HOW TO GET YOUR BABY TO FALL ASLEEP: A FEW TIPS TO GUIDE YOUR BABY INTO THE WORLD OF DREAMS
When a mother meets her child's gaze for the first time there is an immediate and inexplicable complicity. That same bond that previously existed inside the womb, transforms and evolves after the birth, making both of them feel in the right place at the right time. The child feels safe and secure in its mother's arms, but when this contact fails, its certainties collapse.
One of the most stressful moments for newborns, especially in the first few months, is bedtime, when, disorientated by new stimuli, they spend sleepless nights screaming and crying. Of course, mothers stay awake with their children in an attempt to calm them down and get them back to sleep, but it is not always that simple. On these occasions, the mother often feels inadequate and full of doubts. Questions come to mind such as 'Is it because I'm no good?' or 'Am I doing something wrong?'. The answer to all these questions is no. The baby just needs to settle in and be understood. So, here are some suggestions to gently guide your little one into the world of dreams.
Before understanding what the techniques actually entail, we must first try to understand why children have so much difficulty sleeping. Their discomfort initially originates from the environment they are suddenly thrown into, which is completely different from the one they have been living in for nine months. Before, everything was tight, warm and softly lit where every sound was whispered and muffled. Now they are exposed to bright lights, loud noises and huge cots that seem to have no boundaries. This situation makes the baby agitated and this agitation will only subside in the arms of their mother: the only place they recognise.
This is why it is important to gradually get them used to their new environment with the use of swaddling. This should not be too tight, but serves to metaphorically take the baby back into the mother's womb, feeling cuddled and protected. This is not only in the cot, where you can even just roll up a blanket and place it around the baby, so they touch it with their little hands and feet, but also during the day using a sling or baby carrier directly in contact with the body. If the baby is rhythmically cuddled, the effectiveness of the technique increases considerably.
Another stimulus that will calm the baby is related to hearing. In fact, when they are in the womb, babies hear many sounds both from outside and directly from their mother's body. To them, however, voices, sounds and heartbeats come as buzzing and rustling. That's why they really appreciate sounds such as a hair dryer, hoover and the classic "shhh". Playlists that reproduce the sounds of the womb can also be used to help them sleep.
The most powerful calming agent for children, however, is sucking. When they are agitated, sucking on something helps them a lot, whether this be through feeding or a dummy. While feeding may be more effective the first few times, in the long run it is better to get the child used to other objects such as a dummy, also so that mum can get some rest.
The last tip concerns the sleeping position. Obviously, laying the baby down on their back is suitable, but one suggestion is to lay them down placing their feet first and then the head. Doing the opposite, in fact, makes it easier for the baby to wake up. It should also be remembered that it is best to put the baby to sleep in a cot or pram, as they may be frightened when they wake up in a different place from where they fell asleep.
Getting a child to rest is not an easy task, but it isn’t impossible. Apart from the techniques, which can be effective in different ways depending on the baby, it is important to understand that it is not the mother who is inadequate but the baby who needs to learn the new rhythms and spaces, and gradually the new mums will learn to read the signs.