Saturday, 14 May 2011

Helping your baby to sleep

Today, I’m talking about the subject of sleep – you grown-ups do go on about it an awful lot!  It’s almost always the follow-up topic that strangers broach with new parents in the street; shortly after, “Aww, how old is he?” they’ll ask, “Does he sleep well?”  You’re all obsessed!
It seems that all the baby books have a section pretty near the front on how to get your little one to sleep, but in case you’ve missed them, here are my tips, and I give these to you as a nap-resistent baby.  I do sometimes feel for my mummy when I hear people telling her, “sleep when your baby sleeps” – she would, if I did!  Chores can wait – I don’t want to miss anything.
When I was much smaller, Mummy and Daddy used to get me to sleep by putting me in a sling and walking round and round the garden.  The motion was quite effective, and it did give them a well-deserved break, not to mention the exercise.  Other babies succumb with just gentle rocking in someone’s arms, while other are more hard core and insist on being taken for a ride in the car before they can fall asleep.  Even I will admit that this shouldn’t be a long-term solution for parents because it’s just not practical for one of you to be cruising round the neighbourhood every night.
My parents never resorted to the car at night, but I know Mummy has taken scenic routes to places in the day to let me sleep longer.  Rocking your baby, or any other motion, is a great soother to us, but probably best not to rely on it or use it every time you want us to head to Snoozeville.  It is important to do what’s right and appropriate for your family though, so bear that in mind.
A classic mistake parents make is overstimulating their babies when they want them to go to sleep. You might even be guilty of it yourself!  Many babies have a lovely nursery, with lots of wonderful toys and things to look at, and who can resist some of the gorgeous cot mobiles on the market these days?  And there’s the problem – they’re so distracting!  They move, they make noise, they’re brightly coloured . . .  Not really conducive to teaching a small person about sleep and nighttime.
Make the room as dark as possible, so we can tell the difference between night and day.  That way, we’ll start to learn about naps and long sleeps, too.  Don’t worry about being scared of the dark – we haven’t developed that concept yet.  You might find a bit of “white noise” helps us nod off; something like a desk fan, for example.  There are special white noise CDs available now, or try a fish tank, like one of my friends!  The dull sound can be reassuring, but it also helps drown out any other noise around the house.
I’m off for forty winks.  Sweet dreams!

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