Last week I asked readers via my Facebook page to let me know what topics they would like me to blog on and the first request that came through was how to get your baby to sleep, requested by Lee. I can relate to this topic very well, it was a struggle for the first few months, but once we got it right, my son slept through the night from about 6 months. It relieved a lot of tension and anxiety for me, I was tired of being a zombie.
How much sleep should your baby be getting:
Newborns should be getting anything between 14-18 hours’ sleep per day.
Infants that are between 1-12 months should be sleeping for a total of 12-14 hours.
Your preschooler should be getting at least 10-12 hours of sleep per night and your preppie (6-11 years old) needs about 10-11 hours of sleep.
I cannot preach the importance of routine enough. Six years down the line, my son is on a very similar routine as he was on as an infant. He still eats and sleeps at more or less the same time as he did when he was a few months old. You will hardly catch him awake after 7:30pm because we stuck to the same routine.
Start introducing regular feeding, bathing and bedtime when your baby is between 6 and 12 weeks old to help them to get into a sleep cycle.
Use soothing scents such as lavender in their room or evening bath water to help them to relax. You can also give your baby a massage, play soothing music or read them a short story as part of the routine, but keep it consistent so that they can learn the bedtime drill.
- Feed before bed:
Feeding your baby just before they go to bed will help them to sleep longer, as they will be fuller and less likely to need to wake up for another feed. Also try feeding again 4 hours later, without waking your baby up. Keep the lights off in the room and they should be able to fall asleep again. Dont change their nappy after feeding; if you need to do a nappy change, do it first.
- Differentiate between day and night:
With a new born or infant, keep the curtains and blinds open during the day for brightness and limit busyness to day time. In the evening, try to keep the house quieter and the room dim or dark.
- Know when to react:
It’s common for us to worry about every babble or cry and rush to help, but this can be detrimental to the process. Most children have different cries for different things, learn these so you know when baby really needs your attention but never ignore a screeching, painful cry, something could be wrong. However, most times, baby should be able to go back to sleep on their own. If they are in need of some soothing, gentle pats on the back or singing a lullaby will help, but remember that you’re working towards your child being able to fall asleep on their own.
- Don’t create dependencies:
The older your child gets, (after about 4-6 months) the less help they should need from you to fall asleep. Avoid using feeds, bottles, and rocking to make them fall asleep. Put them to bed while they are wide awake and finished feeding or you’ll create a monster of a dependency.
It’s a long and frustrating process but don’t be discouraged. Keep trying every day and take turns with your nanny, mother or partner daily. Most importantly, be consistent and stick to your routine.
I always appreciate your comments and feedback. Please share what worked for you? I’m also on social media and would appreciate a follow:
Modern Zulu Mom