The arrival of a baby is inarguably the best event in our lives. They bring joy and happiness and add many new characteristics to our lives.
But there is a slight turn-around in the story at the onset of night: the baby won’t sleep! Come on, you at least need the night’s sleep to get over your daily exhaustion. But how?
Although it isn’t very simple, it’s possible. Unlike us, newborns don’t have sleep patterns. But they can be made to.
But first, you need to ensure that your baby is at the stage where they’re capable of sleeping through the night. As you may read in our newborn baby sleep schedules, babies under 2 months of age shouldn’t sleep for more than 4 hours at stretch. So they wake up in the middle of the night just like they do in between day naps. As the child grows, this duration also increases and they move closer to sleeping all night. Although they’re still prone to awakening at night due to separation anxiety, colic, certain irritants, wetness, hunger, an illness, or perhaps for no reason at all. And if your baby keeps waking up for no apparent reason, a solution can be worked out.
Here are a few tips that can help you get your newborn to sleep through the night:
1. Create a Bedtime Routine
By the time your sweet pea is 2 months old, you will notice a lot of patterns. Which room or mattress they’re more comfortable in, what time they begin to feel sleepy at night, and their drowsy face. You will also know where your baby is comfortable sleeping away from or closer to you. The distance is especially to be taken care of so the child doesn’t suffer from separation anxiety at night.
In our newborn sleep schedule for 0 to 6 weeks, we’ve mentioned that mothers should start creating a bedtime routine for their babies. For example, your bedtime routine could include turning off lights and swaddling, massaging and singing them their favourite lullaby every night.
Over time, infants realize and start acknowledging nights as sleeping time. They will know that they’re not expected to be playful and get into a habit of sleeping. They’ll also start attempting to sleep without your assistance, which is a huge blessing in disguise. Once they learn how to soothe themselves, they’ll also begin to sleep longer at night.
2. Follow Sleep Schedules
Following sleep schedules since the beginning may not ensure a full night’s sleep in the first 1-2 months, but it will definitely help your little bundle of joy to start sleeping more at night. Newborn sleep schedules help babies to get habituated to proper sleeping patterns. They might still wake up at night as their sleep spans are short, but it will get better with time. As they grow older, their night sleeping time will increase, as will yours.
Check out our newborn baby sleep schedules according to your child’s age to get deeper insights.
3. Wean Night Feedings
Imagine you’re given a sum of money as a reward every time you wake up in the middle of the night! (Where’s my reward?!)
Newborns have nothing to do with money, but milk… you know better! All they do is feed on milk, whether the mother’s or a formula. Everytime you feed to soothe them (it might seem to be the only option when the only reward for your body is hitting the bed), they get used to it. This is the last thing you would want. It will become a habit that is really hard to get over. Start weaning night feedings as soon as they’re 2-3 months old so they start to sleep longer at night.
Another thing: you do not want to feed them to sleep even at bedtime. Although this doesn’t mean they’re going to sleep on an empty stomach. The thing is to not use feeding as a resort to making them fall asleep.
Put them to bed before they’re fully sleepy, that is, when the first signs of drowsiness show up. This way, they’ll learn to soothe themselves and sleep without a reward. They’ll know that their mamma (or anybody else) is not going to wait till they sleep. You’ll have a feeling of achievement when your little monkey starts going to sleep without you rocking him/her!
4. The Let Them Cry-it-Out Method
The ‘cry it out’ or ‘extinction’ method is quite a popular advice that circulates between parents and families. But does it really work? There is some research that indeed suggests its functioning. But there are many experts and doctors who advise against it.
This method may also be of no help in case your child has colic, which usually has no apparent reason. Letting them crying it out would be futile then.
Also, when your baby is awakened by something best known to just them and starts crying inconsolably, it’s seriously very hard to let them just be. Leaving a baby crying on the top of their lungs is definitely one of the most difficult things to do. You may never gather the courage for this harsh parenthood. The best in that case is to not set any restrictions and step up to comfort them.
5. Use a White Noise Device
How do you imagine a mom’s womb to be? Dark and cozy… silent?
Dark and cozy, yes; but silent, it is not. You don’t spend your pregnancy months in silence; you continue to do your daily chores, meet people, visit noisy places… So the baby gets adapted to all this background noise. They listen to both you and the world. And when they come out, we start sushing everybody up, “Shh… she’s sleeping.” “Shh! He’ll wake up!”
When actually, your newborn will sleep better with some constant background ‘white’ noise. It can also act as a blocker for other household noises, like that of an older sibling. For example, a creaking window or a noisy fan. Many parents leave the TV, radio or phone on, playing constant music or sounds while their baby sleeps. If you aren’t comfortable with these, you can go for some fancy white noise machines that serve the same purpose.
You can also find some interesting white noise, including simulations of mother’s heartbeat, falling rain, etc. on the internet.
6. Not Giving Into Nighttime Tantrums
Ahh… The important part. Your baby may wake you up in the middle of the night. They may be wanting their night feeding or simply to play with you. If you start feeding or playing with them, they’ll never know that nights aren’t for playing or feeding – or whatever it is that your child wants. They’ve just been born after all; they don’t understand between right and wrong and night and day. It is therefore important that you don’t give into their nighttime tantrums. Let them keep asking for it. They’ll eventually get over their habits.
However, some babies are stubborn; they will do their best to get what they want. But it’s with these babies that mothers need to be extra careful with. Try conditioning them to fall back asleep, not wake up. Comfort them but not by not giving them what they want. They’ll definitely get better with time.
Also, when you find your little one getting fidgety at night, you might want to run and check on them. Babies, however, fall back asleep if left unattended. If there’s nothing that might need urgent attention, you should better not pay a heed. You can observe them from a distance and rest assured that they’ll go back to sleeping very soon. As time passes, you’ll know when and if you need to respond to your baby’s awakening.
7. Comfy Clothes and Environment
Dim the lights and ensure that the room’s temperature is optimal: 18-22° C and static and there’s no possible allergen or irritant present. Please also ensure that there’s nothing that they’re directly in contact with or that there’s nothing that can tangle with them, fall on them or roll over to them.
You may wrap them in a comfy swaddle made of a natural fabric so they can sleep cozily through the night without any irritation. Research has found that swaddling helps babies sleep longer and reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You do not want to miss that. Include swaddling in your newborn’s bedtime routine, it will help you big time!
Each infant is new and unique. They all have similar basic requirements: sleep, milk, natural, non-toxic clothes, and a lot of love, care, and attention. You may be feeling deprived of sleep but on the greener side, it’s only a matter of a couple of weeks. Your tiny moonpie will grow bigger and naughtier sooner than you think and your dream of sleeping through the night will also come true. Don’t give up, keep sleep training your little one, it will reward you every possible way in the blink of an eye.
If you’ve tried everything and you see no change in the fussiness of your newborn, it’s better to check with your pediatrician. Colic could as well be because of an underlying cause, which only the doctor can determine.