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Tips for settling your baby

 

Is your baby struggling to settle? Still getting up lots of times in the night? Being woken up before sunrise? Try these ideas to help your little one get the sleep she needs for healthy growth and happier days for everyone.

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Help! My baby takes a long time to get to sleep in the evening.

Try… gradually winding down and following the same routine every evening.

As your baby becomes more active, and is more physically busy during the day, she may need some time to ease into bedtime. Shifting from stimulating activities to a quiet, relaxing routine may signal to her that sleep time is not far away. Take a look at 13 tips for sweet dreams for ideas of what to do before lights out. Choose the relaxing activities you both enjoy, and try to do them in the same order every evening so your little one knows what to expect next, and that it’s leading up to sleep. A consistent routine prior to bedtime is linked with improved sleep (earlier bedtimes, reduced night wakings, and increased duration of sleep) in young children.

 

Help! My baby wakes up crying at night and I’m not sure why.

Try… asking yourself these questions to rule out the reasons why she’s woken up. Remember, it won’t always be hunger.

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Help! My baby fed about an hour ago, fell asleep and is now awake again.

Try… not immediately picking her up from her crib. Wait to see if she’ll resettle herself.

Take a moment to try to identify your baby’s cry. If she needs a diaper change, attend to her, then put her back down quickly, and give her a chance to settle herself back to sleep. If you can, try not to play with her or turn on the lights. Keep things calm and, if you have to speak, whisper softly to signal that it’s still sleeping time. Doing this will help your little one get herself back to sleep so you can get some more rest too. Practicing these habits when your baby is young can set the stage for preventing sleep issues later. If you are just starting now, it may take a while for her to learn this technique, and it will be worth it in the long run, so have patience and stick to it.

 

Help! My baby only falls asleep while feeding or snuggling with me.

Try… putting her down in her crib when she’s drowsy but not asleep.

If your baby has gotten into the habit of falling asleep during a feed or a cuddle, she may find it hard to fall asleep on her own. Perseverance is key here. Follow a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine, then put her down when she’s tired but not fast asleep. Run through a mental checklist that her diaper is changed, the room temperature is comfortable, and she is not showing signs of hunger. Quietly leave the room and wait to see if she drifts off to sleep without you. If she’s fussing, wait for a moment before going in to check if she needs something. You may have to do this several times in the early stages, with the result that soon you’ll both be sleeping better.

 

Help! I don’t know how much sleep she should be getting during the day.

Try… putting her down for two naps at around the same time every day.

Babies between six and eight months of age typically sleep for up to 15 hours in a 24-hour period. On average, this means two naps of up to two hours each day, and around nine to 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. If your baby is getting fewer than 12 hours of sleep in 24 hours, think about how you can add to, or change, her sleep routine. Babies tend to like predictability, so try putting her down for a daytime nap in her own crib, if possible, with the lights turned low.

 

Sources

 

Mindell JA, Li AM, Sadeh A et al. Bedtime routines for young children: A dose dependent association with sleep outcomes. Sleep 2015; 38(5):717-22.

Sadeh A, Tikotzky L, Scher A. Parenting and infant sleep. Sleep Med Rev 2010; 14(2):89-96.

Sadeh A, Mindell JA, Luedtke K et al. Sleep and sleep ecology in the first 3 years: a web-based study. J Sleep Res 2009; 18(1):60-73.

Paul IM, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca S et al. INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention and infant sleep. Pediatrics 2016; 138(1): e20160762.

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