Despite wishing it were so, it’s not possible to click your fingers and hypnotize your baby to sleep, although that would be wonderful! Sleep is not something you can force on someone, regardless of how much you want or need them to drift off. However, setting the scene for sleep on a nightly basis can be an excellent way of establishing good habits and making sure that your baby knows that nighttime is sleep time.
Recognize the signs of tiredness
7pm might be bedtime most nights, but if your baby is displaying signs of tiredness earlier, put him to bed earlier. An overtired baby is harder to settle and will be more likely to wake during the night. You may even need to spend half an hour or so with him helping him to wind down after a particularly hectic day.
Make his crib comfortable and welcoming
The crib should be positioned in a warm (or cool) spot in the room, should be clean and dry and arranged with the covers neatly tucked in.
Make sure he’s clean, dry and fed
A baby who has been bathed, dressed in clean, dry pyjamas, had his diaper freshly changed and has a contented tummy really should have no reason not to feel sleepy!
Create an environment that’s conducive to sleep
Turn the lights down low. If your baby’s room has shutters, blinds or drapes that block out light from outside, even better. Total darkness is not necessary, and if there is a little light present, for instance from a night-light or a soft lamp, it will mean you can check on him without disturbing him. Aromatherapy can be useful in helping a baby to wind down. Essential oils of lavender and chamomile are recommended.
Sounds to sleep by
Remember that your baby spent nine months, give or take, in your womb and listened to your heartbeat and other exotic sounds while there. Pure silence isn’t necessary for sleep and your baby will feel comforted by rhythmic, soft sounds in the background as she drifts off to sleep. Classical music can be relaxing and if you can play a CD that runs for an hour, it can turn itself off and your baby should already be in the Land of Nod. Also, an old clock that ticks and tocks can be a delightful sound. The best thing about it is, it doesn’t stop unless the batteries need changing. A fan, air conditioner or the washing machine or dryer in the next room can all provide â€˜white noise’ that a baby can tune in, and then out, to.
Babies respond beautifully to routine and consistency. By trying your best to maintain the night time routine, your baby will come to know what to expect, and by the time you bring out the lavender oil, he’ll know it’s time to lay his head down to sleep.
Going to bed awake
Ideally, your baby should be put in his crib awake so that he can wind down and go off to sleep without assistance. Your reassurance and comforting will help him to understand that he’s loved and safe, and by learning to put himself to sleep, he will learn behaviors that will stand him in good stead in other areas as well. Of course, if he’s asleep when you put him to bed, that’s fine too! No one likes to wake a sleeping baby because a child who is asleep is like 24-carat gold : rare, precious and delightful to behold.