Establishing a healthy sleep routine
Whoever came up with the term “sleeping like a baby” obviously didn’t have a baby. Babies are nocturnal creatures (yes, just like owls, bats and badgers) and don’t know the difference between day and night for the first few months. They have just spent the last 9 months in darkness in the womb so it’s understandable. Babies’ tummies are small so they also need to feed every few hours.
Differentiating day and night
Settling them into a healthy sleep routine can be tricky but once you’ve nailed it you’ll feel like you can take on the world. Keep the house bright, with the normal amount of noise during the day, even when baby is sleeping. Don’t tiptoe around them. Getting them used to sleeping in a noisy environment is helpful, as it means that they won’t wake at the slightest sound.
Buy a blackout blind
Keep the house dark and quiet at nighttime, whisper, avoid too much interaction and keep feeds short. They may seem to be awake but could be mostly asleep throughout.
Establish a bedtime routine
Babies won’t be able to sleep through the night until 2-3 months but it’s never too early to start a bedtime routine. A simple one might be – bath them, put on their pyjamas, darken the room, sing them a lullaby or read a quick story, put them into bed and say “goodnight”. They will get used to the “bedtime cues” and begin to learn that this is the start of their “longer” sleep.
Look for signs that they’re sleepy
Don’t wait until they’re overtired and cranky or even asleep before putting them to bed. Put them in drowsy but still awake. This way they’ll get used to falling asleep themselves and won’t wake up in a panic wondering where you went.
Avoid too much rocking
Rocking and car trips can get baby to sleep but if they get too used to this method they may not be able to get to sleep without it and you may find yourself driving around all night trying to settle them.
White noise can help
White noise can work wonders to get babies to sleep and it’s a much easier routine to stick to. Some babies are soothed by the sound of the dishwasher or tumble drier, as it’s similar to the sounds they heard in the womb. Better still, you can download white noise albums with soothing sounds like tropical rainforests and cascading waterfalls. (Just be careful you don’t nod off yourself.)
Keep a sleep diary
Keeping track of when your baby sleeps can help to give you an idea of their routine. It may seem completely random at first but it will gradually become more predictable.
Stick to the routine as much as you can. Of course there will be days when you can’t and it can be harder if you have older children but the more consistent the routine, the more settled your baby will be.