Sleeping and Lullaby

When it comes to babies and sleep everyone will have an opinion for you that they are sure will be the answer to your sleepless nights. This is one of those times that you will have to be firm and make your own decisions about what type of sleeping routine and schedule you are going to have.

There are baby experts out there who will tell you that you should never let your baby cry as he is trying to fall asleep. The next expert will tell you that you should never give in to your crying baby once you have put him to bed. Which method is right and which is wrong? It all depends on your needs and the needs of your baby.

The guidelines in this chapter on sleep are simply that: a variety of tips and ideas that you either can or cannot attempt to incorporate into your bedtime routine.

Before you make the decision about what to do with that baby that won’t sleep is where is that baby sleeping. Some parents insist that your baby sleep in his own crib in his own room. Still other parents want their baby in their bedroom. Neither is right or wrong and there are advantages to both.

If your baby sleeps in her room you will likely get more rest for yourself since you won’t be disturbed by the snufflings and other sleeping noises that newborn babies make. Your baby may wake less often if she is in her own room but this is not always the case. If your baby is sleeping in the same room as you are, you might find it less disturbing and easy to be able to attend to your baby’s needs right there.

If you not only have your baby in the same room as you but also in the same bed, you should be aware of some of the dangers of sleeping in the same bed together. Baby experts are completely divided over the issue of sharing the same bed with your baby. You will have to research the safety versus the emotional issues and decide for yourself if you are going to be bringing your baby into bed with you.

You will likely need more sleep than your new baby. New babies most often are not able to sleep through the night until they have at least doubled their weight. This usually happens when your baby is between four and five months old. The following table shows the amount of sleep that babies should be getting. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline and don’t be discouraged if your baby doesn’t fall within the norm.

Total Hours of Sleep Needed Per Day (including naps) by Age.
1-15 days –  16-22 Hours
3 weeks – 16-18 Hours
6 weeks – 15-16 Hours
4-6 months – 14-16 Hours
9 months – 13-16 Hours
1 year – 12-15 Hours

Once you have decided how you are going to handle where your baby sleeps and just how much sleep the charts say she should have, you will want to think about getting into some sort of a routine whether or not she is going to sleep any better because of it or not. A sleep routine can be a soothing and comforting part of your baby’s nighttime ritual.

It is a way for you and your family to incorporate sleep into the daily routine without it becoming a battle of mind over baby. As your baby grows she will understand that bedtime comes after bath time and may start to settle down if she is comforted by the bedtime routine.

There are many ways that you can establish the bedtime routine. Here are some tips and ideas for bedtime routines that you might want to consider:

  1. Start the bedtime routine with a bath, some cuddle time, a song or story, a feeding, more cuddling, and then bed.
  2. Sing a soothing lullaby just before you put your baby to bed.
  3. Try to do things in the same order, with the same people involved, at that same time each night so that you create a pattern that your baby will recognize as a pre-sleep routine.
  4. Make sure the lights are low and dim. You want to make your baby recognize that when it’s dark, it’s time to sleep.
  5. Make sure that whatever routine you set up for you and your baby that there is a finality to it at the end. Your baby should learn that when you put him into bed, no matter how pleasant the bedtime routine has been, that it’s time to sleep. Give him some time to fuss.

Number five in the above list is a very important point to remember when it comes to establishing your bedtime routine. If you cuddle your baby, lay down with him, or sing to him one more time after you have put him to bed, he will come to expect that anytime he isn’t ready for sleep all he has to do is fuss and the pleasure of being rocked will be his again.

You are not trying to play a game of control with him or deny him your affection after he has been put into bed. After all, it’s normal for him to want to be with you. What you are trying to do is make him understand that after the bedtime routine is complete, it is time to sleep.

A quick note on nighttime feedings, which will be further discussed in the chapter entitled From Milk to Solids. If you are feeding your baby during the night you won’t be able to establish that bedtime routine. If your baby needs to have a feeding at night you may have to delay a good sleeping pattern until he is ready to stop feeding during the night. Most babies stop feeding during the night around five to six months.

Still on the subject of sleep, but on the more entertaining side: Lullabies. Using music to lull and soothe your baby to sleep can be an enjoyable experience for both of you. More about music in the next chapter entitled Using Music to Calm Your Baby.

The Lullaby, or Cradle Song, has been around for centuries. Whether you are singing Brahm’s Lullaby or stumbling through a tune from Sesame Street, what matters is that you are using the power of music and your voice to communicate with your baby. Singing a lullaby at some point during baby’s nighttime routine will settle him down and prepare him of the stillness of sleep.

There is so much more that can be covered under the “sleep” topic when it comes to your baby. You will have to establish your own nighttime rules by trial and error. As your baby grows older you will find that his sleep patterns are constantly changing.

What you will have established with the use of baths and lullabies are certain characteristics that can be adapted to whatever nighttime routine you come up with to fit to your baby’s age and needs. With a lot of patience and love you will able to make it through the ever-changing world of baby’s sleep.