Your baby is unique. Getting him or her to sleep at night can be a challenge that is physically and mentally draining, but it’s one that every mother and father faces.
If you are a new parent, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Even if you have had experience before, every baby is different. The first one might have been an angel that slept through the night without a peep, whereas the second born could be a nightmare for you. Perhaps it’s the other way around.
We all want what’s best for our babies, and that means giving them a good night’s rest without resorting to medication that could be harmful to them. This is something all mothers, new or not, worry about.
It’s easy to blame yourself. You may believe you are doing something wrong if your baby doesn’t sleep through the night, but you can’t always know exactly what the issue is because you can’t communicate with your baby.
Natural Sleep Remedies for Colic Infants
I advise to avoid medicinal formulations with active ingredients, especially pills that are normally sold for adults.
There are steps you can take to give your baby a better night’s sleep without resorting to medicine.
First of all, you need to give your baby a very structured sleep routine each night. It’s important for your baby to get into a pattern so they know what to expect and when.
Feeding times are how you create a structure around your baby’s day. It is often recommended to feed your baby every 4 hours, although a 3-hour feed time will give your baby more nutrition during the day.
If your baby is crying often during the night, they are communicating to you that something is wrong. In these instances, the baby is quite sleep deprived so I would not recommend waking them up for extra feeding times after they are 8 weeks old.
It has almost become accepted in our society that it’s normal for a baby to cry often at night, but it should not be ‘normal’. A baby cries when it is unhappy. An issue the baby might be upset about could be reflux.
You are probably aware that you should lay your baby on their back to avoid cot death. However, they could be feeling a burning sensation from acid reflux, and raising your baby’s head could help alleviate that.
You could also co-sleep with your baby, although this may affect your quality of sleep. The baby will feel safer and may rest easily, but you will have to be alert to not crush your baby. It is difficult wean him or her off, as typically they will start crying again at some point in the night. For this reason I don’t recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby.
Are There Any Safe Remedies or Medications I Can Use To Help My Baby Sleep?
Medications that are safe for your baby can help them get to sleep, but they must be used in conjunction with good behavioral practices. This way, when you decide to wean your baby off the treatment, it will be a smoother transition for all involved.
There is one natural sleep remedy for babies that could be considered safe. Melatonin is a safe compound as it is the body’s natural sleep hormone. Many parents give melatonin to their baby, as it is reasonably safe for the short term. There have not been conclusive studies to see the long term effect of giving this hormone to babies and toddlers.
In truth, a healthy baby does not need melatonin, but it can be very effective, especially at getting them to sleep in the first place. If you do use it, try not to let your child become too reliant on it.
There is a herbal remedy called valerian that is also quite effective.
The most important thing is not to give your child sleeping medication that is specifically formulated for adults such as benzodiazepines or Phenergan, and of course to consult your doctor before starting any course of treatment. Do not mix any medications together and check what side effects may happen.
In my opinion, we should not need to give our children sleeping pills. Parents are stressed and are looking for a magic “off” switch to get their baby to sleep, but we don’t know the long-term effects of taking melatonin, valerian or other substances.
Instead, it’s better to teach our children how to sleep. It is a learning process like any other to a baby that is new to the world. Your baby may have specific needs that require melatonin supplementation for example, but the majority of babies do not. For those children, using melatonin may prove a quick fix but it’s far better to think about training your child to sleep well for the future.