During the first few months with a new baby, sleep can be hard to come by. Between feedings and night-wakings, newborns are notorious for keeping weary eyed parents up at all hours of the night. The fact remains that night time feedings are a necessary period for any newborn as they adapt to life outside the womb, but it doesn’t last forever. With a little patience and consistency, there are things you can do to help your baby become a great sleeper!
Depending on the baby, parents and lifestyle, by 2-3 months a baby can benefit from the start of nighttime routines that will be the building blocks of healthy sleep habits as they get older. Sleeping through the night may still be a long way off, but practicing a routine early on will give your baby cues and predictability to eventually be a good sleeper. We successfully used a nightly routine with our now three year old son and we are now beginning to follow that same routine nightly with our 2 month old twins – laying the groundwork for a bedtime ritual that will have everyone sleeping peacefully!
1. Put baby to sleep in the same place each night.
2. Set the tone. Avoid bright lights and play soft music or sounds. Consider any background noise; switch off the TV and try to have older children occupied during that time.
4. Decide on the steps that lead up to baby sleeping. Our sleep routine is as follows: dim lights/music, nurse or bottle feed, change, read story, some rocking and put baby down in crib. Once you have your ‘steps,’ try to stick to the order. These will be the cues (along with the tone of the room) that let your baby know that it’s time for sleep. As they become older, it will become habit. My son, now three, protests if we do something out of order! With the exception of the feeding, his routine is the exactly the same as it was when he was a baby.
5. Put baby down ‘drowsy.’ To promote baby falling asleep alone, put them down just before that point they might fall asleep. This may take practice. Some babies will wake right up or take a while to develop this skill, but keep trying! Falling asleep on their own is one of the best things for their sleep routine/habits.
6. Find what works. If having sleep struggles with older babies – you might find yourself trying out different sleep methods. When you find what works for you and your baby, be consistent with dealing with sleep difficulties.
Above all, remember that it’s a process that does take time. You know your baby best and you may need to adjust or experiment with routines to find what works. The goal is to provide consistency through routine. Hopefully, within time, both parents and baby will be getting great sleep!
Stephanie C. is a mother to three children – an active 3 year old boy and newborn twin girls. A former school counselor, Stephanie is now a stay-at-home mom in New Jersey. You can find parenting tips, twin resources and product picks at her blog, Mammamoiselle.