You never thought that the question how to get a baby to sleep would bother you – that is until you became a parent. In fact 25% – 30% of all babies and infants experience sleep disorders which mean having problems falling asleep and waking up multiple times at night. The result is tired parents missing the time when they enjoyed a full night sleep.
A proper baby sleep schedule
Babies should sleep a full night (at least five hours) already at the age of six months. They also require two short naps during the day. At this age, they tend to wake up once or twice a night and go back to sleep by themselves without any problems. For many parents that may sound as a dream.
So why my newborn won’t sleep? How can I fix it?
Many babies simply don’t know how to sleep. What you will have to do is to form good sleep habits.
Performing a strict daily ritual
This ritual must consist of a fixed an unchanging routine of feeding, shower, dimming the lights, playing relaxed music, putting a favorite object (a toy, a pacifier) next to your baby and a goodnight kiss. The secret to success lies in consistency. Remember, it takes time to form good sleep habit and you mustn’t give up.
The Ferber Method
Dr. Richard Farber, Director of the Center for Sleep Disorders in Children at Boston Children’s Hospital, have come up with a few basic rules meant to teach babies to fall asleep on their own. These rules, known as the Ferber Method, consists of the following:
- Place the baby in bed, always on his back.
- Say ‘good night’, give a kiss and leave the room.
- Even if the baby is a little restless or crying, take a deep breath and leave the room .If she continues to cry, wait two minutes outside the door (It is advisable to use a stopwatch, because even the most patient parent will feel that every second is an eternity when his child cries.).
- Then, return to the room. Don’t turn on the lights and don’t talk to the baby. Check that she is okay and make sure she is on her back, whisper ‘sleep time’ and leave the room even if she is crying.
- If your baby still keeps on crying. Re-enter the room after 5 minutes had passed (use a stopwatch and do not cheat!) and do the same: Leave the lights turned off and whisper ‘sleep time’.
- Repeat this routine every 5 minutes.
It’s not easy, but as harsh as it may sound, it will eventually teach your baby to fall asleep on her own.
Other reasons for sleeping problems
Sometimes babies wake up at night for real reasons.
- Your baby may be hungry or thirsty: If the baby is older the 1 year, feeding before bed time may help her sleep better. If she wants to drink, give her water and insist on getting back to sleep.
- Room temperature: Make sure your baby’s room is not to cold or too hot.
- Fear of the dark: young children are afraid of the dark. It’s very common. The simplest solution is to leave a small lamp with light on.
How to get a baby to sleep when she wakes up at fixed hours during the night
If your baby wakes up at the same hour every night, it is recommended to gently wake her up 15 – 20 before that and then put her back to sleep. Your intervention will eventually put an end to this routine wake up.
Allow your child to sleep (in bed) in a room with a brother or sister (Get their consent beforehand). Sometimes, not being alone is a major step towards a continuous night’s sleep
Many times baby sleep problems stem from a medical condition, which tyour pediatrician will quickly diagnose. Your baby may suffer from one of the following:
- Milk intolerance leading to abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea or skin rash.
- Anal fissure that may cause severe discomfort.
- Inguinal Hernia.
- Gases or other gastrointestinal disorders.
- Acid reflux which becomes common the moment your baby switches to solid food.
- Teething symptoms. Babies begin teething when they are 4 – 7 months. This process involves pain and fever.
- Respiratory problems.
- Ear infection.
Bad dreams or nightmares are quite common among toddlers and they usually start at the age of 18 months to 3 years. There is no need to worry; nightmares do not indicate any mental disorder. They may happen because of anxiety about a television program or a scary story your child has been exposed to throughout the day.
When awakening from a bad dream, your toddler needs reassurance, so that she can relax and feel safe. A parent’s hug is all that it takes.
When bad dreams occur at the same time every night, you should break this cycle by awakening your child about 15 minutes before, and then let her go back to sleep. Most toddlers will not remember the next morning anything that happened at night.
There is no one clear answer to the question how to get a baby to sleep. This article offers a few ways to do it. You should choose what works best for you and for your child. Remember that the best method is just patience. In 95% of the cases sleeping problems cease as the baby grows up.