One of the biggest concerns for any parent who just had a baby is how to get your baby to sleep more so that you can sleep better.
It’s not uncommon for newborns to be up through the night and only sleep during the day. Sometimes, your baby will wake up at 2-3 hour intervals to feed at night, which severely disrupts your sleeping routine.
However, lack of sleep is very harmful to your health and consequently, your baby’s health.
Inadequate sleep can trigger symptoms of Post-Partum depression in new mothers.
It can also lead to several other health conditions like lack of energy, accelerated cell degeneration (premature aging), weak immune system, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), weight gain, cardiovascular and respiratory tract diseases, diabetes, poor relationship skills, substance abuse, and the most dangerous of them all, cognitive decline.
Your body performs most of its maintenance and cleanup functions when you’re sleeping, and one of the things that it does is to prune the synapses in your brain so that new information can be stored and useless information can be discarded. If you are not sleeping or sleeping deeply enough, your mind cannot perform this function, and it eventually leads to cognitive decline and poor memory.
Imagine leaving your baby somewhere and forgetting, or driving and sleeping off at the wheels- dangerous right? So you see why it’s crucial that you always to enjoy restful sleep as you care for your toddler.
There are some ways to get your baby to sleep better, and we’ll discuss some of the most effective ones in this article. However, it’s essential for you to first have a clear idea of the regular sleeping pattern of babies according to their age.
How Long Should Your Baby Sleep For?
It is not safe to force your baby to adopt the desired sleeping pattern when they are less than three months old. There are a lot of things going on with your baby during this stage- their bodies are adjusting to their new environment, feeding patterns and growth, so you have to leave your baby to just do their thing- if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
So what’s the normal average sleeping time for your babies?
- Newborn (1-4 weeks old): Daytime 8 Hours (3 Naps), Nighttime 8 Hours 30 Minutes, Total hours of sleep daily 16 Hours 30 Minutes.
- 1 month (4-12 weeks old): Daytime 6-7 Hours (3 Naps), Nighttime 8-9 Hours, Total hours of sleep daily 14 -16 Hours.
- 3 months (12-24 weeks old): 4 – 5 Hours (3 Naps), Nighttime 10-11 Hours, Total hours of sleep daily 14-16 Hours.
However, if you notice that your baby is sleeping less than the average number of hours per day for their age, you can now start to find out if there’s something wrong, and look for ways to fix the problem.
8 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep More
#1. Prevent Startle Reflex
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you’re asleep and it feels like you’re falling from a tall building and you suddenly jerk back to life? It’s called startle reflex and babies experience it a lot.
Startle reflex interrupts your baby’s sleep and when they wake up crying, it’s hard for them to go back to sleep.
The most effective way to prevent startle reflex from keeping your baby up at night is to swaddle your baby.
Swaddling your baby by wrapping a cloth around them tightly, gives them a feeling of being held while they sleep, and prevents startle reflex.
#2. Stop Intervening Too Quickly
If you’re always quick to rush over to your baby’s cot to carry them each time they cry, move or look like they’re trying to wake up, you may end up disrupting your baby’s sleep patterns, and keep them awake for much longer.
Babies sleep in stages (there are at least 4 stages of sleep) and they may move, cry or make slight noises when they are moving from one stage of sleep to another.
You, on the other hand, may think that your baby is ready to wake up and then you carry them, ending up waking up a baby who wasn’t ready to wake up just yet.
It’s always best to wait a few minutes to see if your baby will go back to sleep before you pick them up.
If your baby cries or looks like they are about to wake up, try to comfort them right there on the bed and only pick them up if they don’t go back to sleep after a few minutes.
#3. Make Sure the Room Temperature is Right
Your baby cannot sleep comfortably if the room is too cold or too hot. Also, if the temperature of the room suddenly stops being conducive at any point during their sleep cycle, they may wake up prematurely due to the discomfort.
The best way to prevent this situation is to invest in a portable thermostat that you can place in your baby’s room to regulate the temperature automatically so your baby doesn’t have to be disturbed by fluctuating weather conditions.
#4. Learn How to Use Room Lightning to Induce Sleep
You can train your baby to sleep when you want by doing simple lighting adjustments.
Make sure your baby’s room is always dark as soon as its bed time. You can use dark curtains to make the room dark during the day when you want your baby to take a nap and then at night, make sure you turn off the lights and draw the curtains as soon as you finish prepping your baby for sleep.
If you do this consistently, your baby will be able to identify the darkness with sleep time so that as soon as you change the theme of the room and make it darker, your baby will know it’s time to sleep and they’ll fall asleep without making much fuss.
#5. Learn How to Dream-feed your Baby
Sometimes, when your baby wakes up to feed at night, it’s hard for them to go back to sleep. You can prevent this by adopting a nighttime feeding technique called dream-feeding.
Dream-feeding, your baby, means that you won’t allow the baby to wake up to feed. You’ll have to note the exact time when your baby wakes up to feed at night and then 10 to 15 minutes before that time; you wake up to feed your baby while they are still sleeping.
Your baby will be half-asleep while you’re feeding them and when you’re done, it’s easier for them to fall back to sleep because they didn’t wake up fully in the first place.
#6. Use White Noise
Another thing that works is to use white noise to induce faster sleep.
There are studies that prove that white noise mimics the natural sound that babies hear while they are still in the womb and it calms their nerves and helps them sleep better.
You can place a small white noise machine by your baby’s bed when it’s time to sleep, but you have to avoid putting it too close to their ears because their eardrums are still fragile at infancy and prolonged or loud noise may be harmful to them.
#7. Adopt a Consistent Soothing Pattern
Be very consistent with the way you soothe your baby when it’s bedtime. Just like when you adjust room lighting, adopting a consistent, soothing pattern also helps your baby realize it’s time to sleep and helps them sleep faster.
#8. Use a Good Diaper Brand
A lousy diaper can keep your baby up at night too. A good diaper is supposed to be able to absorb the nighttime bowel movements and keep your baby comfortable until they wake up but if you use a bad diaper with poor absorbent rate, it would only hold up for few hours after which it would start causing your baby serious discomfort that’ll keep them up at night.
If you’ve tried all of these and your baby is still not sleeping, find out if any underlying medical conditions may be preventing your baby from sleeping soundly through the night.