One of the most frequent topics of conversations in any baby group online is how to get your precious bundle of joy to sleep properly.
This is not at all surprising. If your baby doesn’t get sufficient sleep, it’s highly likely that you and your partner will suffer from the same lack of proper rest yourselves.
It can also be incredibly frustrating since you feel helpless to do anything to ease your newborn towards dreamland.
We’ll look here at of the most common issues faced by parents the world over when it comes to getting their baby into a healthy sleep pattern. We will also offer some advice on how to improve this.
Why Do Babies Struggle With Sleep?
There are two types of sleep we all experience during the night:
- Active Dreaming Sleep
- Quiet Sleep
Babies are no different except in the amount of time it takes them to go through these sleep cycles. While adults take around two hours to plod through a single sleep cycle of each type, a baby zooms through them in only half that time.
It’s when we are between cycles that we’re prone to waking so, if it seems like your baby is waking every hour, he probably is. That’s only natural and nothing to worry about. It’s inconvenient, sure, but perfectly healthy.
What are the most frequent issues when it comes to baby’s bedtime and how can you solve them?
1) Overstimulation Before Bedtime
Imagine for a moment that you’ve just got home from a long day at work…
You naturally want to spend as much time as possible with your baby and it’s tempting to start playing with them.
In fact, you can’t resist! Next thing you know, you have your baby in your arms jiggling him around.
This is precisely what you do not want to do when bedtime is looming.
Both physical movement and too much verbal interaction will excite your baby and cause him to become overtired.
- What To Do? Try to avoid this sort of excessive stimulation in the run-up to bedtime. A 2004 study by DG Glaze suggests that you should aim for calm and quiet in the 2 or 3 hours before putting your baby to bed
2) Are You Too Quick To Intervene?
You all know the feeling of relaxing to start enjoying your evening when you hear noises from your baby…
What do you do?
Do you instantly jump up and investigate?
If so, it’s worth bearing in mind that babies often make noises or even cry when they are still asleep or, at most, only slightly aroused. It’s not uncommon for them to make noises even when they are in a deep sleep cycle.
While you are doing what comes naturally and trying to help, you could just make matters worse.
- What To Do? Give your baby a few minutes to settle rather than immediately jumping to action. This is hard but you really do need a little discipline. Resist the temptation to intervene too quickly and you might just do yourself and your baby a favor
3) Baby Is Going To Bed Too Early
Babies certainly sleep a lot but it’s all too easy to overestimate just how much rest they need.
If you detect that your baby is finding it difficult to drop off, think about the time you are tucking them up.
- What To Do? The solution is simple… Stave off putting your baby to bed until he is really tired
4) Baby Is Going To Bed Too Late
Sometimes, as a baby goes past the point of sleepiness he becomes overtired.
If you fail to get your infant to wind down and edge towards bed, he might get a second wind and wake right up again.
Although it’s a fine balancing act and you don’t want to try forcing sleep too early, it’s equally damaging to keep your tiny tot awake when he should be slumbering.
- What To Do? Aim for an earlier bedtime. It also pays to really work on a nice, soothing routine to encourage your baby to wind down and ease towards sleep
5) Does Your Baby Have a Regular Bedtime?
Linked to the above issues is the idea of consistency in your baby’s nocturnal routine.
Babies need to become slowly accustomed to daily rhythms and if their bedtime is all over the place, it can affect them in a similar way to jetlag in adults.
This is not to say than an hour difference here and there will be a problem, we’re talking about more extreme disruption than that.
It can become a vicious circle with your baby waking at different times and struggling with circadian rhythms, napping to make up for this and then struggling to sleep again that night…
- What To Do? Try to eliminate excessive naps. There’s no need to be absolutely rigid but a similar routine at roughly the same time leading to bed will almost certainly help your baby to sleep better
With a calm and gentle bedtime routine established and maintained, your baby will benefit and so will you.
Your baby should enjoy going to bed and you should have fun tucking them up. Go heavy on the kisses and cuddles but light on the excitement and your baby will thank you for it.