Do you struggle with getting your baby to sleep?
With a newborn or a toddler, the subject of ‘sleep’ is often discussed and pondered over.
It is essential for babies and children to obtain sufficient sleep as having ample rest supports healthy development. The younger the child is, the more sleep they need. And while they sleep, parents can get their rest too, or possibly score some pockets of time to prepare meals or simply “me time” to unwind for the day.
So, what do you do to get a baby to sleep? When do babies sleep through the night? That sounds like a distant dream!
Let’s hear it from parents in Singapore who have successfully found ways to get their babies and young children to sleep – yes, tips and tricks that work!
#1: Trial and error to more zzz’s
As with parenting, there comes certain situations where trial and error becomes your best bet. Armed with the mission to ensure your newborn sleeps well, and clocks in sufficient naps throughout the day, parents pretty much start from Ground Zero.
Some parents may discover certain sleep strategies that work for their kids. Like Elizabeth Wu, who has 3 children, she counts physical caress as a technique that works for her family.
“Stroking the bridge of the nose gently, white noise and gently running fingers through hair!” she shares.
It sounds so easy, but when she first tried it, the kids probably thought that mummy was playing with them!
Getting the children to sleep also calls for disciplined parents. These parents unanimously agree that a bedtime routine is essential, since children learn through conditioning and repetition.
For Serynn Guay, she believed in sleep training her newborn. Here’s what she does, which involves her special magic trick on days when getting her child to sleep becomes a tall order:
“Nothing forceful, but I established a routine – after wipe down, change PJs, tuck in with baby and turn off the lights. Even now (boy is 3 years old), turning off lights is always a solid cue to sleep. Usually I’ll pretend to fall asleep too (sometimes I’ll fall asleep for real!). If all else fails, use Hylands Teething Gel. It knocked my baby out goooodddddd!”
She also shares that eliminating distractions such as screen time at least an hour before bedtime is important. This is supported by neuroscientists who advise that sleep quality becomes compromised with the blue light emission from our smartphones and gadgets – which is also true for adults too, isn’t it?
#2: Establish a bedtime routine
Most parents who successfully establish a bedtime routine that syncs with their baby sleep patterns are all praises for this must-do!
All of them agree that the familiarity and association with pre-bedtime activities allowed kids to understand and anticipate that it’s almost bedtime. Parents advice? Start early.
Mummy Ryn Ryn started a bedtime routine when she was pregnant. She turns on a particular piano music throughout the night until now whenever her three-year-old daughter sleeps or naps.
“(It has) became a(n) SOP… sometimes if I forget, she will say “mummy please on the sleeping music”..!”
Besides developing a routine, being consistent from the start is equally important, shares Qiqi Low, who has 2 young daughters. She also shares that when the kids start Primary School, the bedtime routine will then have to change to accommodate the child’s schedule so it’s still boils down to making it work for the family.
Parents who have a consistent bedtime routine in place for the children are really pleased with the “results”. While some days are hits and misses, Maria Wee explains that “(Our bedtime routine) is part of his everyday life…. now, he falls asleep within half an hour but most of the time within 15 mins or so. If he’s tired, even faster.”
While it sounds like clockwork going on, what happens if schedules on some days are out of the norm, or, the kids are home later than their usual bedtime?
Mok Yizheng shares, “Both my kids sleep by 830 every day (except for the odd weekend we are out till late). It’s also routine… after dinner they play awhile then when it’s bathing time they will know it’s sleeping time soon. We’ll go into the room and they’ll drink milk around 8pm.. cuddle abit and they’ll fall asleep within 15-20mins.”
Elayne Gan seconds that routine is key and helps to manage the family’s schedules. She affirms, “Regardless the time, the routine remains. That’s one way for baby to recognise it’s bedtime.”
Both mummies Mok Yizheng and Elayne Gan stick to their daily practice even if it means doing certain activities twice, or the same activity at close intervals. For example, bathing them before changing into the pyjamas despite a bath just a few hours ago.
“So many points but so important for sanity!” Elayne quips.
That’s pretty true! Anything to keep parents sane counts as an ally!
#3: Have a game plan to get the kids to sleep
As your children grow older, their bedtime routine may change and morph into something quite different. Or at least, not what you may have expected at the beginning.
With 2 or more kids, siblings may get up to quirky antics at bedtime, which can be really heart-warming to watch after a day of being away from them.
Raye Kiu, sticks to a bedtime routine for both kids. Things are a little different now as the routine “includes silly dances, silly games … milk … brushing teeth, (switching) off (the) lights”. She occasionally resorts to white lies as well by announcing that it’s 11 pm, when it’s just 9.45pm. Things parents do to get their kids to bed!
Also, expect that what used to a fool-proof plan to get them to sleep may suddenly not work when your child is older.
For Mel Goh, “initially, playing soothing baby sleep music helped a lot… once after 6 months, it didn’t really work that much.”
So, her game plan had to change. Now her son hugs a bolster instead. If they are out and her child is yawning, she babywears him and pats him to sleep.
#4: If your child fights sleep, it’s time to see the fun side
If you’re feeling frustrated when trying to get your baby to sleep, remember to see the fun side of things and breathe a little easier.
Researchers have been linking insomnia and intelligence, so who knows? Your sleep fighter could be a little genius! At least that’s what Drea Kang Gruszka convinces herself too: “Take comfort in that possibility the next time you’re ready to slaughter them… At least that’s what I psycho myself to believe when (my daughter) Kinia is driving me nuts at midnight!”
Managing a child who fights sleep can be nerve-wrecking, but with a simple routine in place, you might find one that works for your family. Raising happy, healthy children takes patience and some experimentation at times – we hope you find a way to develop healthy sleeping habits with your children.