Once the days of irregular sleep during pregnancy are over and the baby has arrived, the next onslaught on your sleep begins, thanks to your new-born baby who is yet to understand and develop a sleep pattern. Most new parents find that feeding works best when it comes to putting baby to sleep. While it may be the most effective, it is also highly controversial, as your baby may eventually associate feeding with sleeping or may choke on undigested milk while it’s laying down. It may also make it difficult to put the baby to sleep if the mom is not around.
Therefore, it’s important for the baby’s all-round development to create multiple ways to help it fall asleep. Here are 8 hacks that will help you create an environment that instantly relaxes both you and your baby.
Snugly wrapping the baby in a muslin cloth to pacify it or help it fall asleep is also known as swaddling. For a new born baby, being swaddled is as comforting as it gets. Swaddling comforts your new born by mimicking the warmth of the womb, lulling them to sleep faster. However, it is important to note that an infant should only be swaddled till it is able to roll over on its own. Once the baby starts rolling over, being swaddled limits its movements, leading it to fall asleep in an uncomfortable position. Often, this also causes restricted airways, which can be very fatal for the baby.
Image reference: http://www.bertiesblankets.com
Every infant is different, but most studies suggest that a baby is most comfortable when your room temperature is between 20–22.2°C. Most parents also make the mistake of over swaddling which increases the baby’s temperature and makes them uncomfortable. It is also important to make sure to keep your baby out of the direct path of air conditioners or heating vents, since sudden changes in temperature can, not only disturb its sleep but also affect its health.
Make sure your baby’s sleep area is decluttered and distraction free! Having stimulating toys hanging above and around your baby can confuse them, disrupting sleep patterns. Make sure to clear away any stuffed toys and bright objects from around the crib. It is also important to make sure that you place your baby flat on its back, on a firm mattress, to reduce the danger of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – where a seemingly healthy baby less than a year-old dies in its sleep due to unexplained reasons). Make sure the blankets are firmly tucked in and there is no loose bedding.
To soothe your baby to sleep, there is nothing better than a soft soothing hum or whispering your baby to sleep. But let’s face it, you can’t do that all day everyday to ensure your baby stays asleep! Instead, make use of white noise machines to help soothe your baby.
To your baby, bright lights signify daytime and thus it is more difficult for them to fall asleep. Your baby is not likely to fear the dark up until 18 – 20 months, so try to eliminate all light as far as possible, including nightlights. When your baby wakes up to feed in the middle of the night, use a dim light that can be turned on gradually so as to not startle them out of their sleep.
Keeping your baby’s sleeping environment consistent is key! We have already talked about maintaining a constant temperature. Other than that, it is important to maintain dim lighting, familiar space and sounds day after day. Consistent sounds and a familiar sleeping area will ensure that your baby is programmed to fall asleep faster. Even when they wake up to feed, don’t talk to them, turn on the light or sing to them as this can get them out of their sleep. Try to put the baby to sleep doing the same thing at the same time every day to build a habit in them.
It is important to put your baby down for a nap regularly; this helps them fall asleep faster at night. However, it is important to make sure that your baby doesn’t nap for more than 3 hours at a time, during the day, as this will keep them up till all odd hours of the night.
Of course, this will take a while to show results, but it is what will work in the long run. Make sure to put your baby to bed when they are sleepy but still awake. Start doing this early on, so your baby learns to put themselves to sleep. If the baby wakes up crying in the middle of the night, don’t pick it up fully. Instead, just pat their belly and hush them gently until they’re quiet. Allow them to self-soothe themselves back to sleep or you’ll end up spending a lot of time in the middle of the night trying to put them back to sleep.
As a new parent, it is important to note that sometimes chronic sleeplessness is a sign that your baby is teething or has another medical issue like a tummy ache or ear infection. Watch out for these signs and talk to your paediatrician for the best course of action. Got any questions related to conception, , life post-partum and more? Let us know in the comments!