Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
Caring for a baby can be a tedious task with a constant lack of sleep in the first months of his life. Therefore, it is important to learn how to organize everything so that you and your baby receive the necessary rest. There are many different methods to achieve this, you need to decide which one is best for you and your family. In this article, we will look at some of the most famous methods and give some tips to help your child start to sleep all night.
How do I get my child to sleep all night?
Unfortunately, children after birth and up to 4 months of age are in a developmental stage where they will not be able to sleep all night without disturbing their parents. Problems such as cramps, feeding, wet diapers and teething are likely to make your child wake up no matter how hard you try.
But when your baby is between 4 and 6 months old, you will feel more comfortable. By that time, children can usually eat some hard food, which slows down the onset of hunger and is not so sensitive to wet diapers. From this age there are several ways that can help you:
Swinging on hands with shortened duration
If you are trying to make your baby sleep all night and are not ready to endure crying, then lulling will be the easiest but best option. Gently rock the baby in his arms until he falls asleep. This method allows you to help your child fall asleep, and then put him to bed, while he is in a nap.
For the first few nights, rock and hug your baby as long as possible until he falls asleep. After that, pump your baby for a few minutes less as long as he starts to nap. Continue to reduce the waking time every day until you only need a few minutes before he goes to sleep.
Advantages: This is the sweetest method in which the child can avoid stress.
Disadvantages: It may turn out to be ineffective, it requires long-term daily actions, it will take a lot of time until it can significantly reduce the time of motion sickness.
children sleep all night with one or both parents, rather than in a separate room. This makes it possible to feel intimacy under the means of touch, noise, smell or taste.
A variation of this practice is sharing a bed, where children sleep in the same bed with their parents. At the same time, the child’s sleep becomes stronger, because, at the time of awakening, he can immediately calm down. In addition, mom has the opportunity to feed him faster or respond to the need to replace the diaper.
Advantages: Many studies and theories talk about the diverse benefits of sharing sleep for both the baby and mother. These include improving the emotional state (even in the long term for the child), reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, improving sleep, breastmilk production and others.
Disadvantages: There are conflicting views on safety and health when sharing a bed instead of using a separate crib. There are many cases where children were strangled by accident by their parents while sleeping in the same bed. The most common reason for such carelessness was alcohol or drug intoxication. Some studies, although fewer, on the contrary, suggest an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
Feber's method or Crying it out
This method of teaching sleep for young children was developed by American Dr. Richard Feber. The latest version of his updated book explaining the method was published in 2007. Feber's method is to teach children how to help themselves by allowing them to cry for a while before starting to calm them. According to the author, the technique is intended for children from four months of age, but some researchers argue that it is safer to start practicing it after 6 months.
As for efficiency, most parents who have tried this approach find that the length of their babies' crying is steadily decreasing over three nights and often almost disappears somewhere between the fourth and seventh nights. Sometimes a slight short-term cry can come in the place, which also disappears later.
What do we have to do? Put your baby awake, pat him, calm him down and leave the room. When he begins to cry, let him briefly give a little pause - the first time is about 3 minutes. Then return to the room and start talking in a whisper and stroking the baby to console. No need to pick him up, just talk to him and try not to linger. Then leave the room again. Any parent can do this if the other one is busy.
If the child continues to cry, you need to continue to return to the room, but without reducing a certain time interval. Speak quietly, console, and then leave the room. Do this until the baby falls asleep. In the following days, add more time to the intervals, reaching over time up to 10, and then up to 15 minutes. Therefore, this method has another name - "5-10-15".
The goal is to reduce the time of crying and waking up at night, and then increase the amount of time after which you must go back and check the baby. But regularity is important here, so you need to repeat the whole process every day.
Advantages: The method is considered one of the most effective and popular for teaching a child to fall asleep independently.
Disadvantages: This approach has been heavily criticized by pediatricians and parents. During crying, the child produces a stress hormone - cortisol. And it is known to interfere with emotional development and even kills brain cells, which is a child of this age is still and so only in the process of intensive formation. It is assumed that there may be negative consequences in the future. But studies on children over 7 months of age showed that there were no positive or negative effects. The application of Feber's method at an earlier age was not studied, without taking into account a biased study in 2012, where too few children participated, and there was no control group.
The “Pick Up Put Down” Method
The essence is very similar to the Ferber method, but only here is allowed to take a child to comfort.
Lift and put - another method of sleep training. It was popularized by Tracy Hogg in his book "The secrets of child whispering: how to calm, unite and communicate with your child.” The author believes that this is the golden mean in sleep training, because the goal of this strategy is a child who falls asleep without you, but does not feel abandoned.
Put the child to bed and then leave the room. When your baby starts to make a fuss, take your time and listen to whether it really needs attention or just a little whimper. If he cries a lot, take him in your arms and start to calm him down until he falls asleep. Repeat this cycle until he falls asleep deeply. The only problem that parents often face in this case is that if they take their child in their arms too often and then put him back in bed again, you will notice that he wakes up at the moment when they put him back in bed. So only take the child in your arms if it is really necessary.
Advantages: This method helps to calm the child more quickly.
Drawbacks: Has low efficiency, especially if you constantly lift the baby and respond quickly to crying. It makes it easier to put the baby to bed, but it is hard to get the baby to sleep all night and not cry.
Parent in the room
This is a slightly modified method of Feber, which helps the child to be calmer. You put him to bed, but do not leave, but sit down in a chair in the room. The child should see you, but he will be asked to fall asleep on his own. If the baby begins to cry - just keep sitting. Do not console or pick up. After a few nights, begin to move the chair around the room farther out of sight of the child until he can see you nearby.
Advantages: You will know for sure that your child is safe when he cries.
Disadvantages: In order for this method to take effect, a sufficiently large amount of time may be required, it usually works after a few weeks. Many parents believe that this method can cause increased protests in the child, and it will be difficult for parents to look at it.
“Let it cry”
This is the roughest method and it may seem to you that it will break your heart, but with some babies, it really works. You can start trying to do this from 4 to 6 months when you are sure that the child has drunk milk and will not be hungry for 6-8 hours. Put him in the crib, and while he is still awake, go to another room. Most likely, he will cry, but you need not to “succumb” to protesting screams.
It is important to remember that if your baby is fed and in a dry diaper, then he is fine. You will hear the difference between ordinary crying and screaming in pain. You can return to the room only when you understand that something is hurting your child or he is in danger if you know that everything is fine, just wait. Soon, the child will understand that sleep is the only option for further events.
Advantages: Minimal attention span, and thus time spent for parents.
Drawbacks: The origin of this relatively rigid method is not known. It is described on the popular foreign Internet portal newkidscenter.com, but it was not possible to find its description in more reliable sources. Therefore, the level of the negative impact of stress on the child and normal parents is likely to be incomparable with the possible effectiveness.
Additional tips to help your baby sleep better
To manage to put the child to sleep all night, you need to go to this gradually. For example:
- Try not to change diapers at night. Put a good night diaper on your baby before bed. Over time, the baby will get used to waking up when you need to change it. Change the diaper only as needed.
- Use white noise. Children should get used to sleeping under it. A white noise generator can be useful in the early stages of sleep training. A special device can be ordered on the Internet, or simply turn on these sounds online through a quality speaker.
- Create and develop bedtime rituals. In other words, carry out daily routines that signal the baby about sleep time. For example:
- Buy your baby in a warm bath
- Give a bottle
- Make sure the room temperature is comfortable enough
- Read a bedtime story
- Turn on the night lamp and ensure complete silence
- Make sure that the light is not bright, and the voices are quiet. If your child wakes up at night, try to ensure that the lighting and voice, when talking, are weak enough. Too much activity during night feedings can encourage your baby to think that it's time to stay awake
Remember that the success of a particular method will depend on your child’s temperament and your seriousness in your approach. It is important to stay consistent. Sleep training is a challenge, no matter what method you try to apply. Remember that this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to see gradual changes in your baby’s sleep patterns.