Helpful hints to encourage your baby to sleep well
Encouraging your newborn baby to sleep is a process of elimination. It is a process by which you try to eliminate most factors that prevents them from sleeping. As you gain confidence, you will be able to help deal with your baby’s normal behaviour and when he is trying to settle (fall asleep).
Sometimes it can take a newborn up to an hour to achieve deep sleep and it is good to know that, even after you have attempted to remove all negative factors, the behaviour and unsettledness your baby is experiencing is quite normal.
The process of elimination goes something like this:
Make sure you encourage your baby to feed well. During the daytime, use up to one hour to encourage him to feed. Wake him up if he’s sleepy. Encourage good long feeds so you know baby isn’t hungry. If he falls asleep after a short feed and you put him to bed, only to have him wake up too early, you will think he is hungry and snack feeding will become a habit.
Check and/or change the nappy before putting your baby to bed. You will then know that he is neither wet nor dirty. This is a good habit to get into. Also, don’t be afraid of putting your baby down to bed while he is still awake. If baby can fall asleep on his own, from an alert but relaxed state, he will sleep better as a result.
Wrap baby firmly with his hands away from his face. This will help to eliminate him feeling insecure and will help in settling down. Newborn babies cannot control their movements, so if not swaddled, they will stay awake by flapping their hands around their faces.
Hold your baby upright over your shoulder for a few minutes. This position will help them relax and bring up any wind they may have, and at the same time, you will give them the reassurance needed to help settle down. They will be in a calm state when you put them down.
Tuck baby into bed firmly. Newborns like to feel secure and the less they wiggle around, the sooner they will be able to settle. Put them down wrapped and then also place a sheet tightly over the top tucked into each side of the mattress, but make sure there is plenty of room between the top of the sheet and your baby’s face, so you don’t restrict air flow.
Play some music in your baby’s room. Either a CD or the radio. Make sure the sound is playing for the whole time your baby is in bed. Music or noise helps your baby to settle. This constant noise within the bedroom helps your baby to switch off from other stimuli and also eliminates baby from feeling alone and vulnerable.
Leave babies to settle and if they cannot achieve this and start crying, return and attempt to eliminate the negative factors you feel may be attributing to this unsettledness. You could pick them up for a cuddle, give another opportunity to bring up remaining wind and help them to get calm through reassurance. After a couple of minutes (and when they are calm) put them back down and try again.
If your baby is still unsettled, return again and try patting or rocking to help him settle.
As babies get older they will become familiar with bedtime as you consistently use these same techniques and, as they mature, they will begin to settle themselves without much assistance.