Tips on Going to Sleep, Staying Awake, and Crying
The boys' table was loud and filled with battling action figures. The girls' table was filled with quiet excitement while the cake was being prepared.
When my sister was ready to get the party rolling, she said, "Okay, are you guys ready to sing 'Happy Birthday'?" And when the girls screamed, "Yes!" all at the same time, the baby freaked out and screamed uncontrollably until she finally fell asleep.
The moral of this story is that babies can adjust to a constant stream of noise, but abrupt loud noises can put them over the top.
- Do you know the expression "you look tired"? Babies look tired when they are tired.
- Sometimes when baby is tired, his eyelids turn reddish purple or he gets a shadow under the eyes.
- People have said for years that babies beg for boundaries, and this applies to everything from eating to playing to sleeping. Babies literally beg. They scream and cry.
- For restful sleeping, keep baby comfortable and warm. Consider dressing baby in a Onesie. When it's warm outside, this can be very comfortable.
- Bathing an infant before bed can calm him. Feed him after each bath and notice if he actually sleeps longer.
- Try not to run to the rescue every time your baby becomes frustrated or cries. Let him first try to work out his problems for himself. Your restraint, difficult as it may be, is especially important when you are helping your baby learn to sleep through the night.
- Some babies rest better with a night-light in their room, and others do not. If your baby isn't sleeping well, try changing the lighting in the room. For example, use a nearby bathroom or hallway light, or nothing at all. Some babies like the dark because they were used to it in the womb.
- Try not to turn on a bright light during night feedings. It affects your baby the same way it would affect you. How would you like it if someone turned on the light and brought you breakfast in bed at 3:00 A.M.? All I know is that it would really irk me—unless I had to be at work at 4:00 A.M.
- To help baby sleep from 7 P.M. to 7 A.M. (or 8 P.M. to 8 A.M.), try putting him down for a morning nap from about 9 to 11 A.M. and an afternoon nap from about 1 to 3 P.M. Dozing is always okay—and welcomed—but sleeping deeply and for a long time after 3 P.M. can start to interfere with the baby's nighttime schedule.
- Is your baby a light sleeper? You will need to teach him that just because he wakes up raring to go whenever someone goes by doesn't mean that person necessarily intends to pick him up and take him out for a walk. Let baby learn to play alone, and be sure to have something safe in the crib for him to look at or reach for, such as an activity center.
- If your baby will not take a nap, make him spend at least an hour and a half each day in a quiet room in a crib or play yard. Babies and their parents need rest and downtime to be pleasant.
- Despite the back-and-forth you might read on this issue, I do believe that some babies need to be fed more before bedtime in order to sleep better and make it through the night. Some say it doesn't matter; others say it's vital. As a heads-up, that just goes with parenting. There are always at least two sides to everything. Just watch your baby and notice what works best for him.
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Copyright © 2006 by Jeanne Murphy. Excerpted from Your Growing Baby (5 to 8 Months) with permission of its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
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