As a new parent, you’ve probably realized that you need to appreciate the value of a good night’s sleep - not just for you, but for your baby too. To get some much-needed rest, you need to figure out a sleep pattern your little baby can learn to settle into. Thankfully, there are plenty who have walked this path before you, learning effective strategies that you too can use and follow. Applying their expert advice, we’ve compiled a list of practical tips to help ensure your baby will get a good night’s sleep (so you can too).
1. Establish A Consistent Bedtime Routine
Routine is everything for a baby. By creating a regular bedtime routine, you’re setting a predictable pattern that signals it’s time for sleep. This could include a variety of things like a warm bath, a soothing lullaby, a bedtime story, or a gentle massage. You ideally want to start at least 30 minutes before you want your baby to sleep, giving them time to register and process what’s going on. It’s all in the cues: once your baby starts associating these activities with sleep, they’ll start to feel sleepy too as you go through the routine. Remember to stay consistent though, even on the weekends so you can maintain this cycle.
2. Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Adults already find it difficult enough to sleep in a noisy, bright environment, so you should take note to create a tranquil, comfortable sleeping environment for your baby. Trust us, it will work wonders. The room should be quiet, either dimly lit or dark, and maintain a cool but comfortable temperature. Also, consider using white noise machines or fans that can help drown out sudden noises that might wake your baby randomly throughout the night. Invest in a comfortable crib with a firm mattress, and instead of using blankets, use sleepwear to prevent risks of suffocation or overheating. Creating a safe space is step one to providing better sleep for your baby.
3. Learn to Recognize Sleep Cues
When you pay close attention, you’ll realize that every baby gives off signals when they’re ready to sleep. Whether it's rubbing their eyes, yawning, looking away, or growing impatient and fussy, responding to these sleep cues promptly can help your baby fall asleep before they become overtired. When your baby becomes overtired, they can have a much harder time falling asleep, leading to more frequent wake-ups throughout the night. The key here is observation: learn to identify your baby’s particular signs of sleepiness and respond accordingly and swiftly.
4. Implement a Healthy Feeding Schedule
Surprised? Believe it or not, how you handle your baby’s feeding schedule can significantly impact their sleep pattern. What you need to do is aim for consistent feeding times during the day so your baby is getting enough to eat and won’t go to bed hungry. If they’re hungry at night, you’re definitely going to hear about it! Over time, if you maintain this pattern, your baby will start sleeping for longer stretches at night and need fewer nighttime feedings. Furthermore, for any breastfeeding moms, keep in mind that certain foods in your diet may affect your baby’s sleep, so make sure to note down any potential correlations.
5. Promote Daytime Activity and Interaction
Encouraging active play and interaction during the day is surprisingly beneficial to your baby’s sleep schedule. Helping them to differentiate between day and night, it makes it more likely that they can sleep for longer stretches at night. Exposure to natural light during the day also helps to regulate their circadian rhythm. While this doesn’t mean you have to stop daytime naps, because it’s also important your baby gets adequate sleep during the day, you should aim to keep longer stretches of sleep purely for nighttime. The goal here is to teach your baby that daytime is for activities, while nighttime is for sleeping.
Every baby has unique habits so you’re likely going to have to try and experiment with different methods before finding one that works best for you. That being said, when you discover the right one, it’ll be a lifesaver that’ll help you get better rest. With these five proven strategies, it’s definitely worth giving them a try!