Getting Your Baby to Sleep
It is natural for new parents to think a lot about their baby’s sleep needs, patterns and routines. All babies need to be placed on their backs for sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS. Of course, every baby is different and some babies settle better than others based upon many factors. Generally, newborns do not sleep for any long period of time because their tummies are so small and they get hungry. They wake up to feed and to be soothed. With these youngest of babies, up to six months (before eating solid food), it is critical that you respond to their cries quickly. Receiving this kind of nurture helps the baby establish both basic trust that you will meet their basic needs. This is critical to developing a secure parent-infant bond.
Parents often get exhausted and want to take action to get the baby to sleep. There is a lot of advice on this subject! One well-known approach, developed by pediatric sleep expert, Richard Ferber, uses a controlled crying method. Although this approach, which advocates letting the baby cry at intervals, usually works, it is controversial. There is sufficient brain research to suggest that baby’s brain is not sufficiently developed to understand why he is being left alone with no comfort, which can be emotionally traumatizing to him. I join the ranks of other sleep experts, William Sears, Pinkie Mc Kay and Elizabeth Pantley, who follow a gentler approach to getting the baby and toddler to sleep.
Here are some helpful sleep tips:
- Swaddle your newborn and try using a sleep sack with older babies.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine by the time your baby is six to nine months old (may vary according to your baby’s development).
- Provide a relaxing, winding down period at least 45 minutes before bedtime.
- Create a bedtime ritual with bath and story.
- Give opportunities for the older infant and toddler to learn to self soothe while still awake.
- Relax with your child by talking softly, singing lullabies and using gentle touch.
For good advice on sleep issues, read The No-Cry Sleep Solution, by Elizabeth Pantley and William Sears.
Sweet dreams to you and your baby!