Measures to prepare the child to sleep, how to accustom a child to sleep again in the bed, helps the child to distinguish the nap from the night sleep: they are some of the 10 ideas to get used to sleep a child from 4 months to 2 years.
“Every child is unique, every mother is different from the others, and every family is a special case,” says the American family consultant Elizabeth Pantley. The counselor suggests a series of ideas to get the babies and children used to sleep, recommending to choose the ones that seem most suitable for the baby and the family.
From her point of view, only the parent is able to really decide what the right answer for the situation is.
Once you have chosen a hint of favorite suggestions from those proposed in the book, you need to organize a program (and maybe hang it in the bathroom mirror or on the fridge) and follow it to the letter for at least 2-3 weeks before seeing any changes.
Furthermore, it is essential to put the child’s sleep in the first place among the family priorities for a month or two so that the new rhythms are consolidated. After 10 days, (especially with children who are more than 4 months old) it is important to analyze the results by adjusting the shot with any changes, if necessary.
“The goal is not a straight path and simple even if the program is implemented perfectly. On the contrary, it looks rather like a ballet: two steps forward, one back and even, occasionally, a few side steps, “explains Elizabeth Pantley.
Here are ten tips to help children aged 4 months to two years sleep …
1. Prepare the baby for sleep: little useful precaution
– If you are breastfed exclusively or formulated milk, it is advisable to check that you are eating enough food during the day. No matter, according to the author, some babies eat a disproportionate amount of calories of their daily needs only at night. To sleep more, they need to move slowly the moments of breastfeeding towards the daytime hours. For those who have already been weaned, however, and eat solid foods, it is essential to remember that a healthy diet (therefore varies) also affects sleep, as well as the general state of health.
- One idea is to increase the diurnal feedings, so that it has a full stomach.
- The child must be comfortable at night: the place where he sleeps (whether it is a bed with her parents, cradle or bed) must be suitable for him/her, not too soft or soft and the temperature of the room is crucial for her comfort ( if it’s too hot or cold, it will not sleep!).
2. Find an evening routine
The author lists a series of possibilities and suggests choosing the one that could please her parents and the child, following them to the letter every evening:
- Take a relaxing and warm bath
- Massage it
- Read books
- Sing songs
- Listen to sweet music
- Take a walk
- Rock it
3. Get the baby to bed early
A child overworked, tired or too excited to be able to calm down will have even more difficulty falling asleep. The idea that keeping it up late, then making it “collapse” does not give good results, indeed, often, it is totally counterproductive.
You may also like to read: How To Make Your 6-Month-Old Baby Sleep
4. During the day, it is important to follow a flexible but habitual routine
The author explains that a certain regularity in daytime hours, feedings, diaper changes, various activities, help to mature the baby’s biological clock.
For example, if parents like to sleep more on Saturday mornings, it may be detrimental for a child to lose her acquired habits. It is necessary to avoid the ‘haphazard’ days, where the events follow each other without any rules (wake up one day at 7 and the next day at 9, lunch once at 11.30 and the next one at 13.30 …).
5. Have him/her take naps
Every child is different and therefore the need for naps changes but they help to better balance the periods of sleep and wake and positively influence nighttime sleep.
Typically, the best times are these …
- If the baby is 3 naps: mid-morning, early afternoon and early evening.
- If the baby is 2 naps: mid-morning and early afternoon.
- If the baby takes a nap: early afternoon.
In any case, responding readily to signs of fatigue, recognizing them, is essential.
6. Let it fall asleep differently
If the child is waiting for a single specific signal to fall asleep, it is useful to teach him/her that he can sleep in different ways. It’s easier to start with naps: does the baby fall asleep while cradled or in the stroller? Well, in any case, it is advantageous to find out which alternative system can make it fall asleep, so if it works, there will be at least two different methods available. To help the child to ‘self-consolation’, if mum or dad are not in the vicinity to a sudden awakening, it is of great help to have a ‘friend of the heart’ (what in psychology is called a transitional object). A puppet, a cover, a little game (obviously safety proof) are excellent allies.
7. Nap and nocturnal sleep must be different and recognizable for the baby
According to the author, it is very important that the baby, when he wakes up, understands if he has slept during the day or if he is still in the middle of the night. To help him/her, with time, to distinguish these moments, the expert suggests to make the night-time environment unmistakable with some tricks …
- If the baby wakes up at night, it is not good to have a conversation but to limit yourself to a few words (like ‘good night!’, ‘Shhh’).
- It’s not a good idea to turn on the lights. Even a 25-watt bulb can trigger a baby’s biological clock in the ‘daytime’ mode.
- Gestures and movements must be slow and calm.
- If you need to change the diaper, it is good to do it quickly with a towel warm and not cold and wet that would wake up completely.
- If light enters the window, in the evening or early in the morning, it is advisable to put heavy curtains.
- In the sleep zone, there must not be mountains of toys but only her heart puppet. If you wake up in the middle of the night, you do not have to get the idea of playing!
You may also like to read: The sleep of the newborn: 10 tips to improve your baby’s rest
8. Special words or a lullaby before going to sleep
An idea that can prove effective, according to the author, is to associate some special words (which should look like a whisper) at the time of sleep, for example: ‘Night-night, shh-shh, night-night!’. When the baby is sleepy and quiet, just repeat the words so that they become a habit for him/her. A good alternative is the simple melodies, like those of traditional lullabies; they help many children to relax. But even a CD with recordings of the sounds of nature is pleasant and can be very effective.
9. If necessary, change the routine
Often, the parent follows the same routine with the baby from the time of birth, and often the last activity before bedtime is to breastfeed or give him/her a bottle. In some cases, the baby may need to change this last activity to fall asleep well. The only way to understand this is to carefully observe the child by assessing whether a change is appropriate. According to the author, it could be effective to introduce a massage, pampering or special words to help the baby fall asleep better. All this over time will replace the milk and the baby will sleep longer.
Who sleeps together with the baby, can set themself the goal to get used to it, slowly, to go back to sleep when he wakes up, without asking for milk. If the baby makes a sound but does not look for the breast, you do not need to breastfeed it asleep. And if instead requires milk, after a break, when the sucking slows down, you can gently detach it by making a massage on the back and stroking it.
10. How to help the child who is in his/her bed to go back to sleep
If the puppy that sleeps in his/her bed wakes up it is good to follow the usual techniques to make him/her fall asleep again. But little by little, from the author’s point of view, it is useful to shorten the times and change the activities. Among other things, the mothers often run to pick up the baby that is still asleep. So, it’s important to understand if he’s calling or if it’s sleep noise. In any case, it is never an idea to make him/her cry because he would wake up completely and it would be much harder to get him/her back to sleep.
The consultant also suggests preparing a ‘first book of bedtime’ with photos, objects familiar to the baby and a little story to read together every night before starting the routines. A similar project that is proposed is the ‘book of growth that can contain, through many photos, the life of the child, with particular attention to the time of sleep.
In fact, among its pages, “the book depicts the results you aim to achieve”, says the author.