There are different types of prayers, ranging from a request to a higher power to fulfill a wish to a meditation or communion with the divine. Similarly, sleep prayers for a baby may serve various purposes, such as lulling your baby to sleep or alleviating your own anxiety over your baby’s safety. Prayers can be part of a nighttime routine with your baby, providing comfort and peace.
Soothe Your Child
Your baby may not understand a prayer’s words, but she recognizes your voice as well as the tone. If you want to settle her down to sleep, recite a soothing prayer. The words aren’t as important as the cadence. You can also use short poems as prayers. For example, in his 2005 book “Bedtime Prayers for the Family,” author Thomas Nelson cites Victor Hugo’s poem “Goodnight.” The poem reads: “Good Night! Good Night! / Far flies the light; / But still God’s love / Shall flame above, / Making all bright. / Good night! Good night!”
Establish a Routine
If your baby is agitated at bedtime or isn’t sleeping through the night, an erratic day may be the cause. Babies thrive on routine and are reassured by predictable activities. By saying sleep prayers to your baby on a regular basis, it can help to reestablish a routine in your baby’s mind and calm her. For example, the traditional prayer “Now I Lay Me Down” for babies can become part of nighttime ritual. It reads: “Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray you, Lord, my soul to keep. / If I should die before I wake, / I pray You, Lord, my soul to take.”
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is one of the primary causes of infant mortality. About 2,500 babies die of SIDS annually in the U.S., according to “Broadribb’s Introduction Pediatric Nursing” by Nancy Hatfield. When it strikes, it’s quick, silent and unexpected. Sleep prayers can calm not only the baby but also a mother who has anxiety about SIDS and her baby’s safety. According to Jennifer Polimino and Carolyn Warren’s 2001 book “Praying Through Your Pregnancy,” add a few lines to your sleep prayer such as “I pray for safety while my baby sleeps. / Protect her from SIDS or any other harm. / Let your angels watch over her all through the night -- and the daytime too.”
Consider Your Culture
Different cultures have their own traditional sleep prayers for a baby. The popular “Now I Lay Me Down” comes from a Christian tradition and may not suit your cultural heritage or tastes. For example, if you’re Jewish, you may want to petition God to sprinkle your baby with a “sukkah of piece,” according to Sandy Falk’s 2004 book “The Jewish Pregnancy Book: A Resource for the Soul, Body & Mind during Pregnancy, Birth & the First Three Months.”
- Baby Sign Language: A Step-by-Step Guide to Communicating with Your Little One; Suzie Chafin
- Baby Codes: 101 Winning Combinations to Help Your Baby Sleep; Kevin Mills
- Sleep Solutions: Quiet Nights for You and Your Child; Rachel Waddilove
- Praying Through Your Pregnancy: An Inspirational Week-by-Week Guide for Moms-to-Be; Jennifer Polimino and Carolyn Warren
- The Everything Get Your Baby to Sleep Book: Solve Common Problem So You Can Rest, Too; Cynthia MacGregor
- Jewish Lights Publishing: Prayer for Sleep
- Expectant Prayers for Expectant Mothers; Jennifer J. Weiss
- Bedtime Prayers for the Family; Thomas Nelson
- Putting Their Hands in His: Teaching Children How to Pray; Ruthie Jacobsen and Noelene Johnsson
- Broadribb’s Introduction Pediatric Nursing; Nancy T. Hatfield
- Photo Credit shironosov/iStock/Getty Images
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