How many times in the last few weeks have you tried to get your baby or young children to sleep but to no avail? 1 a.m. and they are wide awake along with you of course. Millions of families go through this every night. Falling asleep and staying asleep can be a challenge for infants but always remember that it will end. When all else fails, baby sleep aids can help you to get some of the deep sleep you deserve and crave, but how often do babies wake up in the night normally?
Make Sure You Understand Your Baby’s Sleep Needs
During the first 2 months of your child’s life, your newborn’s need to eat overrules his need to sleep. If breastfeeding, your infant may feed every 2 hours and maybe a little less often if using formula.
Your infant may sleep from 10 to 18 hours a day and this can sometimes come in chunks of 3-4 hours at a time. The problem is that babies don’t know the difference between the night time and the day time. Your baby’s awake time may be from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. so this is something that would need some attention to try and change.
Having a set sleep schedule is a great way to start getting your infant used to a routine and understanding that night time is bed time. A bedtime routine is something that is great for infants as well and will be helpful through the toddler years.
The problem is that there are many baby sleep aids available, so which one do you choose? Here are a few examples of baby sleep aids that are commonly used and that you may wish to try to see if they’ll help to solve your baby’s sleeping problem and have them sleeping through the night.
Is a security blanket helpful for achieving natural sleep?
Firstly, how can you go wrong with the good old blanket? At some point, every single one of us has clung on to a blanket as babies. The comfort, security, and warmth will leave a baby feeling cozy and allow him to relax if he’s having trouble sleeping. It’s one of the best and most used baby sleep aids ever.
As a variation of this, you could use some other transitional object such as a teddy bear, or possibly mom’s t-shirt, so that your baby can settle down with a smell that he or she is comfortable with.
Are night lights too distracting?
Unfortunately though, there are times when a blanket or other transitional object just won’t be enough, so you may wish to consider utilizing another baby sleep aid or baby sleep technique. Night lights are also common baby sleep aids and can help make your child feel a little more comfortable in their dark surroundings.
Studies show that although we may not know it, babies may often wake up and cry because they aren’t used to being alone and they don’t recognize their surroundings. A night light will give them security when they open their eyes.
Cradle-rocking is a widely practiced infant sleep aid that has been used as long as we know, but some sleep researchers are concerned that this will have babies associate falling asleep with being rocked in the cradle.
Infant massage? How about momma massage!
Although many cultures practice infant massage for many reasons, including sleep, there has been little research on its effectiveness an an infant sleep aid. But a massage can many times put a grown up to sleep so why wouldn’t it work for an infant?
In one study, researchers assigned a group of mothers to introduce their babies to a massage during their bedtime routine. The massage didn’t seem to make babies fall asleep any faster, but it seemed to help in other ways.
In another study, babies who received massage before bed for 14 days seemed to adapt more quickly to the natural rhythms of day and night (Ferber 2002).
How about sound machines or nature sounds?
Being in familiar surroundings and being able to see the baby toys above the bed or stars on the ceiling will put them at ease. Music or sounds are also great types of baby sleep aids you might want to try if you haven’t already. Soft, carefree music such as classical musical at low volumes is very soothing for a baby’s ears which can help get them to sleep.
Very popular these days are noise machines that make background noise and typically emit white noise. White noise, which can sound horrible to adults, can be extremely soothing for a baby, but do they actually help babies to sleep and to stay asleep? The study results seem to say yes. In an experiment involving newborns, 80% of infants listening to white noise fell asleep on their own within 5 minutes. Only 25% of control infants fell asleep without outside assistance.
There are also white noise CD’s you can buy with the sound of a vacuum cleaner or washing machine etc. Even the sound of the car or driving around in the car seat can be enough to lul an infant to sleep in moments. Again, these sound rather strange but really can help.
Always make sure to keep the volume turned down so it’s not loud and damaging your infants little ears. We always set ours to be a little bit higher than just background noise. We do this to drown out some of the natural background noise in our house and neighborhood.
Swaddling is another one that has been used forever, but be careful.
Swaddling a baby means wrapping the little nugget up so he feels secure and isn’t prone to moving around during the night. It is thought that the wrapping simulates the comfort and security of having mom around. Research supports the idea that this helps baby sleep.
Swaddling can be an effective infant sleep aid but there are some important precautions to take to make sure that your baby is safe.
This seems like an obvious one but make sure that you don’t wrap your baby so tight that he can’t breathe deeply or properly. Tight swaddling has been linked with higher rates of respiratory infections.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there is a potential for your baby to overheat, especially if you are covering your nuggets head or if he has a fever to start with. I never remember wrapping the head as well so this was never a big concern for me but it is something to keep in mind.
When wrapping up your infant, leave enough wiggle room for them to rotate their hips and move their knees. Completely immobilizing your infant puts them at risk for hip displasia among other things.
There is evidence that swaddling can increase the risk of SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome. The highest risk is associated with swaddled babies who are placed on their stomachs but babies placed on their sides or backs seem to be at less risk.
Experts recommend that if you are going to swaddle your baby, always put them on their back and once your child appears to be able to turn themselves over in bed, stop swaddling altogether.
Although all of these are all capable baby sleep aids and many parents will testify to their effectiveness, it is also possible that none of them may work for your child to change their sleep habits. No two children are the same and so there is unfortunately no single cure-all for infant sleep problems.
However, with some tried and tested baby sleep techniques, a good sleep routine and the odd baby sleep aid thrown in for good measure, you and your baby can soon be getting the full nights sleep that you richly deserve.