If you have a baby at home, you probably already know that sleepless nights are common. However, it doesn't have to be that way every night.
Today I want to share with you 5 simple steps to improving your baby's sleep that you can implement TONIGHT.
1. Follow an appropriate schedule
If you have a newborn at home, please know that it is normal that they sleep in short stretches throughout the day and night. Keep in mind that this will improve fairly soon if you establish some healthy habits from the very beginning. For now, get to know your baby, learn their sleep cues and respond to their needs to strengthen your bond and trust.
If you have an older baby, I recommend to start and end your day at the same time everyday, to help your baby's 'internal clock" settle. Keep this in mind:
- Babies natural wake up window: 6:00 - 7:30 am
- Naps: depend on age of your baby (3 naps at 6 months / 1 nap at 18+ months)
- Babies natural bedtime: 7:00 - 8:00 pm
You can also use these schedules as reference as your baby grows.
2. Establish a soothing and predictable routine
Establishing a bedtime and naptime routine since the early days of your baby is extremely beneficial. It provides comfort and sense of security for your child as it makes it easier for them to anticipate what comes next. It also prepares your child for sleep by having them relax and wind down. A predictable routine also helps them to fall asleep on their own.
A good bedtime routine takes between 20 and 40 minutes. It might include a bath, infant massage, feeding, a book or song and some cuddling. Whatever you choose to include in your routine, the important thing is that you repeat the same every time.
3. Offer a sleep-friendly environment
A good sleep environment is:
a. Cool: Between 68 to 70 F.
b. Dark: Blackouts are your best option.
c. Silent: Use white noise to block out external noise.
d. Dull: Remove toys, mobiles or anything that can be distracting.
e. Consistent: Have your baby sleep in the same sleep space every time to give them regularity.
4. Be aware of developmental changes
Developmental changes are those milestone moments that indicate that your baby is thriving. They are exciting for sure! but they can also be a bit disruptive. They are also temporary.
These are some of the most common developmental changes:
Separation anxiety: There is a peak of separation anxiety at around 8 months, 12 months, 18 months and every 6 months after that. It is associated with the beginning of physical milestones like crawling, standing, walking, talking, imagination, etc. but it is mostly part of a developmental milestone called object permanence (recognizing different faces and places).
New mobility: Depending on your child's age, they will start showing new skills like siting up, crawling, standing, walking, running, climbing, etc. The best way to help your child during these stages is to encourage them to practice the new skill as much as they can during the day, so that it doesn't disrupt their sleep.
Growth spurts: The timing of growth spurts cannot be pinned down, but there are some timelines you can consider. In their first year, baby's go through about 7 or 8 growth spurts, every two or three months. As they grow, these become less impactful as they start to incorporate solids in their diet.
Teething: Teething happens sporadically and it is impossible to anticipate, but be sure that a baby that is well rested and knows how to put themselves to sleep will have a better time than a baby who is overtired and cranky. Ask your doctor about pain medication if that is something you'd like to explore.
5. Consider sleep training
Getting good, uninterrupted sleep is crucial for a baby's development, and it also impacts the family's overall wellbeing. Sleep training teaches your baby healthy sleep habits, so they fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and put themselves back to sleep if they wake up during the night.
I personally recommend using a gentle, gradual approach that is tailored to your specific needs and family values. Head to my website to learn about my method or schedule a free 15 minute call to start your sleep training journey.
BONUS TIP: Room share until your baby is at least year old.
This promotes bonding, connection, and sense of security, which will help your baby, have better sleep every night.