Baby Sleep Aid
We've all heard that babies mostly sleep but that is not necessarily true. If your baby mostly slept you wouldn't be reading this article. My first son was a horrible sleeper who stumped several sleep book authors and both sleep behaviourists we hired. While you can't force a baby to sleep, you can use a baby sleep aid and techniques to encourage a baby to sleep.
A baby sleep aid can help sleep regression at each growth phase
Babies don't really organize their sleep until somewhere between the fourth and fifth month. Despite that now is the time when you should be creating a sleep routine that is convenient for you and that you will be able to continue for the next few years. Because their sleep is not yet organized you should not attempt any kind of sleep training that involves crying until a baby is at least 4 months old.
At this young age the most effective baby sleep aid you can have is a large swaddle blanket and an Ookie, which is a small cloth doll that you can put close to your neck or bosom for several hours to pick up your scent. You can leave this with your baby so he continues to smell you, even once you are gone. Swaddle blankets are critical at this age to prevent your baby from startling back awake, and to help him regulate his temperature.
During this time babies are mastering new skills at a monumental rate and enjoy the thrill of discovery. Just because you want them to go to bed doesn't mean they are ready to stop practicing things like rolling over, standing up, or opening cupboards. Even a baby who had good sleep patterns up until this point can go through phases of refusing to sleep. Once the initial thrill of their new found skill wears off and they become more physically active they may fall right back into good sleep patterns again. In addition to the Ookie, a great baby sleep aid for this growth phase is a small, soft blanket or lovey. Be sure it is very small since large blankets and stuffed animals in the crib may contribute to SIDS.
During this time babies can develop a fear of the dark or separation anxiety. Be sure to have a night light, favorite blanket or plush animal, or other sleep aid with them at all times. Ensuring they get plenty of physical activity, at least an hour a day, will help to wear them out and is an important precursor to babies sleeping through the night.
Months 24 and up
As toddlers transition from the crib to a toddler bed you may start to see some regression again. A baby sleep aid can help a toddler to re-settle on his own when he wakes during the night. Familiar white noise or music, a favorite blanket or Ookie will help provide surroundings that can help him get back to sleep without needing your presence.
Drowsy environment as a baby sleep aid
Consider the environment where your baby sleeps. Be sure the room is dark and it is a comfortable temperature. Make sure your baby is wearing comfortable clothing. Some babies are more comfortable in 100% cotton than synthetic fabrics. If there is a lot of background noise in the house, such as an older sibling or outside traffic, consider purchasing a white noise machine to drown them out. This can also be an important baby sleep aid that helps them become drowsy.
Bedtime routine is a critical baby sleep aid
It's important that you help your baby learn to expect what comes next, by creating a bedtime routine. It should take less than a week for your baby to learn a simple routine. Once you begin the routine it should actually help settle your baby and prepare him for sleep.
Which baby sleep aid and techniques work for you?
The most important thing in developing good sleeping patterns is consistency. Choose the baby sleep aid and technique that works best for you and stick with it. Eventually your baby will follow suit.
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