Your baby isn’t going to sleep through the night right away. Of that fact, you can be certain. Babies have to adjust to life outside the womb, and that takes time. There are many different adjustments babies have to make when it comes to sleep, not the least of which are things like daylight, noise and activity level. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to encourage your baby to sleep, and to reduce the number of nighttime awakenings that your baby experiences.
Here are some things you can do to help your baby at bedtime to sleep longer and deeper:
- Don’t let in too much light. Controlling the amount of light that goes into your baby’s room during bedtime (and even at naptime) is essential to helping your baby get the sleep that she needs. The room doesn’t need to be pitch black, but it does need to be very dark. You want to dampen the potential visual stimuli that your baby could be facing. You don’t want him to get distracted by the sight of his own toes, for example.
- Control the temperature. You want to make sure that your baby’s bedtime sleep area is warm, but not too warm. Babies are more vulnerable to losing heat when they sleep than adults, and if they get cold that will wake them up. However, overheating is considered a risk factor for SIDS, so you can’t let it get too warm, either. The ideal temperature in your baby’s room should be somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees, regardless of what time of year it is. Dress your baby in a onesie and, preferably, a sleep sack rather than traditional blanket.
- Avoid stimulators. Help your baby to develop an association of bedtime with sleep, rather than with playtime. Get rid of toys in the crib. Those toys can also create a suffocation hazard, in addition to distracting your baby when she should be sleeping anyways. If you use a mobile, take it down during naptime.
- Watch the noise level. Depending on the layout of your house, this can be hard to control. In many cases, white noise such as static on a radio station or even a baby sleep CD can be helpful at blocking out other sounds that might wake your baby up.