Nothing can make you question your parenting skills quite like trying to soothe a fussy baby who needs a nap, but refuses to succumb to sleep. Parents, new and old alike, are sure to find themselves trying every sleepy time trick in the book in an effort to coerce their crying infant to settle down in slumber, and these time-tested methods may just save your sanity and your baby's nap time.
Draw the shades to simulate nighttime, leaving a night light on so your baby is not startled when he wakes up. Turn on a sound machine or lullaby music to drown out the sounds in the rest of the house. White noise mimics the sounds a baby hears in the womb, and many infants sleep more soundly with some sort of noise in the background. A comfortable bed and non-restrictive clothing all help to promote a state of rest.
Newborns are accustomed to tight, confining spaces, and many find comfort in being bound snugly with a blanket. Whether you use a commercial product designed specifically for swaddling or just a baby blanket, the practice of securing a baby tightly with arms held close to her body keeps her from startling when her limbs fall outward as her body relaxes. Check with your pediatrician to ensure you are wrapping the baby correctly and placing her in the safest sleeping position -- on her back to sleep, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
On The Move
Many parents have put a lot of miles on the family vehicle by driving around the block until Junior finally succumbs to sleep. The motion of the vehicle is like a sleeping aid for some infants, and you can re-create the feeling without ever leaving the house. A rocking chair, baby swing or vibrating infant seat can all soothe fussy youngsters, and the latter two pieces of gear also help give weary parents a break, too.
Wear Your Baby
Some babies are not happy unless they are being held, and pediatrician Dr. Sears suggests baby-wearing as a method to calm and bond with your baby. From birth, babies can be worn in a pouch-style sling that allows a parent to use their hands for other tasks while soothing the baby with movement and body heat. Older babies can be worn in a soft-structured carrier on the front or back, and both styles of carriers support the baby in natural, comfortable positions that are conducive to falling asleep.
A Little Suction
While it isn't recommended that you nurse or bottle-feed your baby until she falls asleep, it might help her to settle down if she has something to suck on while she's drifting off to dream world. If you are breastfeeding, wait until it is firmly established -- at least 1 month of age -- and then offer her a pacifier at nap time. In addition to providing soothing comfort through sucking, pacifiers might also help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).