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Methods to Help Baby Sleep

May 19, 2008
The one question every new parent (and many seasoned ones) must ask themselves is 'how can I help my baby sleep through the night?' Sadly babies don't come with a user manual (or an off switch) so it's up to parents to discover the methods that work best.

Of course, every baby's different and what works for one will not work for all, but for a few weeks of trial and error it's well worth exploring all the options available to you.

Routine
You can't beat a consistent routine when it comes to structuring baby's day. If he knows what to expect and when to expect it, it will be no surprise when bedtime comes around.

Comfort
Swaddling and dummies/pacifiers both offer comfort to a newborn. Swaddling helps the baby control his unruly arms and dummies offer oral comfort as the mouth and eyes are really the only body parts a newborn has any control over. A bottle or the breast directly before bedtime also provide this sucking comfort and ensure baby is comfortably full.

Plenty of Sleep
Newborns need a lot of sleep - both at night and daytime naps - and it could be lack of naps that is stopping the nighttime sleep. Over tiredness will cause a baby to scream uncontrollably because they're just trying to block the world out so make sure he gets plenty of time to rest and process everything that's happened during the day.

Activities and Exercise
On the flip side of that is activities and exercise. Baby will get very bored if he's stuck indoors all day so take him out and about. Let him experience new things (even if it is just a stroll around the supermarket) and you'll have one curious, and hopefully tired, little baby.

Dream Feed
To extend the length of time baby can go through the nigh without waking for a feed try introducing a dream feed. Before you go to bed gently lift baby from the cot and let him drink from the bottle or breast. Baby won't wake up properly (which is why it's called a dream feed) but his belly will be full and he should give you a few hours uninterrupted rest.

Don't Give Up
All babies are different and it may take a while to find out exactly what your baby needs. If you are struggling then make a note of when he sleeps and eats and when he gets grumpy and you'll soon work out an appropriate routine for him.
About the Author
Nicola Pedley is the editor of Baby Boom Boom and believes every parent can help baby sleep
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