While some babies seem instinctively to be good sleepers, others need to be taught how to soothe themselves to sleep and how to stay asleep all night. If your baby falls into this second category, you may be reading this with bleary eyes, praying for a miracle to help you get some uninterrupted rest tonight. While there is no magic "sleep cure" that works for all babies, the good news is that there are a number of things you can try to help you, and your baby, get some well-needed shut eye.
- Plan soothing activities to help lull your baby before putting him or her down for the night. Giving a bath, reading a book or cuddling in a rocking chair before bedtime are all good ways to help your child wind down and get ready to sleep.
Encourage your baby to fall asleep without relying on a pacifier, bottle or breast. This will allow your child to learn how to comfort him or herself without extra help.
When your child wakes up to eat or be changed, do these things in a darkened, quiet room with as little stimulation as possible. This will help encourage the baby to go right back to sleep easily.
Take steps to develop a bedtime routine. Over time your baby will begin to know what to expect at night.
If your baby gets up at the crack of dawn, try shifting his or her bedtime. By putting the child to bed later, he or she may also sleep longer in the morning.
On the flip side, if your baby goes to bed very late and also sleeps way past the rest of your household, try to wake him or her with the rest of you, so the child will be tired much earlier that night. By doing this consistently, over time the baby's schedule may adjust to yours.
If your baby has trouble sleeping through the night, see if shortening his or her naps will help to change this.
For babies that save up much of their eating for during the night, try adding a few more feedings during the day and see if this makes a difference. Sometimes feeding in a quiet place will help to minimize distractions and let your baby focus on eating well during daylight hours.
Learn as much as you can about the various schools of thought when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep. Some experts suggest taking your child into bed with you so you can both rest well all night, while others feel strongly that babies should sleep in their own cribs and should be allowed to cry it out for a few days until they get used to sleeping through the night. Understand that there are merits to both approaches and you should do whatever feels right to you.