Young babies only sleep a few hours at a time and wake up during the night when they get hungry or need a diaper change. Learning to get your baby to fall asleep is important so you can get some rest yourself. Each baby is different and what works for one child may not work well for another, but there are some basic techniques that work well for helping most babies sleep at night.
Keep your baby busy and active during the day. Sing to your baby, play with your baby, keep the lights bright and keep noises at a moderate level. This prevents excessive napping and ensures your baby will feel sleepy at bedtime. Note that babies do need some naps during the daytime, though.
Establish a soothing bedtime routine. Dim the lights, speak in a soft voice, play soothing music or sing softly. A warm bath might also help your baby relax. Try to stick to a regular bedtime.
Put your baby to bed when she is drowsy but still awake so she learns to associate bed with falling asleep, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic. Put her to bed on her back to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Allow your baby some time to go to sleep. Babies often fuss a little as they get comfortable and start to fall asleep. If your baby starts to cry or does not settle down in a few minutes, try rubbing her back and speaking soothingly to her.
Allow your baby to use a pacifier if it helps her fall asleep and you feel comfortable with that. According to the Mayo Clinic, use of a pacifier may actually help decrease the risk of SIDS. However, your baby may cry during the night if the pacifier falls out of her mouth and if she gets used to sleeping with one, she may not want to give it up when she gets older.
Some parents feel sharing a bed with their baby helps their baby fall asleep. Some experts including Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and author, agree while others including professionals with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend against sharing a bed with your baby. Discuss bed sharing with your child’s pediatrician if you want to know if it might be a good choice for your family.
Baby Center. http://www.babycenter.com/0_baby-sleep-basics-birth-to-3-months_7654.bc. Baby Sleep Basics – Birth to Three Months.
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-sleep/FL00118/NSECTIONGROUP=2. Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night.
Kids Health. http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/sleep/cosleeping.html. Cosleeping and Your Baby.
Ask Dr. Sears. http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/t071000.asp. Safe Cosleeping.