Baby Sleep

Getting your infant to sleep like a baby

Becoming a parent means that you may sacrifice a lot of your former activities, but one thing that most parents hate to give up is their precious sleep! A new baby in the house means that you're probably not getting a lot of rest. Find out how to improve your baby's health and well-being by teaching him or her how to self-soothe and sleep longer.

Common Baby Sleep Problems

Sleep is not a state that you can force your child into, but you can promote good baby sleep habits by identifying potential sleep problems. Some problems include:

  • Excessive night-waking. Most newborns will wake up every two to three hours to eat, and babies between the ages of three months to a year may wake up once or twice a night, either to eat or because they haven't learned to put themselves back to sleep yet. If you find that your older baby is waking up too many times a night, try going in and patting baby's back without picking him or her up. You may also try night-weaning or putting baby to bed earlier. These techniques can promote proper infant sleep habits. Do not try any sleep training or cry-it-out techniques with a young baby, however.
  • Trouble falling asleep. Some babies have a hard time settling down when it's time to go to sleep. You can try signaling to baby that it's bedtime by establishing a bedtime ritual. Give baby a warm bath, followed by cuddles, followed by a feeding (breast or bottle), and then place baby in the crib or bassinet. Routine is extremely important to babies.
  • Poor sleep / restlessness. Sometimes, babies have trouble falling into the proper cycles of sleep because there's something uncomfortable in their environment. Remove all airborne irritants, noise and uncomfortable bedding from baby's room. Make sure that baby's nose is clear and that any teething pain has been properly addressed with an approved analgesic. Sometimes, holding your baby on your chest for naps will help him or her relax and feel more secure during sleep.

Infants are well-known for their "sleeping gymnastics" — sometimes you can put your little one down for a nap in one part of the crib and find him or her an hour later with legs sticking through the bars and head under the blanket! If this is the case, then it doesn't matter what position you place your baby in to sleep.

Young babies, however, don't move much and should be placed on their backs to sleep. This reduces the likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Also, avoid the use of baby sleep pillows or crib bumpers to lessen the risk of suffocation.

It can be a hard road to teach baby to fall asleep and stay asleep, but take heart — like all baby developmental stages, this too shall pass, and you'll be able to return to your blissful eight hours a night once more.

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