Want to know the secret recipe for getting your baby to sleep through the night? So does every other mom of a little one. But the truth is; there is no secret formula for babies sleeping through the night.
However, there are simple, strategic steps you can take to move in that direction. Getting your baby to sleep all night long requires some simple planning all day long.
Here are 6 baby sleep tips you can try today to help your baby sleep better:
Baby Sleep Tip #1: Awake Times!
Did you know that being tired is one of the biggest enemies of sleep? That's right. Your little one can actually be too tired to drift off into dreamland. And it happens more quickly than you might realize.
Some general guidelines for the amount of awake time your little one should have between sleep times:
- Newborns (0-12 weeks): 45 minutes of awake time
- 3-5 months: 1.5-2 hours of awake time
- 6-8 months: 2-3 hours of awake time
- 9-12 months: 3-4 hours of awake time
- 13 months to 2.5 years: 5-6 hours of awake time
So how do you make this happen? Put your child down for a nap before they are too tired and desperately need it. That will help at bedtime as well!
While watching the clock makes a big difference,quality wake time for your little one is just as important! Make sure you are engaging your little one with age appropriate activities.
Thepicture alphabet blocks are one of our favorites for babies under 6 months. Simply build a tower with the blocks and have the baby kick it down with his or her feet while on their back or try to roll towards it during tummy time.
Theshape sorter andlacing and tracing toys are awesome for toddlers! Toys without lights and sounds are the best at fostering your child’s development, keeping him or her adequately engaged during awake time.
Baby Sleep Tip #2: Eliminate the Feeding-Sleeping Association
The feed-sleep association is pretty common amongst babies. Many are used to being nursed or bottle fed to sleep. While I’m a huge advocate for nursing our children often and for as long as it works for your family, nursing to sleep can work against you in the wee hours of the night.
If your baby is under 6 months old, it’s likely that they need a feed when her or she wakes in the night (although I see 12 week olds sleep 12 hours all the time!). The problem is when a babyonly knows how to sleep by being nursed to sleep.
So when he or she wakes up in the night and are not hungry, the baby will still call out to nurse because he or she feels tired and does not know how to fall back to sleep without nursing.
Feeding and sleeping can become inseparable partners in the little one’s mind – which can lead to exhausting nights for both mom and baby!
For naps - try feeding your child right after nap time. That will help break that connection in his or her mind, while allowing the little one to fall back to sleep without intervention overnight when waking between sleep cycles.
At bedtime you definitely want to offer a feed as part of the bedtime routine, but work on keeping your little one nice and awake for the duration of the feed!
How can you keep your baby awake?Shaking a small toy while your little one is eating can give him or her something to focus on while also preventing the baby from drifting off into dreamland before you place them into the crib.
Baby Sleep Tip #3: Be Predictable & Boring
You've probably noticed that your little one loves a routine. Routines provide a reliable rhythm to the day, which is comforting. Doing the same things in the same order provides security for children!
By creating a predictable rhythm for your baby in the 20-30 minutes before every bedtime, you are letting your little one know that sleep time is coming. Thus helping him or her prepare for great sleep.
For instance... Take a warm bath with lavender essential oils, do a calming massage, get in jammies, read a story, and have a bottle or nurse. Just like that - the same way, at the same time each day.
Trust me - you want to keep it boring. No extra excitement before bed. If your little one tries to "play" with you by throwing stuffed animals on the floor or running away when you're about to read a book, don't play back.
Those final 5 minutes before bed should be particularly calming, too.
Baby Sleep Tip #4: Keep It Dark
Our bodies know that we sleep when it's dark because that's the natural order of things. So whether it's nap time or bedtime, keep your baby's room as dark as possible.
Considerblackout curtains and blinds, but also be aware that nightlights and clocks that glow can disrupt sleep.
Teaching your baby from the get-go that the dark is a great place to rest will help him or her keep this habit as they get older. The truth is that little ones who nap in a dark room will nap better and longer.
Baby Sleep Tip #5: Consistent Time & Place
Just like your child does best with a predictable routine, your baby will sleep through the night more predictably if he or she is sleeping in the same place at the same time, too.
Your child should be able to know "sleep happens here" regardless of nap time or bedtime. Try to avoid sleeping in strollers, car seats, or your arms, if you want them to sleep longer and better.
Ideally a baby should fall asleep where he or she will stay asleep. That will alleviate any shock from falling asleep in mama's arms and waking up in a different place.
Baby Sleep Tip #6: Always Count 1, 2, 3
A sleep cycle lasts approximately 45 minutes, and it's normal to wake up at the end of each one. For adults, that awake moment is so slight they won't even remember it in the morning.
But for a baby? Well, it can be hard to fall back to sleep. If your little one is not familiar with self-soothing in any way and instead relies on you to rock or feed to sleep, he or she will likely cry for you at those times when ideally the little one could go right back to sleep.
So on the first day you're working on better sleep habits, wait one minute before going in to reassure your baby. On the second day, wait 2 minutes. And on the third day, wait 3 minutes.
In time, he or she will learn to settle back to sleep on their own.
If you start applying these six simple steps today, your baby can start sleeping better tonight!
Still stuck? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for afree 15 minute evaluation call.
Every family deserves rest!
Katie Pitts is a certified pediatric and adult sleep consultant and the founder of Sleep Wise Consulting. She has a dual master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Educational Administration. After 3 months of sleepless nights, Katie found a quick gentle solution to solve her son’s sleep problems. Shortly after this, she became certified as a baby and toddler sleep consultant and founded Sleep Wise Consulting. Katie became certified in adult sleep after continuously being asked “you fixed my baby’s sleep, now can you help me?” For four years, Katie has given families the tools they need to teach their children (and themselves!) to sleep at night and has helped over 1,500 families.
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