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baby sleeping

5 Ways to Encourage Your Baby to Sleep

Self-Care & Mental Health

Forget about tips for making organic baby food or procuring the perfect tiny wardrobe. When it's 3 a.m. and baby is fussy and awake, the only advice you care about is how to get him or her to sleep. Here are five tactics to try when you're in desperate need of some shut-eye.

1. Establish a regular routine. Even adults have trouble resting at night when their schedule fluctuates, and the same goes for your baby. Setting a routine that begins with quiet downtime, like reading a book, listening to soft music or giving your baby a bath, followed by some light rocking and ending in a clean crib may be all your little one needs to prepare for slumber. In fact, an article in the journal Sleep suggested that pretty much any method of getting your baby to sleep can be effective—as long as you're consistent.

2. Be active during the day. Your baby may be too young to burn energy running around the yard, but stimulating activities like going for a walk in the stroller, seeing friends and family, visiting a children's museum or doing a sing-along activity (even if you're the only one singing!) may help tucker your baby out and get him or her ready for bedtime.

3. Be selfish with your bed. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advise against sharing your bed with a child under age 2 because of safety concerns, primarily an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome. In addition, some experts caution that sleep-sharing, or the family bed as it is sometimes called, can get a baby used to falling asleep in the wrong place and make it harder to develop independent sleep habits. However, the trend toward sleep-sharing has grown in recent years. If you are interested in sharing your bed, be sure and talk to your partner and your health care provider before starting the practice. There are safety guidelines that should be followed, wherever your baby sleeps, such as placing your baby on his or her back on a firm, flat mattress and protecting your baby from pets, other young children, intoxicated parents and anything that could cause choking or strangulation.

4. Consider a pacifier. Moms tend to be divided on whether pacifiers are a good idea for their babies, but if your little one is especially fussy, it may be worth a try even if you're anti-paci. The sucking movement can be very calming to young ones, and it's at least much better than putting him or her to bed with a bottle, which can be both a choking hazard and harmful to his or her dental health.

5. Don't let baby get too used to being rocked to sleep. Of course, during these first months, it's a joyful experience for you to watch your baby fall asleep in your arms. But this may be a hard habit to break if your baby decides that it's the only way to end the day and fall asleep. Instead, aim to put your baby in his or her crib while he or she is tired but still awake.

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