Any child specialist will tell you that sleep is very important for mental and physical development of your baby. So, how can you maximize restorative sleep for your infant or toddler?

Research shows that following a bedtime routine can greatly enhance the ease of managing your child’s sleep pattern. Here are a few pointers for creating a comfortable environment to get your child to sleep better:

When your baby is around 6-8 weeks, start with a calming bedtime ritual. This could be anything from a gentle massage, a soothing bath, dimming the lights and reading, or a simple lullaby and feed. It depends on your baby’s personality and you know by now what they respond best to – just try and make it as consistent a routine as you can.

Remember, familiarity of the sleeping space is very important. Maintain the same place for sleep, so that if they were to wake up, they do not become disoriented.

Just as baby gets relaxed and drowsy, a good habit is to put baby to bed before he/she is completely asleep. This develops their own ability to lull themselves to sleep. Make sure you don’t wait too long to do that, as there is a window when they will be able to do this, and if it is crossed, then they have a hard time getting back to that relaxed state. Look for sleepy signals like rubbing their eyes, fussiness, laying down their head.

Most babies will invariably get up some time during the night. Managing sleep interruptions well is key to preserving sleep continuity. The most common reason for babies to wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle is a wet diaper. Invest in all-nighter diapers of good quality to avoid wetness that results in baby being uncomfortable and wiggly and thus waking up. A dry baby sleeps longer.

Needless to say, minimize any loud noises or voices of adults or other children. Additionally, however, it is important to note that too much silence is also considered less than optimal. The ideal conditions are some low lullaby music in the background as the baby sleeps.

A common mistake most new parents make is to rush to their sleeping child at the slightest whimper. It is advisable instead to wait for them to manage their own sleep. Don’t rush to pick them up and disturb them with your presence and energy. If they seem reasonably comfortable, just wait and see. Seeing you and hearing you will wake them up and unnecessarily cause them to be active again.

For adults as well as children, being well-fed translates into better sleep. Especially with infants, make sure they complete their feed and don’t sleep mid-way, else they are prone to wake back up and be cranky. Use distraction tactics to not let them sleep half-way through their feeding, so that once they do get to sleep, they sleep soundly, and preferably through the night.

Lastly, since every baby is different, it is best to observe and keep notes of what works for your baby. Once you know the triggers, it is easy to avoid them and get the best night’s sleep for your child.

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