Before I start telling you how to get your baby to sleep, this is our story. Prior to our baby’s arrival, we thought we had it mentally prepared. After all, friends and families did not hold back their horror stories. They warned us…the first month or more will be a test of our mental strength. Baby will wake up once every 2 hours and therefore you guys better stock up on chicken essence, coffee, Red Bull. Or maybe take all three…
True to their words, our baby was active throughout the night and after the first 3 weeks, I was looking more haggard than ever before since we were basically doing 24 hour shift together.
Thankfully, this did not continue into the latter months. In fact, by the start of the 5th week, our baby was sleeping soundly throughout the night, without the aid of any pacifier. She did not wake up for milk and 10 – 11 hours sleeping stretch from 11 pm to 9/10 am the following morning became the norm. Everywhere we share this experience, friends marvelled at it and wonder what secret formula we have concocted.
Hey, we are no magicians but here’s a list of things we did and they have been highly effective.
Getting your baby to sleep through the night is probably among the top 3 on any parent’s wish list.
Yet it can be a daunting task for some. We have friends whose baby continues to wake up two to three times during the night, crying for milk even after 1 year old. While this would be normal for the first month or so, if you find your baby waking up several times throughout the night consistently, this may be something you want to fix quickly.
Usually, the issue has to do with habit and once you manage to instil the habit in your baby, they will sleep soundly throughout the night.
We find the following methods work well and you can consider using all or a combination.
1. Keep Baby Active During Day Time
If your baby sleeps a lot during the day, there is a chance they will find it difficult to settle down at night. However, your baby will sleep whenever they are comfortable to do so, be it on their baby crib, on the stroller or car seat. It is really hard (impossible is probably the word!) to control their sleeping time. The general guideline is not to let your baby nap beyond two hours in one stretch. Usually, during the day, they may doze off for a while (30-60 mins) after each feeding.
2. Keep Baby Well-Fed
We also noted from experience a hungry baby is an agitated baby. With bottle feeding, you can monitor how much breast/formula milk your baby has taken in and make sure her last meal of the day fulfils the necessary quota for the day. It is an interesting reference but our baby won’t sleep even if she is slightly under fed. We are talking about 10-20 ml less. So, we quickly learn that it’s best to feed her sufficiently.
How much is considered sufficient? This differs from baby to baby, even if they are of the same age. Ours’ is a slightly heavy eater and can handle 800 ml of milk for a single day from her 3rd month onwards.
Keeping her well fed also ensures she won’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night looking for a snack, and we are pleased that she sleeps throughout the night for a solid 8 hours at least.
3. A Good Bath
We didn’t do this for our baby but some friends are advocating this as they found it highly effective. Essentially, it is to give the baby a warm bath just right before settling them for the night. A warm bath makes the baby comfortable, and if you do it daily prior to settling her in the crib, your baby will gradually accept that it is time for bed.
4. Create a Quieter Environment in the Evening
If you are playing with your baby in the evening, it may be difficult for them to settle down as they are excited by all the activity. 1 – 2 hours before settling down your baby, you want to keep activities down and adjust for a calmer environment.
5. Lights Out
Turning off the lights is a good way to get your baby to relax and settle down. Some babies cry immediately when the lights go off suddenly. If this is so, try dimming your lights or switching to a desk lamp can help in the transition.
Except for the warm bath towards the end of the day, we practised the other 4 methods and they work really well. Our baby is able to sleep by 11 pm daily and wakes up around 730 am in the morning.
What if you do all the above and it still doesn’t work?
Here are some additional tips, which I consider as my final resort (when all else fails).
- You can hold the baby in your arms and walk around. There is no doubt the human cradle (‘arms’) form the best crib for any baby. My baby will just doze off if I held her in my arms and walk around for a bit. Baby goes to sleep and your biceps become more defined over time. Win-win!
- Push her around in her stroller. Strange as it may sound, this somehow works very well, without you bearing the weight of your little one in your arms.
For the above two ways, the key is to let your baby fall into a deeper sleep before removing her from the stroller or your arms back to the crib. If the baby is not deep in sleep, any slight movement can startle her and you would have to start from scratch. 🙁
- With baby on the crib, hold both her hands gently to the sides of her body. This helps the baby to calm down. We usually do this with the lights off. As an added measure, you can also use the pacifier if she is trying to suck something (by default, it’s her fingers!)
Helping your baby to sleep well at night is of paramount importance to the baby’s well being, and for the parents as well. It helps the baby to develop better especially in the earlier formative months. The methods mentioned in this article are well tested by ourselves and the families we spoke to. In the end, humans are creatures of habit and getting your baby to sleep at preset timings and throughout the night is about establishing the habit of doing so. While such a habit takes time to solidify, once it’s habitualised, parenting will become less of a burden, and more of a joy.
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or need any help. We will try to get back to you at the very soonest.