Putting a fussy baby to sleep: What can I do to help my child fall asleep quickly?

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Getting a fussy or colicky baby to sleep can be very challenging for parents. Babies cry and fuss for many reasons, including hunger, discomfort, overstimulation, or simply needing closeness and comfort.

While dealing with a fussy baby can be frustrating and exhausting, there are many effective techniques parents can try to help soothe their little one to sleep.

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Putting a fussy baby to sleep:

1-Speak in soft and soothing tones

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: One of the best things you can do when your baby is fussy is to remain calm yourself. Babies pick up on parents’ stress and anxiety, which can make them even more unsettled.

Take some deep breaths, call on your partner or a friend for support if needed, and approach the situation patiently and lovingly. Speak in soft, soothing tones and avoid overstimulating your baby with too much light, sound or activity. A calm environment will help signal to your baby that it’s time to unwind.


Putting a fussy baby to sleep1
Image source: baby-chick

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Swaddling is an age-old trick that works wonders for many babies. Most infants love being snugly wrapped in a lightweight blanket with their arms at their sides.

This provides a sense of security and comfort similar to the tight quarters of the womb. Use a large thin muslin or cotton blanket and make sure it’s not too tight or too warm. Many babies who fight swaddling at first end up relaxing into deep sleep once wrapped snugly.

3-rhythmic motions

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Babies find rhythmic motions extremely soothing. Try rocking, swaying, or dancing gently while holding your fussy baby close.

Or put baby in a sling or front carrier and walk around. The repetitive movements and being close to your heartbeat and rhythmic breathing often helps lull babies to sleep. Using rocking chairs, gliders, swings and infant car seats can also simulate the motion and help calm your little one down.

4-singing a lullaby

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Soft music, shushing sounds and white noise are very effective at blocking out household disturbances that might frustrate or startle your baby.

Playing soothing music, humming or singing a lullaby creates a comforting sound blanket. You can buy white noise machines or CDs with calming sounds like ocean waves, rainfall or heartbeat sounds. Or simply turn on a fan, clothes dryer, or vacuum cleaner and let the ambient noise work its magic. The key is to find a volume that drowns out distracting noises but isn’t so loud it overstimulates.

5-Skin to skin contact

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Image source: babycenter

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Skin to skin contact, for both mom and dad, has profound calming and soothing effects on fussy babies.

Remove your shirt and place baby against your bare chest while reclining or resting comfortably. Use a blanket to keep baby’s back warm. The comfort of your heartbeat, breath, voice, touch and even smell is incredibly reassuring to infants. Skin to skin contact releases oxytocin in both parent and baby, promoting bonding, relaxation and sleep.

6-Gentle baby massage

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Gentle baby massage is a wonderful way to soothe and calm a fussy, overtired baby. Using a small amount of natural oil, lightly massage baby’s back, arms, legs, hands and feet using smooth, moderate pressure and strokes. Keep it very soothing and avoid stimulating areas like the belly. Many babies become relaxed and sleepy when massaged this way for 10-15 minutes. You’ll both benefit from this special bonding time together.

7-Bathing is very relaxing

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Bathing is very relaxing and soothing for many babies, sometimes even better than a massage. Warm (not hot) water simulates the uterine environment and has a tranquilizing effect.

Bathing before bedtime helps lower babies’ heart rate and body temperature, prime conditions for sleep. Keep lighting dim, speak in a hushed voice and avoid splashing and playful baths which can have the opposite effect. A pre-bedtime bath signals sleep time to your little one.

While nursing, rocking and co-sleeping are popular ways to get babies to sleep, over-dependence on these sleep associations can lead to problems down the road. It’s healthiest in the long run for babies to learn to fall asleep on their own in their crib or bassinet. This takes patience but pays off quickly. Use a sound machine or white noise for comfort. Check on baby at increasing intervals if they fuss while you work at phasing out negative sleep associations.

8-Stay attuned to your baby’s cues

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Stay attuned to your baby’s cues to identify optimal nap and bed times. Watch for rubbing eyes, staring blankly, getting fussy or pulling ears – early signs sleep is approaching.

Having a calming pre-nap and bedtime routine helps cue your baby that it’s time to unwind. This might include a lullaby, massage, bath and story. Putting baby to bed drowsy but awake teaches them to self-soothe. Avoid stimulating play and electronics before bedtime.

9-fresh air

Putting a fussy baby to sleep: Getting plenty of fresh air and daylight helps regulate babies’ circadian rhythms so they sleep when it’s dark out. Take baby outside in the mornings or open all the curtains. Let them look out windows and try to avoid letting them sleep too much during the daytime. Sunlight, nature sounds and social interaction early in the day boosts melatonin production. Establish an earlier bedtime than an adult would need so baby gets enough nightly sleep.

While every baby is different, using a combination of these calming techniques should help even the fussiest baby get the rest they need. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help when you need a break.

Parenting a colicky or high-needs baby is very tough. Take it one day at a time, trade off with your partner at night, and remember the fussy phase will pass as your baby matures. With patience and care, you will both get through this challenging period.

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