A great way to do a little research before hand is to pick up a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Dr Marc Weissbluth, a well-regarded pediatrician and dad of four, penned the book. The author helps identify the difference between daytime and nighttime sleep, how to cope with the crybaby syndrome, common mistakes parents make in attempting to put an infant to bed along with gobs of other invaluable tidbits.
Many of us need this magical wonder just to fall asleep with a snoring husband or heavy-breathing dog. Especially in apartments and condos, shared walls by noisy neighbors can become frustrating for you and baby. The ever-popular humidifier with a constant hum can work magic and is great for dry climates and winter months when the heat is kicked on full blast. Some nurseries have fans overhead that help create a soft noise. Bring in a CD player or set your iPod in the speaker cradle to soft, classical music to get the baby to sleep — this is supposed to improve creativity later in life as well.
Try and be flexible the first couple months. Think how long it took you to fall asleep peacefully in a new house or apartment, this is a new world for baby! Learn to read and understand your baby's personality and temperament. Infants go through a variety of developmental states that can be disruptive to sleep. While some babies sleep through the night once they hit 14 pounds others might struggle for months, and even years. But by taking a step back and acknowledging that your baby wants to sleep through the night just as much as you do is a step in the right direction. What might work one month, might not the next, have a handful of ideas on the back burner just in case.
Starting a schedule during the second or third month doesn't hurt, especially for active infants. This will help signal a time to wind down. Maybe a bath, story, song, feeding, then time for baby to relax and fall asleep. Don't become momzilla if the schedule has to change every now and then for extra time with grandparents or an appointment, but gradually try and get into a routine. Many mothers report that putting baby to bed at an earlier hour such as 7 pm or 8 pm helps the infant sleep better through the night as he or she will wake up less frequently.
• Be patient, it may take an infant 20 minutes or more of movement, restlessness and soft cries before he or she falls asleep.
• Don't pick up the infant every time he or she cries when attempting to fall asleep, this can lead to poor habits such as the baby believing someone will come to his or her rescue every time a cry is let out.
• Try and maintain at least a two-hour interval between daytime feedings. If a baby is fed more frequently, he or she might awake more during the night needing small feedings.
• During nighttime feedings, make the meal quick and unentertaining. This will help aid baby in understanding nighttime is for sleep, not playing or cuddling and they will soon learn to quickly go back to bed.
• Try and keep daytime naps to no more than three hours at a time. This will help the baby learn that nighttime is for the long slumbers and daytime is for shorter bouts of sleep.
• This is a cultural debate, but many pediatricians recommend not allowing baby to sleep in your bed. The saying goes, once they move in, they never want to move out.
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