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الثلاثاء، 15 فبراير 2011

Getting babies to sleep

Ask any new parent what they miss most and the answer is probably sleep. The methods below can get you and your baby sleeping peacefully.
It’s easy to get fixated on sleep, or the lack of it. But for the first couple of months of your baby’s life, it’s best to be relaxed about when and how much you sleep.
At first, your baby will need regular feeding, day and night, so sleep when your baby sleeps. Don’t worry about bedtime routines, washing and housework: these are early days. You need your sleep too, and if you’ve been awake at night, you need to catch up on sleep during the day. 
Learning about night and day
When your baby is a few weeks old, they'll be more alert and awake during the day. This is a good time to help them learn the difference between day and night. During the day, open the curtains to let in daylight, play games and don’t worry about everyday noises when they sleep.
At night, speak quietly, keep the lights dimmed and don’t play with them. Gradually, your baby will learn that nighttime is for sleeping. 
Bedtime routines
You may feel ready to think about a bedtime routine when your baby is around three months old. Even if naps and night feeds are still unpredictable, getting into a calming bedtime rhythm can be helpful for everyone. It is good one-to-one time with your baby. Here’s what to do:
  • Do the same thing every night. Knowing what is going to happen will make your baby feel relaxed and secure. 
  • Begin to calm down activity in the room about an hour before your baby’s bedtime. 
  • A bath is a good way to wind down after a busy day. Have a splash, sing a song and play with some bath toys. 
  • Dim the lights in the room where your baby sleeps to create a calmer atmosphere. 
  • Put pyjamas and a fresh nappy on your baby and read a bedtime story.
  • Put your baby into bed on their back and give them a cuddle and a kiss.
  • Sing a lullaby or use a wind-up musical mobile that you can turn on when you’ve put your baby to bed. 
  • Leave the room.
Leave while your baby is still awake
Leave the room when your baby is happy and relaxed, and they'll get used to drifting off to sleep all by themselves. This way, if the baby wakes in the middle of the night, they're more likely to get back to sleep by themselves, rather than crying until you settle them back to sleep.
This doesn’t mean that your baby needs to be in a room of their own. The Department of Health recommends that a baby should sleep in the same room as you for the first six months. 
No bedtime feasts
Leave a little time between your baby’s feed and bedtime. If you feed your baby to sleep, then feeding and going to sleep will be linked in your baby’s mind. When they wake in the night, they'll want a feed to help them go back to sleep.
Don’t rush in
If your baby murmurs in the night, leave them for a few minutes and see if they settle on their own.    
Be consistent
React to their cries in the same way each night. If you pick them up right away one night but leave them to cry for a few minutes the next, they won’t know what to expect.
Be flexible
All new babies change their patterns. Just when you think you have it sorted and you’ve all had a good night’s sleep, the next night you might be getting up every two hours. 
Once the routine has become settled, be prepared to change as your baby grows and enters different stages. Daytime naps, for example, may need to be cut down as your baby gets older. Growth spurts, teething, illnesses and colds can all affect how a baby sleeps

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