Baby sleep habits can be baffling, and constant lack of sleep can turn our lives upside down. Whether it’s a baby not being able to settle at night, or a toddler who refuses to nap, the results are the same: A parent who is sleep-deprived and in need of some baby sleep help.
Baby sleep help step 1: Choose an early bedtime
Working towards an early bedtime for a child is crucial for a good night’s sleep. When babies are overtired they may have more difficulty falling asleep due to the adrenaline present in their system. This often leads to more wake ups in the night as well as early morning wake ups. Practicing early bedtimes lead to a more restful sleep and a later waking in the morning.
Step 2: Regular naps
The better a child is able to nap during the day, the better they will sleep at night and the less likely they are to be overtired at bedtime. A restorative nap lasts one hour or more (shorter naps are common during a baby’s first 6 months). A nap space should be in a quiet, sedentary location and not in a pram or car, which is not nearly as restorative. If possible try the first nap of the day at home and if necessary the rest can be on the move.
Step 3: Create a strong and predicable bedtime routine
Newborns sleep 16 or more hours a day but the pattern might be erratic at first. A more consistent sleep schedule will emerge as your baby matures and can go longer between feedings.When you feel ready, start implementing a predictable bedtime every night with some simple steps starting with a bath or a wash. When they know what to expect at bedtime, it makes it easier for them to make the transition from waking to sleeping. Try and keep it to around 40 minutes if you can, this will help your baby develop a an understanding that bedtime and sleep is near. Keep it going even on holidays, it will help your baby feel safe and relaxed in new environments.
Step 4: Put your baby to bed awake
If you’ve been rocking, nursing or otherwise soothing your baby to sleep, this may seem like a tough decision, but it’s only by letting your baby fall asleep without your help at bedtime that they can develop the necessary skills to remain asleep throughout the night.
Practice going into the cot drowsy or awake at bedtime and once you have achieved this you can start using this same technique on the first nap of the day. It might not be successful the first time but the more you practice the easier it will become.
Step 5: Nightwakings
It’s normal for children of all ages to experience partial awakenings at night as they transition to a different stage of sleep. When parents report that their children are “sleeping through the night,” it isn’t that their babies are never waking up but rather they are falling back into a new stage of sleep independently. Babies sleep very restlessly. Newborn sleep is 50% REM (rapid eye movement). This means they frequently vocalise, and sometimes even open their eyes whilst they are sleeping. Reacting too quickly to your babies sounds can be unhelpful. This can interfere with the development of mature sleep patterns, hindering babies from learning to settle themselves. During the night it can be helpful to give them a few minutes to see if they can get themselves back to sleep, this will also help you understand their different sounds.
Baby sleep help summary:
Take time to understand your baby’s habits and ways of communicating so that you can help them become a better sleeper. At the beginning things can feel a little unsettled but with time and practice sleep will come together. Parenting is hard work so make sure you get rest when possible and ask for help if you need support. If your baby is having continued problems sleeping and you want some professional baby sleep help, you can contact Kate at SimpleSleep for a free initial consultation.