July 22, 2022

How to get your baby to sleep without being held

Taking the baby for a walk in front of the door, carrying it around the room, massaging it: Parents try many things to help their newborns sleep. Some challenge mom and dad mightily in the first few months. They are awake every two to three hours at night - and often, a parent is awake with them. The result is often overtiredness and doubts: Why is it like this? Does it have to be like this? Is the child doing well?

Most babies wake up several times during the night

Such questions torment many parents. A survey of more than 1,000 parents of children up to the age of five showed that eight out of ten babies wake up to four times a night in their first year. This is exhausting, but no reason to despair.

Tip of the day

One trick that many parents have under their sleeves is a noise machine. Often times it only takes so much to calm down a baby so they can fall asleep.

How to get your baby to sleep without being held step by step

Recognize tiredness

Is your baby yawning, rubbing his eyes, staring into space, turning his head away, or suddenly finding his favorite toy uninteresting? Then it's high time for bed. Overtired children have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than others.

Radiate calm

If you feed your child at night, do it quietly: quietly, with little light and little movement. Don't lift it out of bed immediately for comfort. Instead, pet them.

Introduce rituals

Even in the first few months, it's worth introducing fixed sleep rituals. For example, bathing, swaddling, cuddling, then a good-night song and kiss at the end. By following the same routine simultaneously, babies find it easier to settle down.

Use music

A music box's soothing, repetitive melody or maybe a noise machine can also help babies find their way to sleep on their own - and gradually replace their parents as sleep aids. But beware of these methods because they can be a double-edged sword. There are cases where your child can only get to sleep with a certain sound or gadget that breaks or gets lost, and now suddenly you can't replicate it anymore, so your child won't be able to sleep without it.

Design a sleeping area

Bedrooms with cooler temperatures and little light and noise are ideal. However, it would be best to do without pillows, cuddly animals, and bed surrounds ("nests") for safety reasons.

Normal step of development

Little ones must first learn to sleep in harmony with day and night. Sleeping through the night is a step in a child's development process - like walking or talking. Pediatricians are familiar with the concerns of mothers and fathers. The topic of sleep concerns many parents, sometimes even with older offspring. Between the ages of two- to three-year-olds, only 43 percent sleep through the night regularly. The smaller the child, the fewer parents can do.

How our sleep develops

Newborns don't yet know the difference between day and night. In the first few months, they sleep in many small stages - and wake up several times during the night. Over time, bedtimes increasingly merge, gradually shifting to nighttime.

Babies also spend more sleep time in REM sleep phases than older children and adults: REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. They occur because the brain works particularly briskly during this phase. According to a study by the University of California, newborns spend about half of their total sleep time in REM, people over 50 only about 15 percent.

How can babies fall asleep better

There is rarely a real sleep disorder behind it, for example, a breathing disorder. Babies have no day-night rhythm in the first three to four months. They alternate between waking and sleeping for about every two hours, the cause mostly being hunger, acting like a typical alarm clock. According to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine, it is quite normal to breastfeed newborns and interrupt their nighttime sleep to eat. Knowing this relieves many parents. Those who trust that difficult times are part of it can deal more calmly with short nights.

Do Cry babies have digestive problems?

Some babies cry unusually much and without apparent cause, especially late in the afternoon and the first half of the night. They are inconsolable and often have clenched little hands, tightened legs, and a reddened face. Excessive crying is often called "three-month colic." But the term is misleading. The little ones rarely have digestive problems; their hard belly and flatulence may be caused by excessive crying.

When doctors speak of cry babies

According to the German Society for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, a child is considered a cry baby if their restlessness or crying occurs for three hours per day, on more than three days per week, and for three weeks in a row. This behavior is observed in 1 of 10 infants in the first three months. Although it stops in two-thirds of infants by the fourth month and only in a very few, it continues into the sixth month. But for parents, this period often means enormous stress.

They should not take on too much in their daily lives, ensure a calm daily routine and realize that they are not responsible for the crying. If the crying is wearing parents down or even making them angry, they should put their child in a safe place like the crib. Under no circumstances should they shake it. This can cause serious injury to the brain.

How babies learn to sleep through the night

Four hours at a time is a success. As with speech, for example, the process of learning to sleep is rapid with some children, while with others, it takes longer. However, they all have in common that the sleep stages increasingly merge and shift more and more into the night.

When babies start sleeping through the night for the first time at around six months, they often only get four or five, sometimes six hours at a time. And not yet every night.

Temporary sleep regressions are normal, especially during this time; there can always be a few setbacks. For example, a moment ago, the baby was slumbering through the night, and then suddenly, they fell back into earlier patterns. This happens when children have a cold, are teething, or a lot is going on in everyday life. Everyone knows this from themselves; it's harder to get a good night's sleep when the day is too stressful. In addition, babies' threshold is lower because everything is new, and their sleep rhythm is not yet established.

Consciously shape bedtime routines

Parents can help their children develop a rhythm; a regular daily routine with the same times for eating and sleeping helps a lot. In addition, the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine advises that bedtime and the hour before bedtime should be arranged as a ritual.

Parents show their children how different day and night are: During the day, activity, light, normal volume prevail. However, there is no more excitement in the evening, especially at night; everything is quieter and quieter, and the light is dimmed.

Sleep requirements: from 13h to 18h a day

Even in newborns, there are long sleepers and short sleepers. Typically, children need about 16 hours of sleep a day in their first year. However, the variance is large. According to some studies, for some, 13 hours are enough at six months of age, while others still need up to 18.

Many overestimate the sleep needs of their child. An asleep diary can clarify how much rest a child needs, and most pediatricians advise starting one. Parents should note when their little one sleeps and how long. Some find that they sleep poorly at night because they take too long naps during the day.

If in doubt, consult a pediatrician

If parents are at a loss, they should talk to their pediatrician. Experts also advise asking grandparents or friends for help, if possible; if they look after the child for a few hours during the day, mom or dad can catch up on some sleep. At night, partners should take turns.

Sleep coaching can provide support

Sleep coaching for babies can also provide individual support. The midwife can arrange for a qualified and certified sleep coach if necessary. Usually, after several meetings with the parents, they can determine the sleep situation and work out goals. However, parents must pay for the coaching themselves if it is not included in their insurance policy.

Parents should make sure that the goals worked out are realistic. They should become suspicious of promises that the child will sleep through the night at the end of coaching. If there is no significant improvement after two and a half to three months, the parents should consider dissolving the cooperation.

Short-term sleep aids do more harm in the long run

Many caring measures delay the way to regular sleep. Cradling in the arm, letting the child doze off at the breast, driving around in the car - these sleep aids occasionally apply unproblematically. Still, in the long run, they are unfavorable. They increase the likelihood that the child will call loudly for his parents at night - even without being hungry or in pain.

Unlearning bad habits

Everyone wakes up several times at night, big and small. This is an ancient protective mechanism; during this process, we check whether anything has changed in the environment. If everything's the same as when we fell asleep, we slumber. If something is different, we wake up. This is also true for babies. If they doze off to the sound of a motor and wake up after two hours without humming, they sound the alarm. This habit can be unlearned, but only with patience.

No panacea: sleep schedule

There are many sleep training programs for babies. But none of them is a panacea or remedy that solves all problems. Some encourage parents to let the child cry it out; others advise intensive attention at every peep. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, say experts specialize in sleep medicine.


People also Ask:

How many children have sleep problems?

Very few. But many parents complain of sleepless nights and worry about their children. The worry is usually unfounded; the child is simply in a natural development process: it is normal for children not to sleep through the night in the first few months after birth.

Why is being awake regulated by hunger?

Newborns do not yet know the difference between day and night. Their sleep and wakefulness are initially regulated by hunger - and that doesn't just come during the day. The children then wake up several times during the night. This clashes with the rhythm of the parents, who are often sleep-deprived.

At what age do children start to sleep better?

After six months, the little one's body begins to orient itself more to day and night, that is, to light and dark. For some children, this happens earlier, while others take longer. But, at one year, many children already sleep through the night.

Of course, sleeping through the night doesn't mean 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as it does for us. Rather, it's often only four to six hours at a stretch initially. Especially when children switch from milk to solid foods, the nights also become longer.

When should parents seek help?

As soon as the whole family suffers from a child's insomnia. But also when parents feel exhausted, insecure, or overwhelmed when partner conflicts intensify or the relationship with the child suffers, they should seek advice and support. Pediatricians are then the first point of contact.

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