Fighting a night after night battle getting baby to sleep gets old fast. Many times, the issue can be as simple as getting the little one settled and calm. So, this post will focus on helping you help your baby to relax in order for them to fall sleep.
Probably the biggest key to winning the battle is to maintain a consistent routine so that your baby gets used to it, feels secure in it, and knows when it’s time for bed.
1. Day Time Versus Night Time Routine
Babies don’t track when it’s day time or night time. They sleep when they feel tired and eat when they’re hungry. It’s through their routine that you help them figure this out. The first tip in getting baby to sleep is by keeping a noticeable difference in day time feeding routine versus night time feeding routine.
During the day, you can feed your child under bright light, play with them, socialize and stay rather lively. But make sure night time feedings calm, quiet and dimly lit. This way your baby’s brain will be able to figure out that it’s time to sleep. Soon you won’t have to convince baby it’s time to sleep, they’ll follow the routine themselves after their night time meal is finished.
2. Night Time Regimen
Your goal is obviously to have everyone sleeping through the night. So, you need to develop a specific evening regimen. Every child is different, and you’ll have to figure out what works at your house, but try starting here …
Firstly, feed the baby before putting them down so that hunger doesn’t make them wakeful.
Secondly, get them nice and comfortable. Night time baths are great for this, and generally help to relax babies. It also means they’ll go to bed in a fresh, clean diaper.
After the bath, a nice massage with baby lotion will continue to relax the baby, and also is a beautiful bonding moment.
Then, DO dress them in their pajamas. It sounds obvious, but don’t put them to bed in their day clothes (even though they may seem comfortable enough). It’s sometimes tempting to do this because the baby shows signs of being drowsy, and you just want to get them to bed before the moment passes! But the routine of pajamas send a “night time” signal.
A word on pajamas … “onesies” are fantastic – especially in the cooler months – because they won’t ride up and down like 3-piece outfits. This helps to avoid the little one getting cold.
Reading a short story, singing a favorite nursery rhyme, and saying a prayer again underscore that it’s the end of the day and time for bed. Do all of this in a quiet manner, so that this doesn’t stimulate the baby, but helps them winding down. The sound of your quiet, loving voice, and a familiar routine will work magic in getting baby to sleep … even if they don’t understand the story yet!
3. Keep a Time Margin to Wind Down
How often do you come in from an event and immediately fall asleep? Could you run around the house, then lie on the bed and the next moment be asleep? Of course not. The brain needs time to calm down, stop the stress cycle before you can go to sleep.
In just the same way, your baby needs time to wind down. Turn down all activities at least half an hour before prepping baby to sleep. You and the baby should have time to relax during this 30 minutes.
4. Put Them Down Awake
It’s wonderful to spend time with your baby in your arms throughout the night routine, and you may choose to spend a little time running your hands through their hair or the like. But you don’t want to keep on doing this until they fall asleep. (a) You run the risk of them waking again as you try to put them down, and (b) they’ll keep NEEDING you to put them to sleep in your arms. They need to learn the routine of going into bed and off to sleep.
5. Getting Baby to Sleep … THEN Midnight Waking
All parents have to deal with this. Initially it’s the norm, and even an infant who has started to sleep through may revert from time to time and wake up in the night.
Our simple tip is that you avoid the mistake of ever turning on the lights at night. A glow from a nightlight, flashlight or cell phone should be sufficient for you to see where you’re going (and never shone directly at the child). As the infant grows and learns your routines, lights will simulate daytime and increasingly signal their brain toward wakefulness.
Some of these things seem small, and maybe even obvious to some … but it’s usually the little things that make the difference in helping you and your baby get into a better sleeping routine.
FOR MORE IN-DEPTH HELP: You might want to check out our review of Mary-Ann Schuler’s amazing program …“Baby Sleep Miracle”.