Putting Baby to Sleep

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    Putting Baby to Sleep

    Once upon a time, you used to get 6-8 hours of sleep (almost) every night. Now, you have this 15-pound alarm clock that must be malfunctioning, ‘cause you can't seem to set it for a reasonable amount of time — and it is really hard to turn it off. Well, that alarm clock (also known as your kid) could just need a simple adjustment. If you've mislaid your manual, read on for some troubleshooting tips.
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    Inconsistency

    Inconsistency This is the biggest, easiest mistake to make — but thankfully, it’s also the easiest to fix. Though it can be difficult to adjust your own, grown-up schedule to it, babies thrive on routine. Even if you’re not rigid on bedtimes, having the same pre-bed rituals every night will help your baby prepare for slumber. Every family finds their own rhythm, but many people incorporate bathtime, massages, storytime or lullabies into their evening practices. Don’t forget tooth-brushing! As long as your baby knows what to expect, it should only take a couple of weeks before his internal clock aligns to the one hanging on your wall, and he’ll be ready to go down just when you want him to. Know that occasional interruptions will happen (late parties, teething, illness), and it may take your child a day or two to readjust afterwards, but he’ll get back on track!

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    “Wha—Where Am I?”

    “Wha—Where Am I?” You know that awful sense of disorientation you feel in the middle of the night when you wake up and don’t know where you are? As soon as you realize you’re in your own bed, you comfortably fall right back asleep. Your baby deserves that sense of security, too. Teach your child to fall asleep in the bed you want her to wake up in: a crib, your bed, a co-sleeper, or whatever you’re comfortable with. She will wake up at night (everybody does), and she’ll need that familiarity to help lull her back to sleep.

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    Lose the Shoulder Pillow

    Lose the Shoulder Pillow Although it can be helpful to rock/cuddle/carry your little one until he’s down for the count, transferring him can be hugely disturbing for him and for you. It can also teach him to depend upon you as a sedative. This can be the case, as well, if you usually lie down with your baby till he falls asleep. Wean yourself off these habits early or you might get stuck doing it for a long time — and toddlers can stretch bedtime out forever. Try to get your baby to bed as soon as you start to recognize his “I’m tired” signals: eye rubbing, crankiness, yawning and zoning out are some common ones. Put him down — drowsy and alone — in the same location where you want him to wake up.

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    Don’t Be a Sucker for The Suckle

    Don’t Be a Sucker for The Suckle

    When you’re sleep-deprived and know that your baby’s favorite comfort is the boob or the bottle, it can be so easy to just let her nurse to sleep. Granted, sometimes this is the only thing that works — but only sometimes. Unless you want to have to try to break a toddler of this habit (you don’t), curb this behavior early on. If your child is always nursed to sleep, she will assume that’s part of the bedtime ritual and she will have difficulty falling asleep without this.

    By the same token, don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. The sugar enzymes from formula can lead very quickly to tooth decay, which is pretty horrific in a baby. Yes, this can happen even before your baby’s teeth have come through.

    If you choose to use a pacifier as a nipple substitute, don’t jump up to replace it every time it falls out during sleep — she may wake up initially, but she’ll quickly learn she doesn’t need it to fall back into a peaceful slumber.

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    5. You Can Be Too Comfy-Cozy

    You Can Be Too Comfy-Cozy Those crib-bedding sets can be soooo tempting. They show every nursery visitor just how stylish and cool your baby is, and who doesn’t want their child to learn about good taste right from the start? But just know that many of those crib adornments are not appropriate for young babies. Suffocation becomes a real hazard when your child will be able to wiggle herself into the snugly folds of the pillows and blankets but probably won’t have the strength to wiggle out again when it starts to get uncomfortable.

    Similarly, don’t overdress your child for sleep. Babies have immature temperature regulation systems and can overheat very quickly. Besides making it tough to sleep, this can actually be dangerous to their little bodies. Instead, dress them lightly in weather-appropriate, soft sleepwear and invest in a few of those zip-on blankets that work like overalls. These come in varying weights, and your baby can’t get tangled in them. You can control the amount of warmth with undershirt layers and socks. Remember, it’s always more comfortable for your baby to sleep in a cooler (not cold!) room than to be too bundled up.

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    Nap Mishaps

    Nap Mishaps It seems counter-intuitive, but babies who skip their daytime naps often have trouble falling asleep at night. Naps help make sure your little one gets all of the sleeping time he needs in a 24-hour period, and they also help him develop a sleep pattern. Consistency and timing are key here — just like adults, your child has internal circadian rhythms, and you’ll learn to recognize his low-energy times. Try to avoid naps too close to bedtime, ‘cause it will throw his sleep cycle off. Use waking times to do activities that will wear your baby out by naptime and again by evening. Yes, there will be plenty of times when naps have to be adjusted — but try to keep to a loose schedule. Regularity in the day means he’s more likely to go down without a fight at night.

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    The Wind-Up

    The Wind-Up You know this feeling. You’ve just watched a thrilling hockey game or scary movie, and you’re too excited to sleep. Well, it makes sense that babies can experience that feeling too — who wants to go to bed when it could mean missing all the fun? Try to wrap up stimulating activity like vigorous play, television and that weekly rave you hold in your living room at least an hour before bedtime, so that the thrill can wear off.

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    8. Don’t Poke the Bear

    Don’t Poke the Bear Very young children do need to eat every few hours, and some very small babies sleep heavily enough that pediatricians recommend waking them to feed (and putting them immediately back down again). However, after about 4 months, your baby will probably be able to sleep “through the night,” or about 5 uninterrupted hours. Also, you do not need to change your baby’s diaper overnight (unless she has a blowout that wakes her up). If your baby went to sleep with a full tummy and is happily off in dreamland, let her sleep. You may have a week or so of waking in a panic and staring at her for half an hour, making sure she’s still breathing. Eventually, though, you’ll be comfortable with the fact that she’s just catching her Zs, and you’ll be able to get some rest, too.

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