From long walks in the park to tickling their tiny little toes, being a new parent is amazing during the day. But after all of that fun, it can be a different story after the sun goes down. Even if you considered yourself a night owl before becoming a parent, you might not be ready for the constant late-night feeding and changing sessions that come with having a new baby. But there are some daily habits that will help your baby sleep longer and on a schedule.
The good news is that your sleepless nights won't last forever. Believe it or not, your baby will eventually realize the difference between night and day, and give you a few extra hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. However, it will take a while for him to get the hang of a normal sleep schedule. According to Parents magazine, babies aren't capable of being on a consistent sleep schedule until they are at least 4 months old.
Try some of these tips to help your baby sleep longer and more regularly, and create the ritual that works best for you and your family. Most importantly, be patient with the process, and be prepared for things like teething and colds to throw things off a bit. And before you know it, you'll all be having sweet dreams.
1. Keep A Consistent Bedtime Routine
A consistent bedtime routine can help baby get a good night's sleep, according to Parents magazine. When it's time for bed, choose a few calming activities such as soft music or a bedtime story, that baby will come to associate with sleeping.
2. Teach The Difference Between Day And Night
Baby Center suggested teaching your baby the difference between day and night by keeping the house nice and bright during the day and dark and quiet at night.
3. Take Cues From Baby
WebMD noted that parents shouldn't wait for baby to become overtired before putting her to bed. Instead, look for signs that she is tired including rubbing eyes, yawning, and fussing.
4. Don't Wake Baby For Night Feedings
WebMD also recommended that parents do not wake their baby for night feedings after 2 months of age if they are gaining weight properly. This will help them in the process of sleeping through the night.
5. Keep A Journal
According to Parenting, keeping a journal to track the times when baby gets hungry and sleepy can help moms and dads begin to anticipate their needs and establish a schedule. If pen and paper aren't your thing, there are lots of apps that allow you to track everything on your smartphone.
6. Try Co-Sleeping
Contrary to what you might think, Parenting suggests that co-sleeping can actually help babies sleep longer. A baby who wakes up next to his mom and dad will go back to sleep right away because they feel safe and secure.
7. Eliminate Eye Contact
You may be tempted to coo into your baby's eyes during a night time feeding, but Dr. Alan Greene told Parents that eye contact actually speeds baby's heart rate, making them more awake. Instead, save all of the staring for the daytime.
8. Load Up On Food During The Day
Dr. Sears suggested giving your baby the biggest feedings during the day. Making sure their bellies are full in the daytime will help prevent them from getting up for a snack in the middle of the night.
9. Swaddle Them To Sleep
Dr. Sears also recommended dressing babies loosely during the day, and swaddling in a cotton blanket or swaddler at night during the early months so that they associate the warmth of the swaddle with sleep.
10. Put Baby Down Awake
Rather than rocking your baby until she falls asleep, Parents suggested putting baby into her crib while she's drowsy, but awake. Parents can stay nearby and offer gentle touches until she falls asleep.
11. Cry It Out
CNN reported the results of an Australian study that found the cry it out method is a safe and effective method of sleep training, and does not cause long-term stress for babies. Apartment dwellers may not have many friends in the building, but for a few hours of extra sleep, it may all be worth it.