12 ways to encourage baby’s good sleeping habits
Get busy during the day.
When your baby is awake, engage her by talking, singing and playing. Surround her with light and normal household noises. Stimulation during the day can help promote better sleep at night.
Monitor your baby’s naps.
Strange but regular naps will also help your baby sleep well at night. Depriving her nap-time during the day may make your baby overtired by bedtime, making it harder for her to settle down. But sleeping for large chunks of time during the day may also leave your baby wide awake at bedtime.
Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
Try relaxing favourites such as bathing, cuddling, singing or reading. Soon your baby will associate these activities with sleep. If you play bedtime music, choose the same quiet tunes each time you put your baby in the crib.
Make your baby comfortable.
Some babies feel most comforted in a swaddled state. Wrap them securely in a receiving blanket. You may also place a small, safe stuffed animal with your smell in the crib, following all safety precautions. White noise like the sound of running water or hum of a fan is soothing too.
Fill your baby’s tummy before sleep.
Try to give the last feeding before bedtime a complete one so that baby sleeps with a full, contented tummy.
Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake.
This will help your baby associate bed with the process of falling asleep. In the long term, baby may be able to sleep without your help.
Give your baby time to settle down.
Your baby may fuss or cry before finding a comfortable position and falling asleep. If the crying doesn’t stop, speak to your baby calmly and stroke his back. Your reassuring presence may be all your baby needs to fall asleep.
Consider a pacifier.
If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier may do the trick. In fact, using a pacifier during sleep may reduce the risk of SIDS. The pitfall is, you may face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth.
Introduce a lovey.
Some babies attach themselves to a favourite blanket or toy that comforts them in your absence. You may be able to help your baby become attached to a lovey by placing it between the two of you whenever you nurse, bottlefeed or rock him.
Expect frequent stirring at night.
Babies can be noisy and often wriggle, squirm and twitch in their sleep. Sometimes fussing or crying is simply a sign of settling down. Unless you suspect that your baby is hungry or uncomfortable, it’s alright to wait a few minutes to see what happens before attending to him.
Keep night-time care low-key.
When your baby needs care or feeding during the night, use dim lights, a soft voice and calm movements. This will tell your baby that it’s time to sleep – not play.
Respect your baby’s preferences.
If your baby is a night owl or an early bird, you might want to adjust routines and schedules based on these natural patterns.