sure the cot does not have fluffy toys, pillows, cot bumpers or quilts to reduce the possibilities of accidental suffocation. Newborns do not need pillows, but you could move your baby’s head position each night (right to left, left to right) to prevent him from developing a flat spot on one side of his head. Avoid putting your baby to sleep in cloth cradles as these are unsafe.
Routines for Sleep
One of the best ways to teach your baby to sleep well is to develop a bedtime routine. This means that you do the same things each evening to prepare him for bed. You can start doing this when he is about 6 - 8 weeks old.
Most parents follow the popular bath-massage-quiet time-feed routine. A nice warm bath is soothing and most babies easily get in the mood for sleep after one. Once the baby is dried and diapered, you can give him a short massage with a little massage oil, cream, or lotion that has been specially formulated for babies. A massage will also help him to calm down and relax. It also helps to promote parent and child bonding.
After your baby is dressed, you can read, sing, or chat with him as he winds down. Then give him his bedtime feed. Put him in the cot when he is drowsy. Let him fall asleep by himself. This is the hard part. Some babies do it naturally, some do it with a little help: sucking their thumb, cuddling a favourite toy, or fingering the edge of a sleep suit.
You could put on some lullabies or classical music while doing the bedtime routine. Your baby will soon associate that particular piece of music with sleep, and settle down with less fuss when he hears it. This is especially useful when travelling!
It can be a frustrating process if your baby does not sleep well and wakes up many times throughout the night. You can take turns with your partner or other family members to put the baby to sleep. Make sure that everyone is consistent in the way they put the baby to sleep.
The text of this article was originally published on the website of the Health Promotion Board. Reproduced with some modifications with permission from HPB.