If you Google “sleep training”, you’ll see any number of methods and styles for getting baby to sleep through the night. But here’s the thing: there’s no trick to it. Humans are biologically hardwired to get sleep when our bodies need it. Yes, we’ll fight it. Adults will fight it to binge watch one more episode or read one more chapter. And babies, despite lack of control over the remote, will sometimes fight it too.
How do they fight it? As it turns out, it’s the parents who are often engaging in behaviors that are preventing baby from sleeping, or more to the point, sleeping well. Bedtime routines and habits are at the crux of the problem. Here’s a list of tips to be sure that you get on track with baby’s sleep routines:
Put Baby to Bed While They’re Still Awake
It sounds counterintuitive, right? You are probably thinking that the best thing would be to rock or walk the baby to sleep, and then set them down ever so carefully in their crib. But in fact, getting babies to fall asleep by themselves is a major contributor to their having more hours of consecutive sleep a night. A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics indicated that: “Parental presence until sleep onset was the factor most strongly associated with not sleeping at least 6 consecutive hours per night at 17 months and 29 months of age.” So while putting them down awake may not be your first instinct, give it a try. If you stick to it, you might be surprised by the results!
Tip: Newborns in particular don’t fall fully asleep right away, even when they seem to have done so in your arms or during a feeding! Their eyes might be closed but they’re not fully asleep. They’re just messing with you! You’ll find this out when the second you put them down in their crib, their eyes will pop open again, wide awake and alert. If your newborn does fall asleep before you put them down, check for a lack of eye movement beneath the closed eyelids to be sure they’re in a deep sleep!
Give Up the Night Feedings
It turns out that feeding your baby in the middle of the night can also impact the quality and duration of sleep. In the same JAMA Pediatrics study that was mentioned in the previous point, the authors found: “The factor most strongly associated with not sleeping at least 6 consecutive hours per night at 5 months of age was feeding the child after an awakening.”
If baby is getting the bulk of their daily caloric intake during the day / early evening, they can start to wean off their overnight feed at about four to six months old. That said, the experts from JAMA Pediatrics aren’t with you at night when baby is yowling so go with your gut and if you think they still need that middle of the night feeding, go ahead and give it to them. Better fed and happy than hungry and crying!
Establish a Bedtime Routine and Stick To It
Routines are essential for kids in most aspects of their lives, even from a very young age. It gives them boundaries and a sense of safety in knowing what’s coming up next. Keeping to a routine of a feeding, a change, perhaps a bath or a reading a story quietly in their room is an important routine to start and stick to. Doing these same things at more or less the same time every night is not only good for their long term sleep habits but apparently, it also benefits their brains. A recent study out of the University College London showed that when 3 year olds were put to bed at a consistent time, their performance on specific cognitive tests, given at age 7, were far superior to that of children who had irregular bedtimes. It’s an interesting correlation that might be up for debate, but the value of a good routine is well established as being a major contributor to children becoming excellent sleepers.
Safe Sleep Above All Else
Regardless of the techniques that parents use to calm and relax baby before sleep, it’s vital to remember that safe sleep is the most important aspect of all. Safe sleep means a quiet, darkened environment and a sleep area that doesn’t contain pillows, blankets, toys or bumpers. You don’t want anything interfering with your baby’s ability to breathe properly during the night.
Lisa Furuland is the creator of DockATot-the multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting, and snuggling dock for baby that you can take anywhere. Created with love in Sweden with a strict emphasis on design and comfort, there is simply nothing else like it on the market that allows mothers to feed, soothe, and bond with baby. DockATot travels easily from place-to-place and features a plush cocoon-like design which mimicks the mother’s womb and offers optimal protection.Visit DockATot at https://dockatot.com/.
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