Some babies moving into the 2nd year of life may not have learned how to get themselves to sleep. They may have been nursed until snoozing, then gently placed in their cribs. While this is not a bad thing, some babies have trouble staying asleep all night once they start going into their cribs while still wide awake. At some point, a baby has to learn to get herself to sleep. Here are loving ways you can help:
- Be sure bedtime is quiet time. One of the most important things you can do is move the household into quiet mode when your child's bedtime approaches. Avoid television programs, loud music, and romping play — your child may become over-stimulated and find it hard to calm down. Make bath time and putting-on-pajamas very slow and low-key. Read a couple of favorite stories, such as Goodnight Moon, while snuggling in a chair. Once you're ready to take your tot to his crib, dim the lights in his room. Calmly tell him it's bedtime, and give him a soothing backrub after gently putting him in bed.
- Take her outside. Give your toddler opportunities to be in the fresh air a lot during the day, even on colder days. Bundled up warmly, your little one will use up a lot of muscular energy outdoors, and that will make sleep time easier.
- Shorten naps. Some toddlers need less sleep during the day. See if a shorter daytime nap will ease your child's ability to sleep more soundly at night.
- Keep him regular. Some toddlers awaken because they did not make a bowel movement during the day. They poop in their diapers at night and then feel uncomfortable and wake up. If this is the case, be sure you feed your toddler fruits, such as pear slices, that promote easy bowel movements. A child who moves bowels during the day is less likely to do so at night.
- No midnight play. If your child does wake up in the middle of the night, do not turn on a light and play with him or read a story, as much as he may want you to. Nighttime is for sleeping, not playing. It may take time for your little one to learn this, but it is well worth your persistence and patience. Just gently pat his back, and quietly let him know it's time to go back to sleep.
- Consider family stresses. Think hard about any changes in your family life that may affect your child's sleep routines. Sometimes when parents are quarreling or under stress, a baby lets the family know that the tensions are affecting him by sleep troubles or feeding difficulties. Naturally, you will want to address any sources of stress and maintain a calm and reassuring demeanor with your child.
All in all, be patient with your little one as she learns to sleep through the night. It may help to remember that, just like teething problems and (soon enough) potty training, this too will pass. Before you know it, your child (and you!) will settle into getting a good night's sleep!
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