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A child’s sleeping pattern is one of the most challenging things about having a child, especially if you are a first-time parent. The experience of having sleepless nights and the seemingly non-stop crying of a baby can add to the stress of life. That said, every parent’s knowledge comes from experience. In this article I’m going to share with you steps and some of the tips that worked for me and my wife with our three kids. Some of these tips are backed by scientific research which we have incorporated to help our own children to sleep soundly.
When we went home with our first-born cradled in my wife’s arms, we were told to keep our baby close when we slept. According to my wife’s nurse, this is according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on newborn sleeping arrangement.
We were excited and very anxious, so we did just that. I learned that by doing so, sleep-related deaths can be prevented such as, the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Keeping our baby close when we slept gave me and my wife a sense of peace in our first year of being parents. As months went on, I discovered that there are benefits to helping babies sleep on their own. When my first born turned 10 months old, my wife and I decided that it was time to train him to sleep on his own in a crib. We thought it will be beneficial to him especially in achieving a longer accumulated sleep.
I grew up in a family that let babies sleep with parents until toddler years. When I had children of my own, I tried to read more on what I think is a good way to deal with my own baby’s sleep. Newer research suggests that babies ages four to nine months are able to sleep longer on their own compared to babies at that age who shared a room with their parents. The environmental conditions and the presence of the parent in the area where baby sleeps have a direct effect on a baby’s sleeping pattern.
It was important that my baby achieved longer sleep because it was helpful in his brain development. Furthermore, it helped him to become more independent at an early age. Making him sleep on his own was sure difficult! But my wife and I adapted with several methods.
The internet is a beautiful community of first-time parents and veteran parents who are continuously learning the joys of parenting. Some of them have shared that they’ve let their children just completely cry it out (CIO method). That may sound very agonizing to new parents, however, I have come to accept that a little bit of crying is part of the sleep training process. These are the steps that my wife and I went through to help my baby to sleep in crib on his tenth month.
I personally experienced losing sleep because of the mattress I’m sleeping on (click here to see great baby mattresses for your infant) or that the heater was too high or the A/C being too cold. Imagine yourself being a baby not being able to talk yet and resorting to crying because of these reasons. Putting yourself in the position of your baby can sure help. Some of the things that has affected my son’s sleep are the presence of light in the room, the clothes he was sleeping in, and the temperature of the room. Did you know that your baby’s sleep is highly dependent on these external factors? Ensuring that these factors are well-checked before sleeping will be beneficial for you and your baby in getting a good night’s sleep.
I always make sure that my baby’s crib is clear from any obstructions as anything would either add as a distraction or a possible cause for any accident. I know that having additional obstructions in my baby’s crib would hinder him from getting enough sleep. That’s why I make sure all his toys are kept away from his sight. It was important for my baby to learn that the crib was only to be associated with sleep. Having it free from toys or even a mobile has helped him with his sleep training.
Sleep routines will become your friend as your family go through your baby’s sleep training. Your baby’s mind and body will take cues from these routines that you will establish before going to bed. Part of the routine that helped my baby get ready for sleeping is changing into his PJs. Once he puts his PJs on, his body relaxes and almost instantly yawns. Another thing that also worked for us was to put him early to sleep at around 7 in the evening. An overtired baby will just be as difficult to put to sleep as an over-excited baby. Further, this allowed my wife and I to have a little time for ourselves.
Ever noticed how you get sleepy at a certain hour? Yes? The last step that I took in helping my son sleep on his own in his crib is to observe and study his natural sleep cycle. This might be very tiring in the first few days because I had to watch my son sleep and take note of the hours he would wake. For example, in the first hour, he would sometimes jerk and twitch, which woke him up and before he could cry, I was there to pat him lightly and hush him back to sleep. This went on for a week before I slowly let him go and sleep on his own.
I took it upon myself to learn from my son’s sleeping habits and read up on some of the helpful tips for helping him through his sleep training so that one day, I will be able to contribute to the internet’s growing community of parents learning the joys of parenthood. These are some of the tips that have worked from my firstborn down to my youngest:
I’m addicted to data and statistics, and this kind of addiction allowed me to log every observable response and changes that my children went through as they sleep trained. It is helpful because it reminds my wife and I which method or step works and which doesn’t.
Many parents will agree with me on this when I say, sugar rush is very real. It’s not a myth! I did observe this one night when my second born came home from a party and it was the toughest night that my wife and I including her siblings went through. While it was a very fun night of games and laughter, my whole family just found it extremely difficult to sleep. At that moment, my wife and I had a consensus that there will be no overly-exciting activities and no sweets at all hours before bed.
This is one of the best investments that I ever bought for my children’s nursery. A night light was important for us to get because my children had different responses to light. My first-born liked it when his room had very dim light on, my second liked it completely dark, and my youngest wasn’t bothered by the light at all! If you’re looking to invest in one, the Hatch Baby Rest Night Light is a good place to start. Not only can it change colors at the touch of a button, you can also change it through an app.
This was another thing that was different for my children, but, having a little white noise as they slept helped. According to research, white noise mimics the sound that they would hear while they were in their mother’s womb. This sense of familiarity gives them a sense of security which helps ease them to sleep. A white noise machine from Aurola is something worth checking out. It has seven soothing sounds at less than $30.00
As I went about studying my children’s sleeping habits during their sleep training, the most important thing that I realized was just how different my children were from each other. Sure, I was aiming at the same goal for each of them, but how they reacted to the methods were completely different.
Of course, some of these steps and tips won’t work for every child. What’s important is, as a parent, we continuously find ways to help our children ease into becoming a person of their own thus beginning with sleep training.
To conclude, sleep training is another wonderful opportunity for parents and babies to strengthen their relationship. This may be challenging and would involve a lot of tears (from both sides), but at the end of it all, it will be worth it. You have helped your child become more independent and have enough time to work on growing your relationship with your spouse.
by Darion Robinson