Settling your baby

How to settle your baby

A settled baby

A settled baby – see, they do sleep eventually

So you’ve probably found this page after frantically searching the internet to find out why your baby is not sleeping, why it seems to hate sleep and why you are powerless to do anything about it. Before you read much more I should be upfront and tell you I don’t have the answer but maybe my experiences might help.

In my humble opinion, there are sleepers and not to good sleepers. Many would disagree with this however they have probably had the former rather than the latter. If you have the latter I would approach the problem by looking at the following things;

Environment
Is where the baby sleeps, helping or hindering the process. Is it dark for example? If your baby is very young it won’t be scared of the dark so turn the night-lights off and shut the door. It might also be helpful to block out the windows with thick black plastic to stop light coming in and disturbing it.Is it too cold or too warm. There’s a lot written about the temperature of a babies room but I’d suggest trusting your instincts. If it’s comfortable for you then it should be ok for them.

Is the room too noisy or not noisy enough? Sudden bangs and crashes from a nearby TV, washing of dishes or other children are going to make it harder for a light sleeping child to sleep. Conversely, new babies have been used to being in a very loud environment, sitting just under their mothers tummy, lungs and heart. Consider putting some “white noise” on inside their room that they can get used to. The white noise helps to drown out other sudden household noises and adds to the routine. We had a lot of success with rain noise which my first little girl still has on today.

Routine
Some babies need routine, some don’t but after environment it’s the next easiest thing to try. Try putting the baby down at the same time everyday after the same sequence of events. It could be feed, change, wrap, sing and down or whatever works for you. The trick is to make sure it’s exactly the same. You may have to make some sacrifices around how you spend your time with a lack of flexibility but at least your little one will start to understand the signals that it’s time for a sleep.

There’s a lot said about avoiding sleeping aides that your child comes to depend on to get sleep. It may, however, be worthwhile trying to purposefully find a sleep association like a blanket or teddy. One trick I’ve heard of is putting squares of muslin cloth under you tshirt before bed and then putting them in the cot beside your baby. That way they have something that smells like their mother beside them.

Wrapping
There’s a startle reflex that little babies have that can work against them being able to stay asleep. As they twitch in their sleep they can hit themselves with their hands. One trick that worked for us is to wrap the baby up really tight, with it’s hands firmly kept away from their face. There’s plenty of posts online about how to do this (like this one). Until they start to roll this can be a big help.

Understand your baby’s rhythms
Every baby has a sleep cycle. Our’s used to sleep for about 37 minutes and then wake. Her problem was that she couldn’t put herself back to sleep. We learned this by listening to the baby monitor and recording when the crying started. Another friend of mine used a camera and recorded his new borns sleep and found they had a 45 minute sleep cycle. Once we knew the magic number we would be in the room before the sleep cycle ended and as we saw her start to rouse, would pat her gently back to sleep. It didn’t always work but a 50% success rate took some of the pressure of mum and dad.

Hang in there
Some of the best advice I got was “this too shall pass”. If you’re new parents you could be forgiven for thinking “how are we going to survive like this” and wondering how your child will make it to school if it can’t sleep. I know at the time that it feels like forever but your baby is changing everyday and eventually it will get better. If however, at any time it just dosen’t feel right talk to your doctor, family help-line or local nurse. They know what they are doing and will be able to advise you if there’s something wrong.

Who is the Illiterate Infant?

The Illiterate Infant blog documents a new dad’s adventures while raising kids. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes useless but (hopefully) always entertaining. Find out more about the author here.

Wisdom of Others is my attempt to document the advice that I have received form the blogging community and others while raising my daughter. I’m always happy to hear from others about their experiences and thoughts. Drop me a line in the comments or contact me through the facebook page, google plus or twitter

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3 Responses to Settling your baby

  1. Emily says:

    I had one of those ‘good’ sleepers so, two weeks of torture during teething aside, didn’t have to resort too much. But I’d endorse the ‘check the environment’ thing. When we were on holiday, we couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t settle as normal in her portacot. After a full day of screaming and no sleeps, we realised the air conditioner vent was directly over it. Moved the portacot. Sleep. MIRACLE!

  2. We found having a box fan in Mia’s room really helped (not blowing on her, pointed in the other direction) in regards to creating white noise and drowning out other sudden noises. We also used the Love to Dream Wrap Me Up sleep suits and that was amazing. Mia was a real wriggler and no matter how tight we wrapped her she was always able to get her arms free, so these sleep suits were perfect, and because they allow the baby to have their hands up near their head, their preferred way to sleep, she started sleeping so much better as soon as we got her in to one of those.

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