Get your baby to sleep through the night
Becoming a parent comes with many joys and some challenges. One thing that many new parents are concerned with is how to get their baby to sleep through the night, or at least part of the night. There are many creative techniques people have come up with over the years but I would like to focus on two of the classics which I find very effective, this is swaddling and “the pause”.
Use swaddling to get your baby to sleep through the night
Swaddling has evolved over they years. It has a very long history dating back to prehistoric times. Previously swaddling consisted of wrapping a baby in cloth using bands to secure the wrapping and sometimes attaching the baby to a board for several months. It is now recommended to swaddle a baby for the first few months after birth. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition suggests swaddling for the first few months in combination with a few other techniques as a very effective way to get your baby to sleep through the night. Modern swaddling can be done with a receiving blanket or a winged swaddling blankets.
Suggestions for winged swaddling blankets:
If you would like to use a receiving blanket, here are the steps for swaddling:
How to swaddle your baby with a receiving blanket:
1. Place the blanket in front of you in a diamond shape
2. Fold down the top corner, bring it towards the center so that the length of the fold is about as long as the baby is tall.
3. Lay your baby down on the blanket so that her or his neck is on the fold
4. Gently place your baby’s right arm at his or her side and hold it in place.
5. Fold the left corner of the blanket over your baby’s body and tuck it under her or his back snugly but comfortably.
6. Gently place your baby’s left arm at his or her side and hold it in place.
7. Pull up the bottom corner of the blanket and tuck it under your baby’s left shoulder, it should be between her or his shoulder and the back of the blanket.
8. Fold the right corner of the blanket over your baby’s body and tuck it under her or his back snugly but comfortable.
Let your baby cry
Letting your baby cry it out is a concept many people talk about and write about. Although I tried the technique of “tough love” and it worked, where I let my daughter cry herself to sleep all night, this is not what I am suggesting here. I tried this when my daughter was about six months old and we let my daughter’s sleeping habits get the better of us and we had no other choice.
When my daughter was a newborn we had tried another technique and she started sleeping through the nights by the time she was one month old. After a couple vacations and some jet lag, my daughter no longer slept through the night, we were tired of not sleeping and we had to try “tough love”. I would suggest this for other parents who like me, made some errors and ended up feeding a baby five times a night at six months. For new parents I would suggest the following technique.
“The Pause”, a French technique
Pamela Druckerman talks about this concept in her book Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I, like Pamela Druckerman learned something from living in Paris and talking to other moms. I remember talking about my newborn baby crying at night and people would ask me what kind of cry it was. I thought, it’s loud and annoying and I was sure it meant that my daughter was hungry or needed to be changed. Besides, why else do babies cry?
That is when a friend told me that babies need to test their voice and that the sound of their voice comforts them. It seemed strange to me but she told me to stop, pause and listen to the cry. I did and I noticed that many times my daughter was just making little cries that were not very needy. When I did not go to her, she just went back to sleep. It turns out my daughter was ready to “do her nights” at one month old, I was the one keeping her awake by running to her and stuffing milk in her and changing a practically dry diaper.
In addition to getting a full night’s sleep, letting your child sooth herself or himself to sleep builds self confidence and independence because the baby understands that he or she can put himself or herself to sleep. By assisting here, the baby feels that he or she is unable to sleep alone and needs us.
How to practice “The Pause”
- Your baby wakes up in the night and cries. You wait about three to five minutes before going to him or her.
- If your baby still cries after five minutes and the cry has become more urgent, go to him or her because they may need something.
- Your baby may also stop crying and go back to sleep.
- Try again next time and you may see that it only takes three minutes this time for your baby to go back to sleep.
- Continue this for a few days and you will see your baby sleeping through the night.