73 ways to help your baby sleep.

  1. Food Glorious Food Don’t under-estimate the sleep-inducing effect of food. Babies only eat when they are hungry, so always consider this when she/he is not sleeping for you. If he is rooting for something to suck on, and a pacifier or finer only frustrates him, he wants the real thing.
  2. Bedtime for Baby

    For the first 6 weeks of your baby’s life, let go of the idea of strict schedules. This can actually be relaxing and help you sleep: You’ll have to catch forty winks whenever she’s asleep. Baby’s nighttime “bedtime” should be around 10:00pm; you’ll want to feed and change her if she’s wet but after this time, try to keep your interactions with her very low-key until the sun rises. It’s a case of adjusting your expectations – newborns need to eat every two to three hours at this age.
  3. Swaddle him with Love Swaddling infants has been common practice around the world for thousands of years and it’s a familiar sight at hospitals. Wrapping your baby snugly comforts him (as if you were holding him tight, or even as if he were still in the womb) and immobilizing his arms prevents the startling reflex that tends to wake babies. Lucky for uncoordinated parents, you can now buy swaddling blankets made with simple velcro flaps – some come complete with a blanket bottom to keep baby cozy.
  4. Location, Location Pediatricians recommend that your baby sleep in your room for the first month or two of his life. After that time, though, reconsider the real estate in your home. It’s impossible to ignore your baby’s cry, but consider this: You might actually be interrupting your baby’s sleep by checking on his so often.
  5. Fools Rush In Your baby makes noises while he’s sleeping. Let him sniff and sigh and gurgle and maybe even cry out before you reach for him – sometimes he just needs to settle down. If you wait five minutes, you might be surprised.
  6. Stay Close but not Together The faster you can respond to your baby in the middle of the night, the less likely either of you are to wake fully. Rather than keeping him/her in your bed, though, where the dangers far outweigh the benefits, consider a co-sleeper, a crib that opens to to the side of your bed so you can reach out to soothe your baby without rising.
  7. Loving Sleep New parents love sleep; even if you weren’t a big sleeper before you had a baby, you probably value it now more than ever. When you’re putting baby down, remind him of the wonderful night he has ahead of him, dreaming his wonderful dreams. You’re not banishing him to bed, you’re sending him to lovely la-la land.
  8. The Big House A cribe can seem awfully big to a little baby. For the first few months, you might be better off with a bassinet or special sleeping basket. Do try to get her used to a crib, though; believe it or not, she’ll someday outgrow even that. Try putting the basket inside the crib, or placing tightly rolled towels along the crib’s sides – or co-sleeper, if you’re using one – to make it cozier.
  9. Share the Joy If possible, you and your partner should make a plan for middle-of-the-night care. For example, some couples break the night intro two shiftsl others plan mom for one and two breastfeeding breaks, and leave the rest up to the non-lactating part of the team. Whatever you decide, discus it before its 2 a.m. and you are both cranky.
  10. Don’t keep Score If you’re reading this, you’re probably the parent who is doing most of the nighttime caretaking. It’s difficult not to be resentful of your partner-or even your baby-but try to let that go. Either ask for more help or remind yourself that this time is precious, because it is.
  11. Back to Sleep A baby is almost always soothed by being on her side or tummy, yet research has proven that it’s safer for babies to sleep on their backs. Try swaying her to sleep on her side, in a swaddle to make her feel secure, then gently roll her onto her back into bed. Once she can roll over, though, it’s baby’s choice.
  12. He was such a Sleeper!! Don’t despair if your round-the-clock sleeper, suddenly becomes a night owl when you leave the hospital. This is absolutely normal, although it is sure to come as a shock. Just go with the flow – the pendulum will swing again once he/she is a teenager.
  13. Dim the Lights Some babies like to sleep in complete darkness, mimicking the womb. Others like low lights. In any case, you’ll need to see for nighttime visits, so it’s worth thinking about putting a dimmer switch into the nursery. Or use a nightlight with a switch that you can turn on and off.
  14. Warm the Bed There’s nothing as pleasant as slipping into warm sheets, and your baby would agree. Before baby goes down, warm her bed with a hot water bottle. (Never leave it in the crib though!) Or try putting her blanket in the dryer for a few minutes. Always make sure that there are no hot spots. You might find yourself using the same trick!
  15. Expectations, Baby The idea of creating a bedtime routine when you first return from the hospital might seem crazy, but it is worth the trouble. Start simple: Bath, story, milk, and a song is a fine routine and sets the groundwork for good sleep as baby grows.
  16. Good night, Every night You might not want to read the same book every night, but a baby likes to know what to expect. Get a copy of “Good Night Moon,” and add your own variations, saying good night to each part of your baby’s room before she peacfully dozes off to sleep.
  17. Knead to Sleep Who doesn’t love a nice massage after a  bath? Lie your baby down on a soft towel on his changing table on the floor. Warm unscented massage oil between your hands and gently stroke his skin with your fingers, from his toes up to his belly. Then gently on across his chest and down his arms to his tiny fingers. Shift him on his side to stroke his back. Finish with a gentle sweep over his forehead and ears. Keep a towel or blanket draped over the parts you’re not touching so he stays toasty warm.
  18. Wrap her up Swaddling is wonderful, but forget about trying to use those tiny receiving blankets from the hospital. You’ll only get frustrated. Instead, buy a large, square balnket, ideally 42″ by 42″, made of a material with some give, such as cotton or fleece. You will doubtless worry that this is a cruel trick, but when you see how calm it makes your baby, you’ll be a convert!
  19. Love your Lovey A blanket or special toy can help babies transistion from caregiver to bed. Some times a baby will find his own lovey., and you should encourage this. Or pick an object to give to him while he nurses, rides in the car, rests in bed, or does other quiet activities. If you like, sleep with it yourself so it has your smell on it. Once your baby is old enough to roll over and snuggle with his fuzzy blanket, leave him be!
  20. Mommy Lies! When you hear a mommy brag that her two-week-old is sleeping through the night already, don’t forget that she’s probably exaggerating. In fact, most experienced mothers (and pediatricians) would be worried if a two-week-old slept through the night. This won’t be the first time you’ll be tempted to compare your child to someone else’s. Don’t tune into it.
  21. Hollywood Mama Make sure you get yourself out of the house every day. Tiny babies are pretty portable-and movie matinees can be just the ticket when the weather is extreme.
  22. Nature’s Nightcap The hormones in breast milk help make baby sleepy – and a good feeding also helps mom to doze off for an all-important rest.
  23. You Feed what You EatAs if new motherhood isn’t difficult enough, breast-feeding moms worry that their baby is fussy because of something they ate. No real evidence of this exists, but if you are concerned, cut out coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate for a few weeks to see if it helps.
  24. Mo’ Better Milk Lots of new moms feed their babies every hour or so between 5:00pm, and bedtime. Then it’s nighty-night, hopefully until the wee hours.
  25. Tank ‘Em Up Give your baby her last nursing or bottle just as you’re going to bed, even if she’s already down. WIthout waking her up completely, brush her mouth with the nipple and she’s sure to latch on for a late night snack that could give you an extra hour or two of snooze time.
  26. So Noisy! Believe it or not, your baby is used to lots and lots of loud sounds – the sound of your organs working right next to baby’s ears made for some territic background noise. A radio set’s static might just do a remarkable job of calming your child!
  27. Stay Up, Sleep Better? Trying to keep your baby up late so that he’ll sleep better at night will surely backfire. An overtired baby will resist sleep more than a rested one. So keep naps regular and bedtime early. After the first few months, most babies should go to bed between 7 – 8 pm.
  28. Counter-intutive Bedtime Trick Believe it or not, if your baby is having trouble falling asleep, he may need an early bedtime. Try moving it up 15 minutes or so and see what happens. Some babies sleep from 6 to 6, but many others don’t.
  29. Colour her Sleepy Remember when feng shui was all the rage? Sleep deprivation will make you a believer again: Try painting baby’s room a relaxing blue or lavender, and choose bedding in a monochromatic scheme to match.
  30. Whoosh, Whoosh Lean over the crib and half-sing, half-chant “whoosh whoosh” over and over again. Think of ocean waves as you’re doing it. Hopefully baby will grow as snoozy and you do sitting on a beach in the sun, listening to the sea.
  31. Old-time Rockin’ If you can find one, an old-fashioned cradle that rocks can do wonders, the first few weeks of baby’s life. Gentle rocking can help her doze off to sleep, and if she startles, another gentle rock can keep her there.
  32. Tell him a Secret Make up a goodnight wish for your baby, and whisper it in his ear each time he goes to sleep. Don’t tell anyone else what you say.
  33. Baby-Matic Otherwise known as the sing, although a vibrating bouncy seat will also do the trick, this device will make your baby very happy and calm. Once he’s out, turn off the motor and allow your baby to fall into a very deep sleep. This is best for the early months, for daytime sleep.
  34. Play in the Day When you feed your baby in the daytime, play a little peek-a-boo or sing a song to reminds him that it’s time to be awake. Don’t force the issue if he’s a real sleepy-head at first, but be aware of making daytie, playtime.
  35. Pacifiers Pacifying This is most important between 2 and 6 months of age, after this time, pacifiers can increase the number of ear infections, so that’s something to keep in mind. If your baby likes the “binky” and it helps her sleep, by all means, use it!
  36. Carry On Try using a sling or carrier to keep baby close to you and your heart. She’ll probably fall asleep and you can tend to yourself while she’s so peaceful. After he early newborn days, try putting her in her own bed after she’s asleep so she’ll get used to being there.
  37. Eat enough each time Your baby needs to nurse for at least 12 to 15 minutes per breast to get a well-rounded meal. The rich “cream” comes at the end of the feeding, and that’s what will fuel him for good sleep.
  38. Wake a Sleeping Baby? Some experts say never wake a sleeping baby, while others suggest waking him for milk every 3 hours around the clock. Waking your baby at night won’t benefit antone. Instead, encourage your baby to eat more during the day and early evening. Break up a daytime nap that is three or four hours long with a feeding, at night, however, let him sleep to his heart’s content.
  39. Fresh Air Your mother said it, and her mother probably said it before her, but it’s just true. Fresh air will do a body (and a baby) good. A rest on the beach is always a treat.
  40. Bundle Up If your fussy boy is getting cabin fever, bundle him in fleece and take him for a walk. If he falls asleep, roll the stroller into the house and grab yourself a nap on the couch.
  41. Take a Ride If the only way your precious one will take a snooze is in the back of the car, go out and take a ride. Once he’s asleep, stop the car and either put your own seat back for a rest, or carry in the baby, car seat and all. This is best for younger babies, after the first few months, try not to rely on this trick.
  42. A Calm Parent is a good Parent Your baby can sense your emotions. When you’re upset, she becomes agigated. When you’re calm, she becomes calmer. Practice relaxing your muscles before you pick her up. Let your eyes soften, your jaws get slack. Check your shoulders, are they raised? Let them go. Now pick up baby and don’t worry that she’s crying her little heart out. This too will pass.
  43. The Language of Babes Recent feeding? Check. Dry diaper? Check. Crying doesn’t always mean hunger, but how do you know what your baby needs? Watching the clock can help. If your baby is dry and full, and has been awake more than 2 hourse, she might actually be sleepy.
  44. No time for Chatting Nighttime feedings should be short and sweet. Keep the lights low and the cuddling to a minimum. You can “shush” but now isn’t the time  to comment on cute toes. If this sounds unkind to you, remember how much happier you’ll be in the morning, how much more loving and emotionally available you’ll be, when you’re both sleeping through the night.
  45. Diaper Do’s and Don’ts If your little one tends to get soaked through over the night, try special overnight diapers, or something called diaper doubles, and slather the diaper cream onto her dried bottom. You really don’t need to change her unless she has a poop- today’s diapers are amazingly efficient at keeping baby from feeling wet even if the diaper is full.
  46. Tame the Tummy If your baby spits up alot after feeding, and seems uncomfortable lying down, try tilting his crib with phone books under its legs, keeping his head up. Or buy special wedges to put under his mattress to keep his head higher than his feet.
  47. The 2 Hour Rule For the first four months, try to put your baby down for a rest after two hours of active time. That means if she’s awake at 6:30, aim for a nap at 8:30. Even if she doesn’t seem tired, what do you have to lose?
  48. Hold On Hold your baby with his head draped over your shoulder and his belly against your upper chest when he seems fussy. Rubbing his back while he’s in this position will soothe him and help him to burp. If you’re very still, you can even feel his heart beating against you.
  49. Twenty to go It typically takes a baby about twenty minutes to go from wake to sleep. Give him a chance to get before you give up.
  50. Same time, Same place Babies love routine, and routine is the best way to teach them that light means playtime, and dark means sleepy time. A kiss from big sister is a favourite way to end the day!
  51. Good Mommy Try not to blame yourself for your baby’s sleeplessness. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. Remind yourself of this, and remind your friends and family to remind you too!
  52. Natural Rhythms Keeping a log of your baby’s sleep patterns, even if you don’t think there’s a pattern to be found, can prove helpful. You might discover more of a rhythm than you think exists. This in turn, can help you know when your baby naturally feels sleepy or awake.
  53. 3 days/7 days The old wives tale is 3 days to make a habit, and 7 days to break it. So if you consistently miss your baby’s bedtime routine, try to commit to a stretch of doing the same thing every night for at least 3 days. Don’t mix it up, remember familiarity equals expectation equals sleep. Or something like that.
  54. Big Yawn Like adults, babies yawn when they are sleepy. It may be catching, start that bedtime routine pronto.
  55. Common Scents Use an essential oil (lavender is nice) in a diffuser, or on a tissue, in your baby’s room. Bring it with you when you travel and the new place will smell you like home!
  56. Try a Bottle Do formula fed babies sleep more? This doesn’t appear to be the case, but alloing someone else to feed your baby once a day can provide you with a break. You can sleep a longer shift if you choose the nighttime feed for a bottle. If you’re breastfeeding and it’s going well, pump milk for the feeding without worrying about diminishing your supply.
  57. Solid Myth Many a mother a told that the sonner she feeds her baby solid foods, the sooner her baby will sleep through the night. There is nothing to prove this; in fact, for the first 6 months of their lives, babies should be receiving all the nutrition they need from breast milk or formula. You can feed your baby more frequently during the day if you think she’s truly hungry in the middle of the night, but never add cereal to a bottle.
  58. Pay Attention A baby who isn’t interested in eating might be ready for bed. Put him down before he starts to fuss.
  59. P.J. Time Change baby into a soft sleeper at night as another signal that it’s bedtime. Buy four or five of the same type to reinforce the idea, and don’t use them for anything else.
  60. Good Morning, Sunshine! Don’t forget a morning routin. Open the shades, let the sun in, and sing good morning. Remind her it is time to wake up and play!
  61. Eat enough, Sleep enough By the time a baby is 12 weeks old, he should be able to go at least 6 hours without eating. But how do you know he’s getting enough food? Besides the most obvious, he’s growing! – the rule of the thumb for a 24hour day, is 3ounces for each pound your baby weighs.
  62. Phasing out crutches When your baby is growing more “settled” at about 3 or 4 months, start phasing out some of the crutching you may have used in those first crazy weeks at home. The best way to do this is to start with your method, but try to put your baby down before he is in a very deep sleep. You can pick him up again if he cries, but every day try to let him do a little bit more for himself. Don’t forget that  you’re coaching him how to sleep, a skill that will last forever.
  63. Experience is Key If your baby can easily fall asleep in your arms or on your breast, he has no real problem getting to sleep he’s just gotten used to falling asleep in your presence. Your job will be to him him gain experience falling asleep in his crib.
  64. Snug as a Bug Zip baby up in a waerable blanket, or sack and she will stay toasty all night. You can also do midnight changes more easily if you need be, carrying your warm bundle out of bed and unzipping from the bottom for a quick diaper change.
  65. Sleep how you Wake A baby who is rocked to sleep every night in her daddy’s arms, then moved to her crib after she’s fast asleep, might well have problems falling back to sleep herself after a normal waking in the night. If this is the case, make sure she falls asleep in the same place she’ll wake up. That means putting her down before she’s fully asleep. This becomes more critical after she’s 12 weeks old.
  66. Numbers Game You’ve been keeping track of his sleep, and you discover that your baby has in fact gone more that 6 or 7 hours without eating – Bingo! You are ready to make that stretch happen during your sleeping time.
  67. Sleep training 101 If you’ve decided to make a concerted effort to try to get your 4 month old to sleep more hourse at night, undertake the first days of this mission when you can most afford lost sleep yourself. A long weekend is better thatn the day before a big presentation at work.
  68. Nursing to Sleep Nurseing your baby to sleep is such a wonderful way to end the end- who would want to stop that? However, if your baby is still waking more than once in the night, after he’s 3 or 4 months old and cannot get back to sleep without nursing, you might want to try rousing him a bit after feeding him at bedtime, so that he’s awake when you put him in his crib. Or, tweak his schedule so that you nurse him in another room and follow the feeding with a bath or massage.
  69. To Cry or Not TO Cry Sleep training is often seen as a nice way of saying crying it out. But letting your baby cry until she falls asleep is not a method unto itself. A good sleep routine should already be in place before you consider letting your baby cry- and most pediatricians agree that this tends to work best with a baby who is at least 6 months old, although you can try it when she’s 4 months old if you’re desperate. If you decide this is the way to do, make sure you return to baby’s room every 5 or 10 minutes to reassure her with a pat that you’re there, you love her, and she can do this.
  70. Find a Good Listener If you’re struggling to put together a bedtime routine, and your baby just doesn’t seem to be catching on to the plan, set up a time every monring to talk to someone who you trust and who understands babies. Maybe it’s your mom, maybe it’s your partner, recounting what has happened the night before can put it in perspective and keep you from utter dispair.
  71. Sleep Coach A coach can’t get into a game and play for his team any more than you can crawl into your baby’s crib and sleep for your lil one. You can comfort with pats and encouraging words, but at the end of the day, she needs to learn to fall asleep by herself.
  72. Call in the Troops If your baby is 6 months old, and still waking in the night for food, you should probably wean him off eating in the wee hours. It’s very hard for a breast feeding mother to refuse her crying baby a nip at night, so start with a bottle of breast milk or formula given by someone else. That alone might be boring enough to stop baby from waking up. If not, dilute the bottle with water eac day for a week. By the end, your baby will probably decide it is not worth rising for some lukewarm water.
  73. Love Outlasts Everything If your baby has to shed some tears on his journey to learning how to sleep, you should rest assured that it won’t be traumatic. In fact, he’ll rise in the morning happy as can be, ready for your love and attention.

Parts of this book are excerpts from “73 Ways To Help Your Baby Sleep”
Images from http://corbis.com

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