It's not uncommon for babies to wake up many times at night. You may wish your baby could sleep longer and allow you to rest after an exhausting day. Their sleeping habits may be taking a toll on you, and you may need help to make your baby sleep longer at night.
There's no magic formula to changing your baby's sleep routine, especially at night. Luckily, you can take some steps to help them sleep through the night to help both of you rest better.
Develop a bedtime schedule and stick to it
It’s never too early to create a bedtime routine for your baby. However, it should be as simple as possible and sustainable. This way, it will be easy for you to do it every night. Even slight changes in the plan can create disruptions that may take time for your baby to adjust. They may suddenly start waking more frequently at night.
Some of the things to include in your sleep routine include soothing activities, calming, shushing, and swaddling if your baby enjoys it.
Let your baby soothe themselves to sleep
When your baby cries for you at night, it is okay to check up on them and change their diapers or feed them. However, limit the time you spend with them after you attend to them. Let them know that it is still nighttime and they should get back to sleep.
If the baby is still crying for your attention after feeding, place your hand on their chest for a moment to help them calm down and soothe themselves back to sleep. Leave their room or get away from their crib, ensuring they are sleeping on their back to avoid suffocation.
Gradually reduce the night feedings
Once your baby's pediatrician gives you the green light to start weaning your baby, ensure you do the same for the night feedings. Your baby probably associates sleep with feeding by this time because you used to feed them every time they woke up. This may make it hard to reduce the frequency of feeding, but stay firm in your resolve.
Slowly wean them off the night feeding, avoiding the temptation to feed them as frequently as you did before.
Babies, just like grown-ups, need to wind down. Create an atmosphere for sleeping a few minutes before bedtime. For example, put the volume of the TV or radio down, and put the lights in low mode 30 minutes before bedtime. This will help your baby’s internal clock sync with the environment, registering that it’s time to sleep.
Maintaining a calming ambiance is also crucial. The room should have a comfortable temperature and should stay dark. Consider adding some white noise for a consistently soothing sound to make them fall asleep sooner.
Put your baby to sleep early
There is a common belief that the earlier you go to bed, the earlier you will wake up. It may not always be the case, especially for infants and toddlers. Your baby will wake up less often and get more sleep when they sleep sooner. A good time to put your baby to sleep is as soon as the sun goes down. You can expect them to sleep for about 10 hours.
It will take effort, and constant repetition of the above tips to make your baby sleep longer at night. Don't give up. However, if the baby was sleeping through the night on their own and suddenly stopped, it could be a sign of a growth spurt or sleep regression.
Growth spurts last only a few days and the baby should be back to a regular pattern and sleep for longer. Sleep regression takes longer and lasts about four weeks. Be patient, and keep in mind that it won't last forever.
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Sleeping tips for babies
In addition to the above tips to make your baby sleep longer at night, ensure you:
- Position your baby on their back as they sleep to avoid suffocation.
- Put them on a firm sleeping surface.
- Remove everything else from the crib or bassinet, including pillows, toys, unfitted sheets, comforters, and bumper pads.
- Don't overdress your baby to avoid overheating.
- Keep your baby away from smokers. Second-hand smoke puts your baby at the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Let your baby sleep with a pacifier but don't force them to use it. If it falls off during sleep, you don't have to return it.
- Be on the lookout for other hazards that may wrap around your baby's necks, like ties, cords, or ribbons. Your baby's bed should also be away from draperies and window blinds.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing: “Getting your baby to sleep through the night: the good (and maybe not-so-good) news.”
Health and Human Services: “Sleep and settling model of care.”
Healthy Children: “Choking Prevention,” “Getting Your Baby to Sleep.”
John Hopkins Medicine: “The Importance of Sleep for Kids.”
Kids Health: “Sleep and Your 1- to 3-Month-Old.”
Raising Children: “Night weaning and phasing out night feeds: things to think about.”
Sleep Medicine Review: “Benefits of a bedtime routine in young children: Sleep, development, and beyond.”
Sleep.org: “Tested Tips to Help Your Baby Sleep Longer.”
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