Having a baby is certainly a life-changing event. Nothing will ever be the same. To make sure your little one is provided with enough love and care for healthy development, you will need to put some of your needs aside, like for instance getting the right dose of undisturbed sleep.
Newborn babies will wake up every few hours to feed. This is normal because they have small stomachs that cannot keep them full during the night. But once your baby is grown enough, night feedings aren’t really necessary. Unfortunately, by then the child is already stuck with the habit of waking up in the middle of the night. So, you as a parent will ask yourself “Will I ever be able to sleep again?”.
The answer is yes! Believe it or not, sleep is a learned skill and babies can be taught how to sleep through the entire night. However, to successfully achieve this, you need to have lots of patience, dedication and a few tricks up your sleeve like learning how to night wean. With the help of the following tips, you will no longer have to be sleep-deprived.
Stop Night Feedings
Of course, feeding is the primary reason for babies to wake up in the middle of the night. And just because it’s no longer necessary doesn’t mean that your baby won’t continue waking up and crying to be fed. So, in order to be able to sleep again, you need to first deal with this problem.
Once your doctor says it’s okay to stop night feedings, you can start night weaning. When it comes to how to night wean your baby successfully, it’s important to go slow. Feed your baby less and not as frequently over a few days or weeks so that they can get used to not being fed every time they wake.
Schedule for Sleeping
A sleep schedule can help you a lot in this mission. Newborns can’t have a set bedtime, because sleep time is anytime they feel like sleeping. But once your baby is around three months old, you can start implementing a bedtime schedule that can prove to be beneficial when the time comes to teach your baby to sleep through the night. Additionally, in order for your baby to stick to the sleep schedule, you’d need to reduce the amount of time he/she sleeps during the day. If the little one sleeps too much throughout the day, he/she won’t feel tired enough to fall asleep at the appropriate time.
Set a Strict Bedtime Routine
No matter how young your baby is, it’s never too early to start a bedtime routine. Make sure it’s easy for you to do every night because even the slightest change in your baby’s routine, can disturb them and they may suddenly start waking up even more frequently. The bedtime routine can include feeding, soothing and calming activities. Every baby is different, so you know best what your baby will respond to (shushing, swaddling, or even soft singing). This is how your baby will develop positive associations when it’s time to sleep, so he or she can relax and fall asleep.
Тeach Your Baby to Soothe Alone
When a baby wakes up they start crying for the parents’ attention. Certainly, you will get up and go check on them, but little by little, you can try and limit your time spent with them. You need to make it clear for your baby that sleep time is not over and that it’s still not time to eat or play.
You can put your hand on their chest for a short moment so they can calm down and then leave the room. You can even get some toys or artwork that can be placed near the crib so the baby can have something pleasant to look at. You can also leave things with your scent, like a T-shirt, in the crib so that the baby can sense your presence and not feel abandoned. This way you can prevent separation anxiety. Don’t worry, slowly but surely your baby will learn to self-soothe.
A Calm Room Ambiance
The ambience is very important. The baby’s room should have a pleasant temperature and should be dark enough so the baby can fall asleep. You don’t have to keep it entirely quiet (in that case you will face another challenge when your baby won’t be able to sleep when there is even a slight noise in the house). You can add white noise or some soft music, so the baby can feel soothed and calm.
I know that all of these tips may sound great on paper (or on screen), but when it comes to practice, you should be patient like never before. Teaching a baby this new habit may be easy for some babies, and a real challenge for others. Whatever you do, be patient. Your baby may start following the sleeping schedule, and then suddenly stop. This may be sleep regression that can last for a few days and then your baby will return to their normal sleeping habits. Stay patient and don’t give up.
What to Do When Things Change
Teething is a huge change in babies’ lives. Babies grow fast, so this can coincide with teaching them how to sleep through the night. Teething pain is usually the worst at night. And some babies want to be nursed as a way to relieve the gum pain they experience. If you suspect teething, you can ask your doctor to give your baby a safe and suitable pain reliever (so you can give them before sleep). However, this is all just temporary, and you can just wait for the teeth to come out properly and then continue your mission.
If your baby has recently started eating solid foods, you can expect them to start waking up during the night, most likely because of digestion problems. It’s recommended to avoid solid foods in the evening or at least reduce the number of solids until your baby’s digestive system gets more developed.