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When will my baby sleep through the night?
"Does your baby sleep through the night?" That's a question you probably dread answering if your baby is still waking up. Many people believe that a baby should be sleeping through the night by the time he's three months old, so if your baby isn't, you may naturally feel frustrated and worried. Losing sleep is one of the hardest adjustments new parents have to make.
Actually, it's rare for an infant to consistently sleep through the night. Some babies do, but many are still waking up at ten months and others are two or three years old before they sleep all night. The frequency of waking varies from child to child and depends on many circumstances.
An infant may wake up at night to be fed, changed, or held. A slightly older baby may turn himself over during the night, waking up in the process. If a baby has new teeth coming in, he may be uncomfortable and wake up to be comforted. And if he's developmentally at the stage when he believes people exist only if he can see them, he may wake up to see his parents and be reassured. Parents sometimes consider this last type of wakefulness to be manipulative because their baby stops crying as soon as they come into his room. But he doesn't intend to manipulatehe just wants to see his parents and be close to them.
Basically, your baby wakes up because he needs to be comforted, fed, or helped. He doesn't understand that you prefer to meet his needs during the day and sleep during the night.
A wakeful baby can be difficult and frustrating. If you get up at night to respond to your baby, you lose sleep and suffer the physical and emotional consequences of being tired. You may also face the criticism of others: "The only way your baby is going to learn to sleep is if you let him cry it out." Such comments are unfortunate, because parents who do get up at night with their child need support and encouragement. Many parents eventually become secretive about getting up because they don't want to be ridiculed by friends and relatives.
Which toys are best for babies?
An infant likes to look at objects around him. By three to four months, he may be accidentally batting toys with his hands or feet, and by four to six months he may intentionally try to touch and grasp objects. During the earliest months you can hang mobiles from your baby's crib or ceiling, put a safe mirror against the side of the crib, or secure a colorful pinwheel to the hood of the baby stroller. Once he can grasp objects, you can provide soft, non-toxic toys that can safely go in his mouth and that won't harm him if he bumps against them: a rattle or squeaking toy, teething beads, or toys with faces.
Once your baby can sit up, attach a busy box to the side of his crib. He'll enjoy one with buttons, dials, pop-ups, and other things he can control. You can also give him kitchen items to play with such as plastic bowls and spoons, and a spill-proof container with a little water that he can shake and watch. When he can crawl, put these kitchen items in a low cupboard so he can easily get to them. He'll also like musical toys, stuffed animals, squeeze toys, soft cars and trucks, large balls, and cloth or cardboard books. You can make books for him by slipping pictures of your family and things he likes into a photo album.
Is it normal to feel guilty or upset by a crying baby?
Sometimes parents of a wakeful baby become resentful, envying other parents whose child sleeps through the night and wondering what's wrong with their own child. "Does everyone else have easier babies?" Parents may blame themselves for their situation, believing that they caused their baby's wakefulness by being too attentive to his cries. "If only we had let him cry it out earlier, maybe we'd all be sleeping now." There's really no need for doubt and self-blame. When you go to your baby at night, you give him a sense of security and a sense that his needs will consistently be met. When a baby is left to cry it out at night, he gives up and cries himself back to sleep. It's really okay to go to your baby when he wakes up crying. Parents of a wakeful baby need to know that they're not alone. Many babies wake up during the night. Once parents understand thisthat they're not alonethey can alter their expectations about normal sleeping patterns and begin to feel better about their child's behavior.
If you're the parent of a wakeful baby, you'll want to help him get back to sleep as quickly as possible. First, try to meet his needs by changing him, feeding him, or making him more comfortable. If he's still wakeful, try soothing him with rocking or singing. Sometimes mechanical, repetitive sounds are calmingthe sound of the ocean; running water; the hum of a hair dryer, fan, or vacuum cleaner. There are special sound machines, CDs, and toys that play the sounds of heartbeats; you might try one of these. Having him sleep with you may be less exhausting and frustrating than getting up several times to comfort and feed him.
If you're not getting enough sleep, try napping during the day or early evening, or going to bed early at night. And recognize that, as exhausting as this can be, wakefulness will decrease as your child gets older.
What should I look for in a good pediatrician?
Every parent wants a pediatrician who's dependable, competent, caring, and easy to talk to. Some doctors are all of these things, and others are not. Therefore, when you're looking for a pediatrician, you should (to the extent allowed by your insurance) take the time to visit a couple of doctors, seek recommendations, and ask questions.
To get the names of pediatricians you can interview, ask for recommendations from friends, relatives, your obstetrician, doula or midwife, and your insurance company. Once you have the names of a few pediatricians, set up appointments to visit. It's always best to see at least two doctors so you can compare them before you make your decision. Some charge for consultations, so ask about fees.
When you visit each pediatrician's office, look around. Are there toys and books available for children? Is the floor clean enough for a baby to crawl on? Are sick and healthy children separated? Are the receptionists, physician assistants, and nurses pleasant?
When you talk to the doctor, ask questions, and pay attention to how she responds. Does she answer you fully, in terms you can understand, and does she listen to your point of view? Do you feel comfortable with her? How do you think she relates to children? Because your relationship with a pediatrician will be a long and involved one, it's important to choose a doctor carefully.