Being parents is a unique and rewarding experience. There’s nothing comparable to holding your baby, feeding him or her, and watching them grow safe and sound. However, life as a parent is also a constant learning and effort to help their children be healthy and comfortable. One the main challenges a new parent faces is the baby’s sleep time.
It’s not a surprise that newborns need time to adapt to a sleeping scheduled. Babies can’t easily distinguish night from day. So, it’s common for them to have a sleeping pattern that differs from the parent’s. Babies sleep for periods of time around the clock. As babies grow, it’s the parents' responsibility to teach their child healthy sleeping habits.
However, this doesn’t come easy to all babies, and there can be many reasons why.
What are the reasons why my baby doesn’t sleep through the night?
Waking up during the night is more common than parents think. This can be caused by many different reasons. Inside the womb, babies can’t differentiate days from nights, so after birth, there’s no way for them to know which is which.
Newborns usually wake up every few hours. The reason behind this could be that your baby needs feeding, or maybe a diaper change. For older babies, teething can also be a reason for not getting a good night sleep.
The fact is, that as your baby grows up, it’s healthy to start establishing a sleeping pattern that helps him or her rest properly throughout the night.
Tips to help your baby sleep all night
If your baby has trouble sleeping at night, it’s important to get a medical opinion before trying any method. A pediatrician could help you identify a more serious issue that could be the cause for not sleeping properly. If your doctor has given you the green light to start sleep training your baby, then these tips might help. Keep in mind that these tips might not work for all babies since each one is unique.
Using light to program sleep
Humans sleep cycles are usually closely tied to light. The lack of light causes the segregation of melatonin, which is a hormone that is key for sleeping. So, to start regulating your baby’s sleep cycle, try keeping their days bright (even while napping, unless the baby has trouble sleeping then). On the contrary, during the night, try to keep your baby’s room as dark as possible.
This lighting different will start to induce sleep. Before bedtime approaches, start dimming the lights to create the correct mood for sleeping. Consider using dim lights or darkening shades to keep the light in the baby’s room under control.
White noise to soothe the baby
Using sounds to help babies sleeping is nothing new. White noise is another temporary option that parents have to help their babies sleep. This type of noise, which is made with sounds of different frequencies, it’s usually soothing. There are some machines specifically made for babies that play white noise.
When using white noise to help a baby sleep, it's recommended to put the machine at least 200 cm (7 feet) away from the crib and to be careful with the noise volume, so it doesn’t disturb the baby. Be aware that not all babies react well to these type of noises. Also, more than a solution, this is a temporary fix that shouldn’t become the norm, since babies can get used to the noise and if it’s missing, then they’ll have problems sleeping.
A warm bath before bedtime
Another method that might be worth trying is to give the baby a short, warm bath before bedtime. This requires to incorporate the night bath to the baby’s daily routine. Night time baths, along with a gentle massage and spending some quiet time with the baby, helps them sleep easily and improve the quality of their sleep time.
It’s good to notice, that one of the most important parts of this method is being consistent since through repetition the baby will associate the bath with bedtime. This will make falling asleep easier.
Use a sleep scale to know when to put your baby to bed
Babies need to learn how to soothe themselves to sleep. One of the ways you might help your baby achieve this is by putting him or her to bed before they fall asleep, just when they are drowsy. To do this, check your child’s sleep routine and learn to determine when he or she is fully awake and completely asleep. Assign the number 1 to the fully awake state, and the number 10 to the asleep state.
When your child is around a 7 or 8 in your personal sleep scale, then it’s time to go to bed! This will allow your baby to quiet down by himself or herself before sleeping.
If your baby is four months old or older, then you can start trying sleep training methods for babies. To do this, first, reinforce your baby’s bedtime routine. This could be having a warm bath, or even reading your baby a book or singing a lullaby. It’s also important to establish a bedtime and be consistent. It could also help to keep a daytime routine as well.
One of the most known methods for sleep training is the fading approach. It consists of diminishing the amount of time you spend with your baby at bedtime. You have to sit near your baby until he or she falls asleep. Gradually, move the chair you use farther away from the crib. You can check your baby every five minutes if he or she cries, but make sure to not pick him or her up. This will give your baby the time to figure out how to soothe himself or herself when going to bed.
Oompa Loompa sleep technique
This new method uses movement as a mechanism to help the baby to sleep. It consists on holding the baby under his or her arms, with your thumbs in the baby’s armpits. The rest of the fingers must be on the back of the baby’s head, supporting it. The baby must be placed over the knees, and then it must be rocked smoothly from one side to the other, and up and down while singing “Oompa Loompa” several times. Before trying this method it’s advisable to consult your pediatrician to clear any doubts, so you can softly rock your baby to sleep safely.
Tissue paper sleeping method
This method is quite easy. Place your baby in its crib and grab a tissue paper. Slide the tissue over your baby’s face softly several times. With some patience, and after a few minutes, your baby will start to doze off and will fall asleep.