A lovely long sleep – sometimes having a new baby at home can make that seem like a distant and unattainable reality. Like food, warmth and love, it’s an essential for your child’s development, giving baby the chance to rest and grow, and to process all the new experiences of the previous waking hours. With everything so new and exciting to a newborn, no wonder they can and will sleep 16 hours a day.
Some babies will sleep right through the night after the first few weeks, but most children need three to four months – or even much longer – to develop a good day and night rhythm. It is a misconception that babies naturally sleep well, but you can help to set a familiar, comfortable rhythm, with good habits and ways to calm your baby, making sleep easier by day or night.
Help your baby to dreamland with these five tips:
Set a regular routine
A clear rhythm, preferably from birth, is an important first step to help your baby sleep well. That doesn’t mean forcing your baby into a rigid schedule by the clock. The point is that certain activities always come in the same order, setting landmarks within the day that are familiar and dependable. Rituals give your child a sense of confidence and safety, making it easy for them to feel calm and rest peacefully.
Set the daily ritual of washing or bathing, or go for a short walk at the same time each day. At bedtime always play the same quiet game, or sing the same lullaby. Soothe a fractious child with the same comforting words and gentle touch. However young, a baby will find in all these things a sense of security, the prerequisite for being able to sleep well.
Create peace at home
Take a critical look at your own living space, which is now home for your baby. Does it look cosy and tidy or are there toys, piles and chaos everywhere? A child has very sensitive antennae and picks up much more of the atmosphere at home than is often assumed. The house doesn’t need to be constantly spick and span, but a quiet and tidy atmosphere is important.
It may also help to make the place where your baby sleeps feel safe and calm, for example, with the ceiling above the crib or playpen in warm, soothing tones. Baby shouldn’t feel pressured by clutter around the crib, and if he sleeps well during the day, he will also enjoy a much better night's sleep.
Swaddling can help babies who are hard to settle. To swaddle means that you wrap your child in a tight cloth or blanket, from shoulders to feet. As a parent, you may have to get used to the idea of restricting your baby so tightly, yet it is precisely this cocoon which makes her feel safe. Children who are swaddled to learn how to relax and unwind. If you want to swaddle your baby, it is important that you learn how to do it properly, otherwise your baby could get caught up in the wrappings.
Have a relaxing bath before bedtime
Bathing before bedtime can help your child start to feel sleepy. Bathing itself has a soothing effect and leaves baby warm and fuzzy . For extra relaxation you can add a soothing bathmilk for children to the water.