It’s impossible to list all the different skills you need, and decisions that you have to make, as a new parent. Although you should try to educate yourself and talk to other parents, in most cases the best solution for any questions you may have is to follow your instincts. Parenting is, after all, one of the most natural things in the world. One of the most common and difficult things you’ll deal with as the parent of a newborn is in getting your child to sleep well and throughout the night. Often, the process of achieving this seems to be a combination of science, art, and just plain luck. There are many baby sleep tips out there, and many of them are useful, but before you begin researching and applying them, you should develop a realistic and healthy attitude towards sleep. If you don’t do this, you risk applying tips in a rigid and scattershot manner, which isn’t likely to work.
One of the keys to this is understanding that you should be developing a long term goal, in terms of your baby’s sleep habits. As much as your short term goal is simply to get your child to go to sleep, so that you can get some sleep as well, you should be thinking of the long term goal of instilling healthy sleep habits in your child. A successful way to implement this goal is to be realistic and flexible. Your child is not going to sleep the same way or in the same manner every night. What you should be trying to do, therefore, is creating an environment that is conducive to sleep, so that your child can slowly learn to fall asleep on his own.
The best thing you can do is help your child develop an attitude in which sleep is both an enjoyable and secure state. Your child should think of sleep as a comforting thing that comes naturally. One way you can help foster this idea is by avoiding too much interference with your child’s sleeping habits. Although it can be tempting to follow guides and implement rigid rules regarding your child’s sleep, in many cases this can cause problems down the road.
If you rouse or put your child to bed at set hours, you may achieve a short term goal of getting some rest, but you may also be altering your child’s attitudes towards sleep. Instead of thinking of sleep as an enjoyable activity, he will begin to think of it as something he “has to do” like eating his dinner. By altering your child’s attitude towards sleep in this way – by making him think of it as a task rather than an enjoyable activity – you risk problems developing later.
In older children and adults who have sleeping problems, doctors can often trace the source of the problem back to sleeping habits enforced at an extremely young age, such as being put to bed at a set hour, regardless of whether they were tired or not. By trying to stay more in tune with how your baby is feeling and what he wants, you will encourage a healthier attitude towards sleep, which will benefit both you and your child in the future.