Looking down at your beautiful, peacefully sleeping baby is an incredibly satisfying parenting moment, but for some of us baby sleep time becomes an unbearable nightmare of stress, frustration, and heartache. When a baby has trouble sleeping, or settling down to sleep, it can be a torrid time for parents. The problem isn’t only that you need a break, it’s also the worry that something could be wrong with your little one. Suffering night after night with a baby that doesn’t sleep soundly drains you, both physically and emotionally. Your own lack of quality sleep greatly intensifies the problem, and can make you feel isolated, lonely, helpless, and so very tired.
“I feel like a bad parent!”
The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of parents from every walk of life endure the same broken night times as you. The second thing you need to know is that there are solutions to this problem – you can fix this issue!
One of the most important factors to help with your baby’s troublesome sleeping habits is to establish a good bedtime routine. Getting baby to realize that sleep time is approaching and to wind down gently in anticipation of this is a key target. Worth noting right away is that the bedtime routine being consistently followed is more important than what you choose to include in it.
A winding down routine will really help you
You could begin the winding down period with some play time, to let off a final bit of steam before settling down, then maybe a nice warm bath, followed by teeth brushing. Changing her diaper or nappy and getting her into bedtime clothing could be next. If you have other members of your family around you could take baby to say goodnight to each one in turn. Once baby is in her usual crib or cot you could soothingly talk to her because the sound of your voice is very comforting. A pleasant bedtime story is also a good idea, and then maybe singing a gentle, calming lullaby.
Time to say good night, to give her a kiss, and to walk away! Silence is not always the best option at this point because some babies prefer to drift off to sleep while being aware of regular sounds. Other children settling down, families talking, or somebody taking a bath or shower. Some parents like to leave appropriate music quietly playing. This is a personal choice for you, and it can certainly help if you wish to drown out the sudden sounds of a noisy household or neighborhood.
Stick to your routine and your baby will quickly learn when it’s time to sleep
The point of a settling routine is that your baby will quickly learn that when these things happen sleep time is coming. Stick as closely to your chosen routine as possible night after night and you’ll soon be on the path to a far less stressful life.
If you already have a bedtime routine for baby but she is still not sleeping properly, then examine what your routine involves. Is it too hectic? Is it not structured enough? Can you add something to it or take something away? You’ll be amazed at what a small adjustment can do. The earlier you start a bedtime routine with your baby the better, but older babies with sleeping problems will still greatly benefit from the introduction of nightly pattern before sleep.