By Dr Sreenath Manikanti
Raising a kid isn’t an easy job. Given the stress and pressures of life, persistent crying of babies can lead to more stressful situations in the family, including marital conflicts, depression, low self-esteem and obesity. A stressed mind can cause new parents to make all sorts of rash decisions.
Thus, it is extremely important to understand the needs of the baby. Have you spent many a night awake, trying to get your baby to sleep and failed? Fret not, here are some tips to help both you and your baby enjoy a good night’s sleep.
A baby stays in the womb for almost nine months and is habitual of a crouched position and a warm, watery environment. Any change in the environment upsets the baby and ends up affecting their biological cycle. Normally, wet nappies, hunger or fever can cause infants to sleep less. Yet, if all these causes are taken care of, and the problem persists, there are some hacks that can help the baby sleep peacefully.
One useful fact to know is that babies slumber down better when they are provided an environment that resembles the womb. To create similar conditions, paediatricians suggest the ‘5-6’ approach: swaddling, shushing, swinging, sucking, sleeping position, and switching on the calming reflexes.
* Swaddling: During pregnancy, the baby feels caressed inside the womb. These soft caresses are called swaddling. Caressing the baby softly and wrapping them tight helps them to believe they are back in their protected environment.
* Sleeping position: Making the baby sleep on the back makes them feel as if they are falling. But sleeping on the side cancels that feeling, and thus helps them sleep without any worry.
* Shushing: The sound in the womb is louder than a vacuum cleaner. Either start a vacuum cleaner or shush as loudly as possible. Keep going with decreasing intensity. You can try switching on the hair drier also.
* Swinging: This is an age-old trick. When the babies are upset and crying, they need a ‘back and forth’ movement to help them relax. This will calm them down and also make them drowsy.
* Sucking: If the baby likes to put a finger in the mouth, don’t discourage them. More often than not, this particular action soothes the baby and gives them a familiar feeling of being safe.
* Calming reflexes: These are certain body movements that make the infant think they are in the womb. Whenever your baby is feeling cranky, use these movements.
If none of the measures works, take your baby out for a drive in the car. Most fussy babies calm down when the car is in motion.
Some precautions: Don’t wrap the baby in loose blankets. Also, establish a daytime and nighttime routine by keeping stimulating activities restricted to the day and sleepy and passive ones for the night. Introducing bedtime rituals like singing lullabies is also beneficial. Bathing the babies with warm water and feeding them till they are full also aids sleep.
(The write is a senior consultant neonatologist & HOD Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore)