Better Sleep for You and Baby (Tonight!)
Routine: Just as adults sleep better with regular routines, so your baby needs a predictable schedule and rituals. Predictable routines such as a bath and story not only help to form a habit so that baby knows it’s time to go to sleep, but they also enhance feelings of security. Putting your baby down to sleep means separation from you; the young infant cannot use a mental image of his parent to feel safe, so a routine helps him to bridge this gap.
If you are not co-sleeping, put your baby to bed while he is awake so that he will become accustomed to going to sleep in his crib. If you form the habit of rocking him to sleep each night, he will not be able to soothe himself back to sleep without your help when he wakes.If your baby is not awakening because of hunger, resist the urge to use a feeding to put him back to sleep because you may create a new routine and prolong your baby’s irregular sleep schedules.
Signals and Soothing: All infants wake up at least once during the night, and early in life they nearly always require their parents to return to sleep. As they mature, though, they must learn to soothe themselves back to sleep. You can help your baby achieve this important milestone.
First, don’t go in immediately when he cries. Many times Baby is not really awake and will settle back to sleep if given time. When you must go in, don’t pick him up immediately. Try a soothing word, rubbing his head, or patting his tummy softly. Doing the minimum needed to help your baby return to sleep will help him learn to regulate his own sleep.Second, consider using a pacifier. In a December 2005 study published by scientists from Kaiser Permanente and the National Institutes of Health, it was found that babies who slept with pacifiers had a 90 percent reduced risk of crib death compared to babies who slept without pacifiers. “Our results also provide some evidence that use of a [pacifier] may reduce the impact of other risk factors for SIDS, especially those related to adverse sleep conditions,” adds Dr. De-Kun Li of Kaiser Permanente California, in the online report from the British Medical Journal.
In addition to these new findings, using a pacifier can be soothing for young babies as well as potentially life-saving. Also, most newer pacifiers are shaped so that they are not bad for baby’s teeth.
As your baby gets older, you can phase out a pacifier in favor of a favorite toy or blanket, known also as a “transition object,” to help her feel secure and sleep better.
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