Sometimes just a few small changes can make a world of difference when it comes to your baby's sleep. Yes, every child is different, but that doesn't mean that every child can't get a good night's sleep. Many families that I talk to struggle with the same main issues which are as follows:
1. Multiple night wakings past 6 months old.
2. Too short or too few naps.
3. Waking too early for the day.
4. Needing a sleep association to fall asleep.
Below are five tips for getting a better night's sleep for your baby and your entire family.
Sleep Begets Sleep
As strange as it seems, the more sleep babies get, the better they tend to sleep. Babies and children up to four years old need A LOT of sleep. The better rested a child is during the day, the better he generally will sleep at night. If there are no limits and routines set during the day, it is very difficult to have them at night. Creating a consistent and reliable schedule for your child is very important.
Children and babies need an early bedtime. For some children, this piece is the key to suddenly getting them to sleep through the night. This also tends to help with bedtime battles and early rising. It's a win win because your baby will be asleep before he is overtired and you will get some time with your spouse. When baby's are put down too late and when they are overtired, they tend to night wake more and not sleep as soundly and can wake up very early for the day.
Bedtime Routines are Important
Yes! Bedtime routines are essential. Children thrive on consistency and routine. Your routine should be basically the same every night, no more than 20 minutes and can include stories, songs, snuggling etc. Following a similar pattern every night will help prepare your baby for sleep. Turn your white noise on 30 minutes before you start your routine. This tells your child's body sleep time is coming.
Sleep crutches are what a baby/child relies on in order to fall asleep. Examples would be nursing to sleep, bottle feeding to sleep, being rocked to sleep, held to sleep, patted to sleep, sleeping in the swing or stroller etc. For toddlers some sleep crutches can be when a parent lays with the child, holds the child's hand, let's the child twirl mom's hair etc. Sleep crutches become a problem because your child needs YOU in order to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night. Babies need lots of love and snuggles and this is SO important. It can become a problem when you are rocking or nursing your child all night long and you have decided that it's not working for either of you any more. The key is to have your baby or child fall asleep the same way that they will need to soothe themselves in the middle of the night. Putting your baby to bed drowsy but awake is a great start.
Consistency is Paramount
No matter what method you use or how you decide to go about it, consistency is always key! Your baby needs to know what to expect from you and how you are going to respond to her. Sticking with your plan is the key to your success. You also have a much better chance of being successful if you are using a method that you are comfortable with and is in line with your parenting style. This makes it less likely that you will find yourself wanting to quit. Be patient. With time and consistency, results should come!