How do I get my baby to sleep? Guidelines and advice
The most common complaint of parents when they have a baby is the lack of sleep . The baby’s sleep and above all the lack of sleep caused by sleepless nights ends up seriously affecting the parents.
And it is a fish that bites its own tail: the baby does not sleep and the parents are sleepy, more nervous, tired and with little patience, this is detected by the baby and affects him directly in his sleep.
How do you get a baby to sleep peacefully?
Much has been written on the subject, there are many different theories of how parents should act and some of them contradict each other . But what they all agree on is that the important thing is that the baby acquires good sleeping habits.
What does this mean? Basically we could sum it up by setting a good routine and building up patience.
Sleep habits in newborns
Whether the baby learns to sleep well will depend on the parents . Before giving some advice we should know that little ones need many hours of rest to recover all the energy they invest in their rapid growth.
When the baby is born, he will need to sleep between 15 and 22 hours. It is almost the whole day, it is clear that it is an indispensable part for its development and therefore parents must help it to be carried out in the best possible way and understanding that it is a basic process for the baby’s health.
Three keys to good sleep for a baby
There are three points to keep in mind when trying to get babies properly rested.
1. The sleeping space
Studies indicate that children who sleep in rooms separate from their parents sleep more , wake up less, have less difficulty falling asleep and fall asleep earlier. There are also theories that say the opposite… In any case, we must take advantage of the baby’s natural need to sleep and enhance it. In other words, when we see that the baby starts to show signs of fatigue, we must take the opportunity to create an environment conducive to sleep and avoid interruptions.
Babies are not born knowing how to sleep . Like the rest of the skills, they acquire them through learning. In other words: that sleeping well is a skill that parents should teach their children.
3. The parents’ rest
If the parents are tired, they will be less patient and the baby will notice it and it will directly affect their sleep , and as we said at the beginning, here is the fish that bites its own tail. Parents should also acquire some rest guidelines. Take advantage of the time the baby sleeps to disconnect. This does not mean taking advantage of this time for housework or answering the phone or working. It means resting: sleeping, taking a bath, going to the gym, going for a walk… in short, disconnecting from the baby in order to be able to attend to him/her with renewed energy.
Parents are responsible for their baby’s peace of mind
In order to get through this initial period for children , it is important that parents understand that they are the baby’s immediate references : everything they do and how they feel affects the child and his behaviour. When parents are nervous, the baby is nervous, when parents are calm and stable, children tend to have fewer problems of lack of sleep, uncontrollable crying, etc.
Babies cry, this is inevitable because this is the way they communicate, when they are hungry they cry, when they are in pain they cry, when they are restless they cry, when they want attention they cry … if they could talk they would. That is why it is important for parents to be clear about this and not to get angry or worry too much when their child cries all night long.
One of the attitudes of parents that often makes the situation worse is when the baby cries non-stop, they get nervous, tense and lose patience. As we said before, the baby absorbs everything around it. If the parent holds him or her and becomes desperate or angry, the baby will do the same, spreading his or her anxiety. Therefore, the sleepless nights that worry so much are usually due to the attitudes of the parents. The best thing to do when you feel this way is to leave the room, take a deep breath, calm down, and return to your baby when your attitude is calm.
If the baby cries, should we go immediately, or not?
Another controversial point in the sleep of babies is whether we should attend to them immediately or not . It seems obvious that we don’t. If the little one really doesn’t need anything, all he does is test the parents. If he cries and they quickly come to show their affection, the baby learns that he should cry. We are reinforcing that behavior. Today with the means we have from another room we can make sure that the baby is okay and that we don’t have to go. If he really has nothing, and is only getting the parents’ attention, the crying will stop and he will learn that crying does not get instant attention from his parents.
Returning to patience, it is important to give the baby time . As we have said, the little one is not born taught, he must be oriented. When the parents try to put the baby to sleep, they should do so by following a routine, maintaining a relaxed atmosphere, talking to the baby in a gentle way, in a dim light… the important thing is that the baby feels accompanied during the process. What usually works when the child does not “know how to stop” is to distract him, make noises, show him objects that call his attention, get him out of the room where he is… get the baby to open his eyes and attend to something else.
Pacifier: yes or no?
Another topic of discussion is the pacifier. There are those who insist on its usefulness and those who blame it for all the problems .
Every baby is different. It may help some to calm down and others to reject it. Some may be helped to sleep and others may be awakened when they drop it. It’s neither bad nor good – it’s a choice parents can make as they see fit. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that the use of the pacifier avoids sudden death, which is one of the biggest fears of parents .
Relaxing baths, a good prelude to sleep
One point where all the theories seem to agree is in the baby’s bath. The routine of bathing relaxes the baby and the parents , therefore, the habit of bathing the baby before going to bed will play in favour of rest.
Tips for when the child is growing up
As the baby grows, he will need less sleep and it will be very important that parents include the day/night distinction in their learning . Stimulate him during the day and encourage him to be calm at night. Little by little the baby will acquire a routine similar to that of the parents. And he must learn that it is at night that he must sleep.
Nowadays, different techniques have become fashionable for relaxing the baby: putting on music, giving massages, doing exercises, yoga… Any of these options seems right to us because what it promotes is relaxation and tranquility around the baby and this is always good.
Guidelines for Teaching Babies to Sleep
Here are some guidelines for teaching babies to sleep.
- Remember that it will always be the parents and the baby’s environment that will decide how the baby will behave.
- It is not worth blaming the little ones , they have just arrived in this world and it is the parents who must teach them how to behave.
- Acquire good sleep habits : this will avoid childhood disorders such as insomnia.
- Establishing a routine : as in all areas of development, during childhood routine is indispensable for guiding learning. Fulfilling certain schedules, certain steps, establishing certain spaces defined for each activity,…
- Parents must help and teach babies the ability to sleep : children absorb everything from their parents, are born without knowing and learn from those closest to them, the parents.
- It is important for parents to rest : they should disconnect, take advantage of the “free” time to rest and recover energy.
- Take advantage of baby’s need for rest: be attentive and encourage the moments when baby shows the desire to sleep to establish the appropriate environment that reinforces it.
- Tranquility, patience and calm : what babies perceive most is the attitude of their parents. This should be one of calm and tranquillity. In times of stress or tiredness, parents must be patient.
- Distracting the baby : when the baby starts crying for no reason and we cannot calm him down, one option is to distract him, with noises or objects that take his attention away from the crying.
- The relaxing bath : setting the bath routine before putting the baby to bed will increase its relaxation.
- Day/night distinction : in order for the baby to acquire the habits of adults, it must learn to distinguish day from night. Stimulate him with activities during the day and encourage calm and relaxation at night.