How to fall asleep and help a baby to fall asleep

17 May, 2017 / Mateusz

What happens in the child’s body during sleeping?

A child who sleeps well is easier to assimilate. It’s not just about schooling, it’s about basic learning like walking, memorizing gestures, speaking, or understanding images. Receptive knowledge is responsible for organizing and assimilating. Sleep spindles produced during NREM sleep phase, which is a phase in which there is no movement of the eyes, slows down the heart rate, and decreases body temperature. This specific inertia of the body enables the flow of more blood to the brain and its active work. During the sleep cycle, the information from the previous day is organized and recorded. Neurotransmitters are rebuilt and created, and receptors are isolated to receive other stimulus.

At night, hormone regulation is also regulated in the body. By secreting and inhibiting the secretion of different hormones (melatonin, cortisol, serotonin, etc.) growth hormone, the development of the baby, both present and future, is guaranteed.

Studies conducted by the Ohio State University College of Public Health * have shown that children who have a regulated sleep and go to bed at 8pm (20:00), have less inclination to be over weight as a teenager than children who go to sleep later.

Sleeping is also a time of intense growth hormone secretion. A child who does not fall asleep, sleeps at different times or sleeps in the wrong conditions (e.g. with blue light and TV noise) is less likely to grow and develop properly.

Help baby to fall asleep

The first “bedroom” that a little one has is their mother’s belly. There is a pleasant temperature in it, it is quiet and dark, apart from the familiar feminine voice, there is no noise disturbance, and his/her body is constantly rocked. After birth, the child will continue to strive for the experiences that his/her mother has provided.

The gentle swaying provided by the movement of the mother, sooths and helps the infant fall asleep. Rocking also stimulates the brain to work and promotes a sense of balance.

How to sway a baby?

Toddler is most happy when mom or daddy holds them in his/her arms. Rocking in a hammock, trolley or cradle is an easy solution. Why? Because the parent’s body is warm and has a familiar, soothing scent.

It is better to use a sling than to put a baby in a car seat or a cradle for sleeping. The sling allows you to carry your baby right next to your body, which makes them feel safe and sleepy, and for the parent – as a comfortable way to move along with comfort.

Does falling asleep in your arms harm a baby?

Many like to sleep baby while breastfeeding or bottle feeding in their arms. To tell the truth, many babies fall asleep in this way without special methods.

Sleeping after eating is a natural need of the body at any age. Fatigue comes along with redirecting energy to the digestion of food intake. Proteins contained in the mother’s milk are also a sleep aid.

Baby in bed

A child who falls asleep in mum’s or dad’s arms, can wake up when he feels he’s being put down to a cold and strange baby crib. To prevent this, parents can prepare the baby bed before laying the baby to sleep. In the bed, it is worthwhile to turn on a heating pad, which slightly warms the bed linens, quilt or blanket. In addition, adding a shirt with mummy or daddy’s scent is a good idea. Laying the baby down, is best placed on the tummy, in the frog position.

The equivalent of a parent’s t-shirt can be a shawl, in which the child falls asleep on. Ideally, it should be large enough to cover the body of the toddler.

If we do not want the child to wake up just after falling asleep, white noise can be useful (recorded sound of a vacuum cleaner or dryer). This noise is similar to the sounds that accompanied the baby during the fetal stage, which makes it feel safe.

When is it the best time to fall asleep without the parents?

Some parents try to avoid the baby at an early stage, from falling asleep at the breast, as well as from the close presence of parents during sleep. In the meantime, it is natural for a baby to be with their mother or father. Without that, a baby can lose a sense of security.

The best time to move on to the next stage, which is to sleep alone, is the moment your baby chooses to do so. Patience certainly will not disappoint parents in this case, because the systematic independence of the child is inscribed in his/her development at every stage of life until he/she establishes their own family.

But before the adult leaves their family home, he/she must have at one point left his/her parents’ bed. This time most often comes when the child is 5 years old. Is it late? Note that a young child does not yet have a mature mechanism to block the release of cortisol (stress hormone) at night. Consequently, the hormone is secreted both in the activity phase and in the rest phase. That is why a child wakes up often at night, is less calm than an adult sleeper. The toddler is more tense, nervous, imagining various fears. It is advisable to let him/her grow up a little bit before sleeping by themselves.

When parents decide to move a child to a separate room earlier, it is important to remember the cortisol secretion phase and not to accumulate stress just before falling asleep. If the child is strongly demanding the presence of the parents (e.g. shouting and crying), the child should not be persuaded to form new habits. Cortisol secreted in large quantities at night can lead to growth hindrance and adversely affect the development of the baby.

Falling asleep as a preschooler

Sleeping at a preschool age is very different from sleeping as a baby. The little boy or girl no longer needs to cuddle up to their parent’s chest and be rocked, and does not necessarily keep their parents’ clothes in their bed, but still the presence of mom and dad is important. Parents can help the child fall asleep, for example by reading fairy tales at bedtime, stroking, or soothing.

It is also worthwhile to provide optimal sleep conditions for the child, such as airing the room, proper air temperature (18C to 20C), humidity (fireplaces, air humidifiers), and separation from outside noise, computer and TV.

You can prepare for a peaceful sleep by introducing certain rituals. Bathing before bed, talking with a parent, reading fairy tales can help your child quickly fall asleep. Remember to put them to bed early (before 20:00) and have a consistent routine sleep. Routine helps not only in sleep, but also ensures calm and long sleep. This practice has positive implications for both children and adults. This protects (as we mentioned earlier) from obesity, but also from developmental disorders or even fatigue.

Awake during sleeping

Both infants and pre-school children must sleep. The sleep phases – REM and NREM – do not last as long as adults’ do. In adults, the length of one phase is about 3 hours, in a child – about 1 hour. In addition, the immature brain and central nervous system are not yet functioning well enough to ensure the harmonious development of the body. All this affects and causes more night breaks.

Awaking at night is not unusual. It involves both infants (which otherwise have a completely different cycle than a few days) as well as preschoolers. Parents must take this into account when moving the child to another room. Firstly, it is worth leaving a night light on in the child’s room, with a low light. Likewise, it is better to provide illumination on the way from the parents’ bedroom to the children’s room and remove any obstacles from the road. Awakening children often means, “night wandering” to mom and dad’s bed.