Much as we love them, babies can bring parents to their knees when they wake frequently during the night. Tired from a hard day at work, it's hard to get up in the wee hours of the morning to soothe a crying baby who probably doesn't realize he's supposed to be nice and quiet so the rest of the family can get some rest! Getting baby to sleep at night becomes a huge task
So how do we cope with this situation? The first thing to realize is that babies do wake frequently during the night as their sleep cycles are shorter than ours. Most times we are unaware of this as they often just close their eyes and go back to sleep again. However if your family's sleep is being disturbed all the time, helping baby sleep through the night is priority number one! Here's some things to try.
Make sure he goes to bed at the same time every night - In other words establish a baby sleep schedule. Babies & young children find routines comforting, it makes them feel secure. Whether it's a bath, a cuddle or a bedtime story, try to do the same things every night. Don't put him down too late - It's a fact that sleep deprived babies wake more frequently. Let him have naps during the day when he seems tired, this will help him sleep better at night.
Don't stimulate your baby in the evenings or close to bedtime. He will find it harder to go to sleep and may wake up more often. Make the hours before bed soothing and relaxing. Give him a chance to go back to sleep on his own. Babies will often do this if left for a few minutes. Falling back to sleep by themselves establishes good sleeping habits. Of course if he becomes really distressed you need to attend to him.
Is he too hot or too cold? Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. A baby's room should also be dark and quiet for him to sleep properly. Make sure he's not sick. Babies can fall sick quite quickly. If he has a cold, a stuffy nose could be making him restless. Is he thirsty? Sometimes a drink of water will settle him. Don't offer sugary drinks or milk if it's not his normal feed time.
Separation anxiety - Sometimes babies can wake up and not realize you're in the room next door. In this case just calling out to him may suffice. Night terrors and nightmares - They sound similar but are actually quite different. Babies will wake up frightened after a nightmare. They may act frightened when they are experiencing night terrors but are not awake. In any case they need to be comforted.
Music soothes everyone, even animals! If you have a tape or CD of lullabyes, this can work really well. So try what works for you and your baby. Take a nap during the day yourself if time permits. Don't worry if you get grumpy sometimes, you're not supposed to be perfect. Just remember these trying times won't last for ever. If you have a happy baby during the day, you're doing OK!
If you have a baby that's not sleeping, or wakes several times in the night, it could impact the whole family. Getting baby to sleep may be easier than you think.
By Wendy Owen Dip HHT
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