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How to Change a Baby’s Sleep Pattern

Often, babies can get turned around in their sleep patterns–sleeping all day rather than all night and staying up when they should be sleeping. This is not only an inconvenience for moms and dads, it can be downright exhausting. This is especially true for parents who must be up during the day for work or other activities. Find important step-by-step information for how to change a baby’s sleep pattern.

Step 1

Keep your baby up later. If your baby is sleeping the daytime, making it possible for her to stay up all night, you will not be able to use a quick fix. You’ll need to change her sleeping pattern gradually so that she is tired at night. Start by keeping her up a few hours later than she normally stays awake. If you must, give her a cool bath to wake her up or entertain her with visually stimulating toys. Now that you’ve kept her up a few hours more than what she’s accustomed to, allow her to sleep later than she normally would as well. If she wakes up at her normal time, keep her in bed. You can lie with her, tell stories, or even watch a movie–just keep it quiet and serene as if it is still bedtime. Continue this process until your baby is going to sleep at your desired time. As you gradually make bedtime later and later, she will eventually be on the right schedule.

Step 2

Tire her out with activities and games. If you’re having trouble getting your baby to sleep at night, there are a few things you can do to make sure she is tired and ready for bed. Make sure she doesn’t take a late nap. The ideal time is between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., making sure she is awake by 2:00 p.m. at the latest. After nap time, your baby’s day should be exciting and filled with play She should get plenty of fresh air (at least 30 minutes of outside play if possible), stimulation from her favorite adults and time with exciting toys. This kind of day will make your baby tired and ready for rest at night.

Step 3

Start a bedtime routine. One of the best ways that you can help your baby fall into a normal nighttime sleep schedule is to implement a consistent bedtime routine. Consistency is key and will help your baby feel more secure. Start with the bath routine. Warm water and lavender soap are great tools for helping your baby feel soothed and relaxed. She should be placed in comfortable pajamas appropriate for the temperature in your home (not too warm or cool). Then, she should be taken to her room to have the last bottle or feeding before bed. After her belly is full, you can sing to her, read her a story or just soothe her with soft words. You can then put her into bed for sleep. Whatever your routine is, it should stay the same night after night so that she becomes accustomed to the way things are supposed to go.

Step 4

Try the Ferber method of sleep training. If your baby wants to sleep with you and can’t seem to go to sleep without you, it can be quite an inconvenience. Some parents enjoy sleeping with their children; some don’t. If you want your baby to sleep solo, there are a few different things you can do. The Ferber method has been used for countless babies, but some parents don’t agree with this method. It involves using the bedtime routine and then placing your baby into bed awake so that she learns to fall asleep on her own. You allow baby to cry a certain amount of time (depends on age of baby, what you’re comfortable with, how long you’ve been using Ferber program and other factors). This supposedly teaches babies to self-calm and not depend on their parents for comforting. You can learn more about using the Ferber method in the Resources section.

Step 5

Try other calming methods. If you don’t want to use the Ferber method, you can also find ways to make your baby feel comfortable in her own bed. Swaddling sometimes helps and a night light can keep baby from feeling uncomfortable in the dark, as can sleeping with a favorite toy. In addition, some babies respond well to white noise or nature sounds, like bubbly brooks. There are even sound machines that you can purchase to help your little one. These costs between $50 and $145. Visit Sleep Well Baby for prices (see Resources).

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