Parenthood is indeed a magical experience, and perhaps the most important and meaningful chapter in our lives. But in between the special moments and memories can be times of real frustration, because babies in particular have a unique disregard for the comforts and wishes of their parents.
Nowhere is this difference more evident than at home, at night, when the entire family is asleep … until … until …
Crying. Long, loud crying. Crying with no apparent cause, reason or goal. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to deal with if you could just get some rest? Unfortunately, rest is the very thing that your baby’s crying prevents.
It is the rare baby that sleeps peacefully through the entire night, but nevertheless there may be reason for hope. For thousands of years, new parents around the world have tried everything to keep their homes quiet at night, and together they have come up with several useful tips. The following may not solve all of your problems, but as you’ve surely come to believe by now, any relief from these sleepless nights must indeed be worth pursuing.
- Give your baby a sleep routine. Starting at about three months of age, babies become receptive to following regular bedtime routines. When putting your baby to bed, make sure the entire home and family is quiet for some time before you begin – and then go through a night-time ritual that your baby can learn and become familiar with. The routine might involve a bath, a change into pyjamas, then a song, story or lullaby. Over time, their brains will associate that ritual with sleep, and their bodies will follow suit. Sleep training will not be an overnight cure, so if you think it’s not working, just keep trying.
- Separate day and night. Babies take some time to learn their circadian rhythms, but by keeping daytime lively and interesting, and night-time relatively quiet and peaceful, babies will adjust their body schedules to the predictable flow of the day’s events, slowing down their internal activity at the end of the day.
- Give your baby something to hold onto. Babies like to clutch onto a blanket, teddy bear or other object for security. They may also be missing you at night, so it may be worthwhile to rub the object onto your skin, or for mothers to put a little breast milk on it, to make it smell like you. Small details such as these can relax your baby’s instincts at night, letting it sink back into the arms of sleep.
- Understand your baby’s limits. If your baby has difficulty sleeping at night, it may be because they were pushed too far during the day. Babies can only stay awake for short periods, and a day filled with too much excitement may put too much of a physical demand on their bodies, throwing off their sleep patterns. If you want your baby to respect your need for sleep at night, you should also try to respect the need for your baby to sleep during the day.
- Give your baby the comfort it needs. Your baby might really need you when they start crying at night. Check if their nappy needs changing, or if they need to be fed, or if the room temperature needs adjusting. Sometimes if there is no material need, the baby may simply miss being held.
- Try not to create a dependency. Babies learn routines fairly quickly, which can be a good thing – but can also create some unintended side effects. If your baby learns that being rocked or fed leads to sleep, then it may not be able to sleep without being rocked or fed. Some mental associations are good, natural and easy to maintain, but others (such as feeding) can end up being a burden on the mother. The trick is in creating the right type of associations for your baby to sleep, which are sensible and easy to reproduce.
It is important to keep in mind that babies – just like all other people – are different, and no single piece of advice will work for every family. It may take some time for you to learn what approach is best for your baby, and for your baby to learn what you expect from it.
When … eventually … the cries do grow quieter, there are other steps you can take to sleep more soundly yourself. Being proactive in protecting your child and your family can set your mind truly at ease, letting you stop worrying and sleep soundly at last.
At Luma, we offer comprehensive childrens' health insurance plans, to keep your child covered for any medical needs. Our Thailand health insurance plans go above and beyond - offering a second medical opinion from our in-house doctors, to reassure you and your family. We also recommend taking specific steps to protect them against disease, including essential vaccinations that will protect them for years from some of the world’s most serious illnesses.
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