Every parent knows that putting your baby down to sleep is one of the hardest and most challenging things you can do. Humans have some very bizarre sleeping habits and patterns, but babies are no different. Every parent dreads the fact that they will need to get up several times during the night to put their crying baby back to sleep.
But does that really need to be so? We, as experienced parents and snoozers, don’t believe so. There are some tips and tricks that you can follow to help your baby get over her sleepy tantrum and get back to sleep faster than ever. Here are some of our favourite ones.
1. Understand the Sleep Cycles
The first thing you need to do before you can become better at putting your baby to sleep is understand how babies sleep. The sleep cycles of babies are very different from that of adults.
Namely, for the first 45 minutes, your baby will sleep very lightly and will be easy to wake up. After that, she will enter the REM phase, which is a very deep stage during which she likely won’t wake up.
Babies remain in REM stage for anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes and then start transitioning back to light sleep. After they awake, one sleep cycle is over.
By understanding these patterns, you will lower the chances of waking the baby up. If you need to move her into her cot, don't do it during the first 45 minutes. Also, make sure that the sleeping conditions are perfect during the first 45 minutes so as not to wake her up.
2. Don’t Wait Until Your Baby Is Too Tired
This advice might sound counterintuitive, but it’s true. Don’t wait until your baby is too tired to begin putting her to sleep. A tired baby will be frustrated and fussy and will have a harder time to actually focus on falling asleep. Instead, learn your baby’s sleeping habits and try to keep them in mind. Start putting her down to sleep before she is overtired.
Moreover, an overtired baby will actually sleep for a shorter time than a less tired baby. Hard to believe once again, but it’s true. To avoid overtiredness, you should know that infants usually stay awake around 40 minutes before they need a nap. A six-month baby can endure 90 minutes of wakefulness, whereas a 1-year-old can stay awake for anywhere between three and six hours.
3. Make the Right Sleeping Conditions
How do you feel when you go to sleep, but the room is too hot or too cold? How about when the air is too dry, and your mouth becomes dry as well? Do you find it hard to fall asleep when there’s noise in the other room? Remember that your baby would answer these questions the same way as you did.
Babies need optimal sleeping conditions to fall asleep. Make sure that the room is the right temperature, that the air is not too dry or too humid, and that there is no noise. Invest in a humidifier or a dehumidifier if the air in the baby’s room is not optimal.
4. Create a Routine Around Sleeping
A sleep routine is the best way to ensure your baby falls asleep fast each time. Adults love sleep routines as well, but babies basically depend on them for a good night’s sleep. By following a routine every time it’s time to sleep, your baby will naturally become drowsier.
For example, some 30 minutes before bedtime, dim the lights and reduce the noise. You can also introduce softly spoken stories or lullabies, which will definitely help your baby enter the land of dreams. The best time to start introducing these rituals is when the baby is between six and eight weeks old.
5. Learn How to Put Your Baby Down
A lot of parents make the mistake of putting their baby down right after she falls asleep. That’s not the best idea, as you might have already realised time and time again. When you put the baby down and move away, it’s natural for her to wake up. Once she sees that you are not around, her survival instinct will turn on, and she’ll start crying because she does not want to stay alone.
You can prevent this from happening by intentionally slightly jostling your baby the moment you put her down into the cot. By doing this, she will wake up for a split second, realise that something has changed, but see that you are still around. After that, she will happily go back to sleep, knowing that you are there to protect her.
6. Don’t Associate Sleeping with Feeding
Another big mistake that many parents are making is that they feed their baby to sleep. That’s a trap that’s pretty hard to get out of once you fall in. If your baby learns that she needs to eat every time before she falls asleep, that’s what she’ll always ask for.
Consequently, every time your baby wakes up during the night, you will have to feed her if you want her to go back to sleep, even if she has already eaten and is not hungry at all. Moreover, that means that only the mother can get up and soothe the baby if the baby is breastfed, which will lead to a lot of frustrations.
7. Avoid Holding or Rocking the Baby to Sleep
Similar to the tip above, avoid holding or rocking your baby to sleep. If you do this a handful of times, you will have to continue doing it even when you do not have enough time or energy to continue.
A good way to change this is to put your baby down into the cot and gently rock her. After a while, you will be able to just hold her hand or hold your hand on her chest, which will be enough for her to feel safe and fall asleep.
Over to you... what are your tips to help your baby fall asleep easily? Comment in the section below 😊