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Getting Babies to Sleep

There have been hundreds of books written to help parents.

By
Cherylyn Feierabend
March 30, 2007
Episode #008

Getting Babies to Sleep

Today’s Topic is Sleep Baby Sleep: Tips for Working Through Sleep Issues.

How to Get Your Baby to Go to Sleep

There have been hundreds of books written to help parents find ways to make their babies sleep. There are so many different methods to choose from; how does a parent know where to begin? Well, if your baby already sleeps well, I suppose you don’t need to know, but I rarely hear other moms say, “Oh my kid just loves being put in his crib. He goes right to sleep every time.”

More often, it's the bleary-eyed mom who hasn’t slept in days that says, “He just won’t sleep. He never sleeps.” Well, that’s probably not entirely true. He probably sleeps in the car or in mom’s lap while she’s feeding him. Babies have a nice comfort zone all snuggled up with mom, dad, or in the confines of a car seat cruising down the road. That’s much more appealing than a lonely crib.

Tips for Getting Your Baby to Sleep

With all of the books on the market and websites touting surefire ways to get your baby to sleep, it certainly can cause a parent frustration when nothing seems to work. Since this is a quick and dirty podcast about practical parenting, I’m not going to make any promises or give you any amazing new sleep methods to try. Instead, I am going to share with you some tips, which are simply practical. I’m sure that there will be more sleep topics to discuss in the future, but for this article, let's stick with the basics.

My first child would not ever go to sleep on her own, but I was much luckier the second time around. Yes, I did say “luckier.” I have talked to so many parents and have reached the conclusion that some children sleep and some don’t. You cannot determine the personality of your child. I tried so many different sleep methods with my first child and the only thing that ever worked was to hold her and put her to bed once she was asleep. She is now three years old and goes to sleep on her own every night. My second child has been going to sleep on his own since he was an infant. I never really had to try anything special with him. It was like a miracle to me.

Get Your Baby to Sleep by Relaxing

My first tip is to relax. I know that you want to get your baby to sleep. Some people believe that you should never put your baby down awake and let them soothe themselves to sleep. Other people believe just the opposite.

If you don’t let your child work it out on their own, they’ll never sleep properly; the most important thing you can do is use whatever method works best for you and your child.

If you don’t let your child work it out on their own, they’ll never sleep properly. As a parent of both types of children, my opinion is that the most important thing you can do is use whatever method works best for you and your child. If your child is content to go into the crib awake and puts himself to sleep, great. If he cries and you cannot tolerate it and you enjoy the extra snuggle time, then hold your baby to sleep and lie him down gently once he’s dozing. If possible, take turns cuddling each night so that baby is comfortable falling asleep with both parents. Whatever method you choose, be sure you are incorporating it into a nightly routine. Remember, children thrive best on routines. Whether its bath, story time, lullabies, and bedtime or whatever routine you choose, setting up the scene for bedtime will give your child the nightly heads-up that bedtime is coming.

Soothe Your Baby to Sleep

There are some simple ideas I can share which have helped to soothe babies. Some babies sleep better with sound around them. They are surrounded by sounds all day long and the quiet of the night can sometimes be distracting. You can try creating white noise by using a ceiling fan or a cool mist humidifier. There are some fancy radios with different sounds you can try as well. You can also try playing soft music. I personally play a CD of classical music for my son. We dance through the first track and he knows this is his cue that he’ll be put into the crib. Once I start the CD and turn the light off, he immediately puts his head on my shoulder to rest. He loves this cuddle time and he always falls asleep with his music.

Do Babies Sleep Better in the Dark or Light?

Another tip is to determine whether your child sleeps better in the light or in the dark. You should always have a nightlight in a child’s room. It’s a safety measure as well as a comfort for some children. My daughter’s room has an adjustable nightlight because she likes it darker. My son sleeps better with more light so we have a dim lamp for him. Trying different levels of light might help you figure out what level works best for your child.

Should You Swaddle Your Baby?

You’ll also want to pay attention to how your child likes to be covered. Some babies enjoy being swaddled. It keeps them from moving around so much and waking themselves up. Some children prefer to be free from any confines. If your baby is always kicking off the covers or wiggling out of their swaddle, let them be free. If you are worried they’ll be cold, simply dress them in warmer pajamas. When they wake they should neither be sweaty nor cold, so be sure to pay attention to how they feel when you go to them and adjust their clothing accordingly.

Should You Follow a Sleep Schedule?

My final tip for this episode is about schedules. It’s a very simple tip to give, but can sometimes be hard to follow. The idea is to keep your child awake when you want him awake so that he’ll sleep when you want him to sleep. For example, if you want your child to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. and you know that he always falls asleep on a car ride, you may not want to be out running errands between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Try to schedule your child’s active times a couple hours before a nap or bedtime so that they have time to settle down before going to bed.[[AdMiddle]

As I said earlier, there are many more items to discuss in this topic so we will be talking about sleep issues in future episodes.

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed listening. May you sleep well and have sweet dreams!

The Mighty Mommy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips network, so be sure to check out other great shows like Legal Lad, and Grammar Girl at QuickAndDirtyTips.com.

This is your friend, the Mighty Mommy wishing you happy and fun parenting!

Sleeping Baby image from Shutterstock

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