Making use of these helpful tips will help teach your baby to fall asleep and ideally sleep through the night. Some of these techniques might sound a little unconventional, but if you decide to give them a try and they do work for you, then you will end up saving yourself a lot of effort in future and be able to enjoy a good night’s rest yourself.
There are a lot of techniques available today that can guide you and your baby to a peaceful and relaxing bedtime routine, while bonding at the same time.
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Buying the right mattress
When buying a baby mattress, look for foam mattresses that are firm, resilient when you press your hand on them and are a bit on the heavier side.
When a mattress is too soft, it can conform to a baby’s shape and create a risk for sudden infant syndrome (SIDS) or suffocation.
Wake your baby when you put her down to sleep
Most babies or new-born babies will cry when they are sleepy, and you are putting them down to sleep.
Babies know that your arms provide that safe place. There is nothing wrong with comforting your baby to sleep.
The trick is to jostle her a bit when you put her down to sleep and wake her just slightly. Include this technique a part of the process of getting her to sleep.
By waking her just slightly when putting her down, you are teaching her that it’s safe when she finds herself half-asleep in the cot to fall back asleep again.
It will be hard in the beginning. When she cries, gently pats her or even pick her up when necessary. More and more she will shut her eyes and go back to sleep which is the ultimate goal. This important skill teaches her to begin putting herself back to sleep at night.
Help your baby to fall asleep by lying still in your arms
Getting a baby to fall asleep without rocking is the next step.
You begin with rocking and just before she falls asleep, you stop rocking and just remain still while holding her.
When she protests, start rocking again.
Keep repeating this technique.
Eventually she will fall asleep without you having to rock her.
Break the association between nursing or sucking and sleep
Once a baby gets used to sucking or feeding for her to fall asleep, then she will always have to wake you up to assist in getting her to fall back asleep at night.
Gradually break the association between sucking and falling asleep.
Please note: this should only be done when your baby is a few months old, nursing and feeding well. Never withhold food from a hungry baby. When you rock your baby and she is still crying and fussing, then she might be hungry and tired.
Help your baby to fall asleep in her bed
The next technique is to hold your baby still in your arms in the sleeping position (on her back). Wait until she is almost asleep and not protesting.
If she protests, rock her in your arms as she falls asleep and then lower her gently into the cot or bed. When she protests, pick her up again, rock again and stop. Keep repeating this even if it takes a few attempts. Eventually she will let you put her in her bed without protest.
Touch instead of holding
If you have mastered the previous four steps, then you are ready to try this technique. Instead of holding your baby while she falls asleep, simply hold her hand or putting your hand on her forehead.
Follow this routine every night until she gets used to it:
Getting sleepy rocking
Put her in bed lying on her back while touching her forehead or holding her hand
Shushing/patting sleep training technique
This technique is used to calm your baby when she is crying. The idea is to make a shushing noise which mimics the white noise associated when baby was still in your womb, while patting her gently or leaving your hand on your back. This lets her know that you’re not leaving and that you are there. This technique is great for when you don’t want to pick your baby up but teach her how to self-settle.
The end goal of these steps: you have a baby who can be put down in her crib awake, who can fall asleep on her own.
Set predictable day/night routines
Expose baby to light during the day and darkness at night. This will enable your baby to develop circadian rhythms and sleep more during the night. Getting sunshine and fresh air during the day is good for babies and parents. Having a consistent bedtime routine of receiving a bath, massage and snuggles every night will help your baby to fall asleep quicker and sleep for longer.
Being emotionally available at bedtime
An emotionally available parent is re-assuring, making a baby feel safe, even when saying goodnight is difficult.
Being emotionally available is making use of the following four characteristics:
Sensitivity: affectively attuned to your baby’s cues or signs when tired, interpreting them correctly and responding appropriately and contingently.
Structuring: preparing your infant for bedtime while making use of quiet, soothing and positive bedtime routines that gently guides baby to dreamland.
Nonintrusive: by recognizing your baby’s need for sleep and act accordingly, avoiding high-volume, intrusive talk or initiating new interactions.
Nonhostile: showing no irritability or anger towards your baby at any point during bedtime.
Every baby is different and what works for your baby might not necessarily work for the next one.
Trying different techniques and establishing a soothing bedtime routine is key when you’re trying to get your baby to fall asleep.
Making use of these gentle sleeping training methods will take some time, consistency and commitment.
Bedtime should be a calm, relaxing opportunity for you and your child to connect while teaching them to self-soothe and fall asleep on their own.