Sleep deprivation is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting a newborn, and some babies continue to wake at night into toddler hood. While nighttime feedings are expected, sometimes babies will awaken at night even when they aren't hungry. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to develop healthy sleep habits and get your baby sleeping through the night sooner.
Teach Baby to Fall Asleep Independently
Many parents choose to rock their babies or hold them until they fall asleep and then transfer them into the crib. While this method of putting them to sleep might work when they're newborns, as the child gets older, it could result in them waking and crying out for you more often. The reason for this is that once babies approach about 4 months of age, they start sleeping more like adults, cycling between light and deep sleep throughout the night. Adults might wake briefly between sleep cycles during the night, but they are so used to these brief awakenings that they roll over and go back to sleep without any disruption. However, a baby who is accustomed to being put into bed already asleep will probably be startled when they awake briefly during the night, and they will become wholly awake and call out for a parent to put them back to sleep.
The research supports this notion. In 2005, researchers for the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that putting a baby in bed already asleep or staying with them until they fell asleep was linked with failure to sleep six consecutive hours at both 17 and 29 months of age. Furthermore, children were more likely to be poor sleepers if parents rocked them to sleep or took them to their beds after awakenings, instead of comforting the children in their own beds. Good sleepers, on the other hand, were more likely to be put to bed awake.
Teach your baby to fall asleep independently by putting him or her into the crib awake but drowsy. If baby cries, give him or her five minutes to try to go back to sleep. If the crying continues, return and comfort baby without picking him or her up, by using your voice to soothe or by rubbing baby's back or head. After offering a few minutes of soothing, leave the room, and return if baby continues to cry for another seven minutes. Walk out again, and if the crying continues, go back in 10 minutes, and then again every 10 minutes until the baby is asleep. This process requires consistency, but you will probably find that baby's ability to fall asleep independently and stay sleeping through the night improves within a week or two.
Ziggy Baby Swaddle Blankets
One of the best ways to make your baby fall asleep is by using a muslin swaddle wrap. The blanket gives them that safe and enclosed feeling that being in the womb did. When swaddled your baby is less likely to get startled, which means they won’t wake themselves up as often. It is a safe, easy, and effective way to get your baby to sleep through the night.
Please check out our Swaddle Blankets, including our Velcro Swaddle!
Another component to getting baby to sleep through the night is getting him or her used to retire in their bed. A 2015 study in Sleep Medicine worked with 153 families and found that mothers who co-slept with their babies reported more frequent night-awakenings in their babies compared to mothers whose babies slept alone in their own rooms. Perhaps co-sleeping results in more frequent awakenings because babies are disturbed by their mothers or fathers moving around at night. If the baby is used to co-sleeping, you can use the controlled-crying method described above, or other gentler sleep training methods, to get him or her to fall asleep independently in the crib.
Whatever method you use, getting baby to sleep independently can provide you with a more restful night. If baby is still feeding frequently at night or requiring you to rock him or her to sleep, you can try controlled crying sleep training on your own. If this method isn't a good fit for your family, there are plenty of free baby sleep resources available; do an internet search to find a sleep training method that aligns with your parenting style. You can also hire a personal sleep consultant to work one-on-one with you if the do-it-yourself approach isn't working.
About Ziggy Baby
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