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Help your baby to enjoy sleep.
They are NOT the same as adults or children and their rhythms are frequently misunderstood.
You don't need to teach your baby to sleep, they've already been doing it for months inside the womb, but being separate from you will be the biggest adjustment for them in the beginning. Transitioning to the outside world can be unsettling for many.
Sleep training is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age but you can train yourself in the meantime and so avoid the need to sleep train your baby at all later on.
Use those early weeks and months to learn about your baby's daily patterns and sleep needs. Work with these rhythms instead of ending up annoyed that they won't comply with yours. This way you'll be able to recognise those early signs of tiredness, understand that sleep becomes more difficult for babies the longer they are awake, predict when your baby will need extra cuddles in order to sleep and understand when to take a step back and discover if nodding off solo might be their preferred option.
With gentle understanding of your baby's daily rhythms, it need not be the energy sapping, exhausting right of passage that that many new parents are warned to expect.
If you're keen to understand your baby's daily sleep rhythms, but not sure how to get started, check out these 6 Simple Strategies for newborn to 3 months and hopefully things will soon start to make a bit more sense.
If your baby is not yet rolling, then a firm swaddle at sleep time may be the answer to your problems. Babies often experience involuntary startle reflexes and frantic arm and leg movements when they become tired, and so often prefer to settle while being held. As this is not always possible, consider the swaddle as a substitute for a supportive hug, rather than something restrictive. That way it's much easier to understand the benefits.
2. Bring naps forward
Even if you only manage this with the first nap of the day. Babies who become overtired are usually building a sleep debt across the day and this is often because they are awake too long between naps. Grizzling and eye rubbing are the tired cues that many parents wait for, when deciding on nap times. Unfortunately, these are often the later signs your baby may give, and it could be easier to settle him, if you can catch him beforehand. Babies often start to show jerky movements and become more vocal on the run-up to naptime and so once familiar with your baby's natural awake interval, you can learn to spot the early warning signs and act promptly, so that you don't miss that all important, window of opportunity.
3. Put an extra layer on
Make sure your baby is warm enough. If she gets cold, it is likely she will wake and be unable to resettle. Perhaps this is why some babies can only fall asleep or resettle while they're being cuddled? It's worth considering. Even in the summer, babies usually require at least one more layer than you do.
4. Use White Noise
Don't spend money on it. You can get free apps for this. White noise, for example radio static, rain or washing machine sounds, are effective for babies with noisy siblings or barking dogs in the family. If played loudly enough (like the volume of a vacuum cleaner), it will prevent outside noise from being a disturbance and is often immediately soothing to very young babies, possibly due to the loud and constant sounds they hear, during their time in the womb. White noise can be taken anywhere with you and once you think it istime to wean your baby off it, then you simply reduce the volume over a few days. Easy!
5. Black-out the bedroom
If you're struggling to get your little one to sleep in the day, a very dark room may
help. Worried about day/night confusion? The worst thing that will happen is that you may have to wake her if she's sleeping too long!! How fantastic would that be?!
6. Feed before sleep
This may seem quite a controversial approach as many, well known 'Sleep strategies' will guide you to avoid this at all costs for fear of creating an 'association'. However, nature has perfectly primed your newborn to be calm and sleepy at the end of a feed, so why try and reinvent the wheel? If your baby is still under 6 months old, and struggles to relax at sleep time, then I would strongly advise going back to nature’s basics. If your baby settles and sleeps well after a cosy feed, in a darkened room, with little to no stimulation, then feed to sleep if that works. As time goes on, you’ll be able to start settling your baby down in graduated levels of alertness until she is content to be placed in her cot, awake. Don't worry, you still have plenty of time to teach your baby more independent sleep routines as their maturity develops but a simple enjoyment and willingness to sleep for now, will pave the way for you, a few months down the track.