One of the most difficult challenges confronting first-time moms is to get baby to sleep through the night. There are a number of reasons why babies wake up through the night. They may need to be fed; they may want to be comforted by you, need a change of diaper or has teething or tummy pain. If your baby wakes up after every few hours during the night this may disturb your own sleep cycle which will make you end up feeling lethargic, sleepy and tired. This can negatively affect your functionality and make you depressed. Getting your newborn to sleep longer stretches at night is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of trial and error to find out which technique will work for your baby.
Below are 10 strategies to get your baby to sleep through the night.
1) Teach your baby the difference between day and night by playing with them during the day.
Keep it lively and fun during the day. Open the curtains and windows to let sunlight reach your house. Interact with your baby as much as possible and as soon as night falls, keep your interaction to the minimum. Keep their nighttime feedings quiet, calm and peaceful. This will help you in setting your baby’s body clock and they will learn the difference between day and night i.e. daytime is fun and playtime whereas night time is for sleep.
2) Try to make babies fall asleep on their own.
You can start this as early as six weeks, as during this time baby’s sleep-wake cycle starts to develop. During this age put your baby down on their back in their crib when they are drowsy but still awake and let them fall asleep on their own. Rocking or feeding baby to sleep will make them dependent on it and it will become hard for you to get them to sleep without it. Remember to put your baby to sleep on their back in the crib and make sure the sheets are nicely fitted and remove any toys or blankets in there before putting your baby in there. This will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
3) Set a simple and easy to follow a bedtime routine.
Follow it regularly and consistently so that the baby can learn that it’s time to sleep. You can start by reducing all the sounds and turning off the lights, which may stimulate your baby, as the night falls, after that, give them a nice and warm bath to induce drowsiness, dress them appropriately for the night, sing a lullaby or read a story if you want to or give them a soothing, nighttime massage and then feed them before putting them down for sleep in their crib.
4) Try a controlled crying method if you think your baby is ready for it.
This method involves leaving your baby for a few minutes before returning to their side, to reassure them that you have not left them, but extending the time you leave between each visit. According to experts, starting with 2 minutes and then gradually working your way up to 10 minutes interval will help. It can be hard to leave your baby crying but don’t worry. A lot of research has been conducted on this method and it has been seen that it doesn’t cause any harm to baby, though it does help them to sleep as they become tired after a crying spell.
5) Swaddle your baby before putting them to sleep.
Babies are born with startle reflex which makes them feel like they are falling. This causes them to wake up during the night. Swaddling suppresses this reflux and lets your baby sleep peacefully. Play white noise when you are putting them down for sleep.
6) Limit the duration of daytime naps.
Sleeping longer stretches during the day will keep your baby awake during the night. So, if your baby’s nap extends to 2-2.5 hours, wake them up and play with them.
7) Change your baby’s diaper before their nighttime feeding session.
If you change it after their feeding session then the baby may become too awake and thus making it difficult for you to get them to sleep on time. If your newborn poops during every feed (like most newborns do) then certainly, change their diaper right after they have finished their feed. Once your baby’s digestive system matures, they will stop pooping after every session. Then you can go back to change their diaper before their final night time feed.
8) Pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues and act upon them before your baby gets overtired.
These cues include; rubbing eyes, yawning, glossy eyes, losing interest in other activities and crying. Keeping baby awake in hopes of tiring them to keep them asleep longer will not work, in fact, it will backfire. This will result in over-stimulation and the baby will face difficulty in falling asleep and staying asleep. An overtired baby will likely sleep shorter not longer.
9) Don’t rush in when you hear your baby’s cry.
Give baby some time and see if they will fall asleep on their own because often babies wake up, cry or make some noise and then go right back to sleep. So, don’t rush in and disturb this process in order to let your baby sleep better.
10) Growth spurt or sleep regression.
If your baby was sleeping through the night before and has suddenly stopped, then it might be due to growth spurt or sleep regression. Growth spurts are short-lived so, wait for a few days, your baby will return to normal patterns. Whereas, a regression can last anywhere between 1 to 4 weeks. During this time be patient and focus on the fact that it is short-lived.
Above are 10 strategies to get your baby to sleep through the night by 3 months. Sleepless nights are a rite of passage for new parents but don’t worry. You can help your baby sleep through the night by following the tips mentioned above. If none of these tips seem to be working on your baby then hang on and persevere. Your baby will learn to sleep through the night on their own. Eventually.