Photo by Yuchao.L

Part of keeping your baby healthy is getting him or her to sleep properly. This means making sure that the child is getting as much sleep as needed each night. For many new parents, this can be a very big problem because babies often don’t like to sleep for long periods at one time. In fact, your baby may wake up frequently throughout the night and need to be changed or fed, especially during the first few weeks or so. At this time your baby may sleep up to 17 hours a day or possibly even longer. He or she probably will not be awake for more than a couple hours at one time and will nap frequently.

As babies get a little older, they will begin sleeping better throughout the night. This means they could sleep for anywhere from eight to 12 hours; however, your baby will probably still get up very early in the morning and may also still need more sleep through the day rather than just the long period of sleep each night. These periods of sleep are helpful in your baby’s development.

Another important thing to note is that your baby will need naps throughout the day. For very young infants, it is recommended that they have at least two naps during the day and get to bed at an early hour. As children get a little older, they will be able to switch to just one nap during the day while still getting the same amount of sleep at night. By about four to six months of age, your baby may start to sleep all night without waking up to be changed or to eat.

When you’re trying to get your baby to understand the difference between night and day and to sleep through the night, there are actually some things that you can do. For one thing, you can help to show the child the difference between day and night. For example, day is when mommy and daddy play and when there are lots of loud noises and bright lights. By contrast, when your baby gets up at night, the surroundings should stay quiet and the lights should be kept low. This is not the time for playing with the baby, but instead for simply taking care of needs and putting him or her back to bed.

Something else to note is that many parents try letting their babies put themselves to sleep. Some parents, of course, don’t like to let their babies cry, and if they put the baby down for bed or even just for a nap, they may pick the child back up again if he or she starts crying; however, doctors have found that letting the baby cry for short periods of time when there is nothing wrong will not cause harm. You can let your baby cry and fuss a little when you put him or her down. In fact, if you’re trying to get the baby onto a routine, this can actually be one of the best things to do because it encourages the child to sleep when it’s bedtime.

Other parents feel this is unnecessarily cruel to their baby and will pick up the child and rock or nurse until the baby falls asleep. Whichever option you use is completely up to you; however, if you are going to let your baby cry himself or herself to sleep, you need to be sure that both parents are agreed on this method. You don’t want the baby pitting the two of you against each other. Likewise, you want to be sure that if you are going to rock your baby to sleep, you are there whenever the child wants you.

The rules for how your baby should sleep have changed drastically throughout the years; however, there are some things that you should definitely know before you put your infant to bed. One important thing is always to lay your baby on its back. This is believed to reduce the risk of your baby developing SIDS, which has claimed the lives of many infants without cause or explanation. Make sure you lay your baby down this way and always roll the child back to this position if you notice that he or she is sleeping another way.

You also want to make sure that you do not leave any toys or extra blankets in the crib with your baby. A baby will actually be much warmer than you and does not need a lot of blankets. If you are afraid your baby will get too cold, you could swaddle them in a blanket, being careful that the blanket is tight enough that they will not untangle it or you may wrap a thin sheet around their waist. The sheet should be tucked snugly under the mattress so it does not move and would not come above your baby’s waist. Babies do not need anything heavier than this even in the middle of winter because their bodies are more able to regulate heat.

Something else to think about is the type of crib you are using. You want to make sure that it does not have drop-down sides because babies have been known to get hurt in these types of cribs. They can easily pinch their fingers or even open the side of the crib and fall out. You also do not want bumper pads on the side of the crib because your baby could easily suffocate. A mesh covering is the strongest thing you should use so your baby can still breathe even if he or she gets right up next to the edge of the crib.

You want to be sure that you are following these instructions because your baby could suffer many different problems caused by sleeping the wrong way. You don’t want anything to happen to your baby, and that means listening to the rules that doctors have researched and put into place specifically to keep your baby safe.