Motherhood is a blessing that comes with its own set of challenges. A woman’s life takes a 360 degree turn when a baby enters her life. A small tiny person brings so much joy and happiness that the whole family forgets about every other thing.
The routine of the mother starts revolving around the baby, from waking up to feeding and putting the baby to sleep, everything is new and an inexperienced mother can soon start feeling all the burden falling on her shoulders.
After some time, the whole family moves back to their daily routine, leaving the mom to cope up alone with all the baby’s needs. Fathers do help, but they cannot completely replace the mother.
One of the biggest problems a mother suffers after delivery is the lack of sleep. Not getting the required amount of sleep during the night can affect the health of the mother. The rule is to sleep whenever the baby sleeps, but as normal living routine starts to kick in, it becomes impossible to get the much-needed rest in the day.
A breastfeeding mother faces even more problems as the baby wakes up for feeds or diaper change every couple of hours. This can be tiring and frustrating.
If a mother does not get some help during the day and night, it becomes very hard to function through the day, and the chances of postpartum depression are too high.
Many doctors suggest that women take as much rest in the day to take care of the baby at night. But as the baby starts growing, his sleep-wake cycle starts changing along with feed timings. For a mother, it becomes very difficult to keep adjusting to the baby’s schedule.
During these desperate hours, a mother tries to do everything and with pieces of advice pouring in from every other person, she can lose her mind quickly.
The biggest challenge is to make sure that the baby sleeps peacefully through the night. No matter how hard you try and follow all the advice, a crying baby in the middle of the night becomes a nightmare after the initial months.
If a baby is completely dependent on the mother for everything, then it is impossible to expect the baby to be comfortable with anyone else. Many moms want to return to work, but sleepless nights can lead them to question their decision.
There are numerous reasons why a baby does not sleep through the night. Waking up for feeds, for a nappy change or just to get reassurance from the mother are the most common reasons for a baby to not sleep continuously. Other reasons like teething, falling sick can occur based on the age of the baby.
The best way to ensure that the baby sleeps throughout the night is to establish a bedtime routine as soon as possible. Following a routine will make sure that the baby is getting an adequate amount of sleep and a mother also benefits from this.
Tips to Make Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
A bedtime routine does not guarantee that your baby will start sleeping without waking up, but it can help in the longer run. If you do not mind the interruptions every night, it is good to let your baby take his own time to sleep. But if you are unable to cope up with the sleepless nights, then we have some tips that you can try to help your baby settle in the night.
Firstly, you need to know that if your baby is ready to start sleeping through the night. Yes, you read it right. Babies cannot start sleeping through the night directly. They need to reach certain milestones to be able to do that. The most important one is the Moro Reflex. Does our baby startle while sleeping? If the answer is yes, then you need to wait a little longer before putting your baby alone to sleep.
Newborns tend to startle after hearing a loud noise, change in the light’s intensity or a sudden touch. This is normal and one of the normal reflexes babies are born with. This startling indicates that the baby’s nervous system is developing well but can cause the baby to wake from a sound sleep. By the 6th month, Moro Reflex starts to vanish and it is the best time to develop a healthy sleeping habit.
After 6th month, if your baby still does not sleep well through the night, it may indicate other reasons. It might be an indication that your baby is on the verge to start sleeping through the night. Other reasons can be a growth spurt, sleep regressions, or too much dependency on the parents.
What Can You Do to Help Your Baby to Sleep Themselves?
A Bedtime Routine:
It is never too early to set a bedtime routine for your baby. A bedtime routine should be easy and soothing for the baby to follow. It should include activities that help your baby calm down and associate with sleep. A warm bath, dimmed lights, bedtime story, and lying quietly on the bed till they fall asleep is the easiest bedtime routine. Breastfeed or a bottle of milk can be given to them but should be taken off the routine so that they do not associate feeding with sleep.
Develop a Habit of Self-Soothing:
It is common for babies to wake up from sleep and cry. Parents often rush to the babies and swaddle them till they fall asleep. This makes babies more dependent on parents and they fail to learn to fall back to sleep by themselves.
If your baby wakes up and cries, lie next to them by placing your hand on their chest. This gives them the reassurance that you are around and a chance to go back to sleep themselves. Limit the number of times you go to them unless the cries get louder try to remain away from them. They will soon understand that it is still sleeping time and they need to fall asleep again. Self-soothing can ease their separation anxiety and break the habit of sleeping while being held in hands.
Wean the Babies of Night Feeds:
After six months, a baby should be introduced to solid foods so that their hunger is satisfied and their need for breastfeeding or bottle-feed reduces. While it is easy to feed a baby every time he wakes up, it can be a very big dependency even when they grow up. They start associating feeds with sleep, so every time they wake up they will need to be fed.
Talk to your pediatrician and with their approval start weaning the babies off night-time feeds. For a few days or weeks, try soothing them to sleep instead of feeding and they will soon realize that feeds are not necessary for sleeping.
Babies cannot differentiate between day and night and tend to sleep round the clock. As they start growing, their sleep patterns need to be adjusted according to their age. The maximum number of sleep hours should be during the night, and in the day they must sleep less. If they sleep a lot during the day, they will not sleep early and longer during the night. Follow a rigid sleep schedule for the baby as per their age.
Give the Baby a Chance to Sleep on Their Own:
By six weeks, the baby’s natural circadian rhythm starts to develop. This is nothing but their sleep-wake cycle that helps in regulating their sleep. All you have to do is understand the signs that the baby is sleepy and put them on their bed to let them fall asleep themselves. If you keep feeding them or rocking them to sleep, they will not learn to fall asleep on their own. The earlier you start this, the better.
Stick to the Same Bedtime:
If you think putting the baby to sleep late will make them sleep late in the morning, then you are wrong. Babies sleep whenever they need to. It is important to follow an appropriate bedtime every day that matches your daily routine. By the 3rd month, establishing a healthy and consistent bedtime will encourage your baby to fall asleep at the set timings themselves.
It is common for babies who sleep through the night to suddenly waking up during the nights. This can be because of growth spurts, sleep regression or teething. This is not a cause to worry. Usually, a growth spurt can affect their sleep for a few days and the others can last for a few weeks. During this time, try understanding the baby and their needs. Be patient as your baby will go back to their normal schedules as soon as the phase is over.
Not all the tips can work quickly and effectively for every baby. Each baby is different and every parent has their own commitments. It doesn’t matter which strategy works for your baby, but after trial and error, once you find it out, stick to it until your baby grows up.