1. Keeping the routine
Deborah Givan, M.D., professor emerita of clinical pediatrics at Indiana University in Indianapolis, says: “Babies learn that it’s time to sleep, and one way to do that is to get cues from the environment.” . Thirty minutes before bedtime, turn down the noise and dim the lights. “The right light is essential because it helps set the baby’s biological clock,” she explains. “Our brains associate light and darkness with wakefulness or sleep. Dimming the lights at night and exposing baby to bright light in the morning will help this process.”
Once you’ve minimized stimulation, you can introduce other calming rituals, such as a warm bath or a gentle lullaby. Dr. Girvan recommends regular treatment as soon as possible, preferably by six to eight weeks. Be consistent so that your baby knows what will happen each night.
2. Teach self-soothing
Newborns benefit from rocking, bouncing, and soothing sleep, but babies develop quickly and don’t need these things forever. “By about 5 months of age, most babies can fall asleep on their own, and if we’re still doing that for them, we’re getting in their way,” says Heather Turgeon, co-author of The Happy Sleeper and a Los Angeles-based sleep consultant. Turgeon, co-author of The Happy Sleeper and Los Angeles sleep consultant Heather Turgeon, said. “Practice putting your baby down at least once a day when you’re awake during the first few months – the first nap is usually the most successful.” This will help her learn to self-soothe and fall asleep, and, more importantly, to put herself back to sleep. Keep your cuddle time, but gradually stop patting, shushing and rocking until she falls asleep.
3. Separate eating and sleeping
“Newborns often fall asleep while eating, and I don’t want anyone to feel stressed about it,” says Turgeon. “However, by 4 or 5 months, infants tend to sleep better if the act of going to sleep is separate from feeding.” Like other sleep crutches, if your baby dozes off during meals, he’ll think he needs to eat any time he wakes up during the night. Another problem with this situation, says Amy Pate of Nashville, is that if you only breastfeed your child, “you’re the only one who can get your child to go to bed.” Pate had nursed her child to sleep for a year.
Think of it this way: “By 5 months of age, if your baby is nodding off at feedings, you need to start a regular bedtime as soon as possible,” says Turgeon. Gradually advance feedings until he’s able to finish, then end with a calming book and a song that will keep him drowsy but awake. You may still need to get up for a nighttime feeding, but that will be about hunger, not soothing.
4. Go to bed early, not late
Timing is as important as routine. At about 8 weeks, babies’ melatonin levels rise, a natural sleep-inducing hormone that the body releases when it’s time to sleep, meaning they’re ready to go to bed early at sunset,” says Turgeon. . “If you let them stay up late, they become over-excited, dysregulated and more difficult to inhibit.” Melatonin levels rise at sunset, but given that sunset times can range from 4:30 p.m. in the winter to 8:30 p.m. in the summer, you’ll want to stick to a timer and get your baby out of bed around 6:30 or 7:00 p.m.
Turgeon says: “A good sign of lethargy is when your baby becomes calm – she becomes less active, looks bored, or just stares.” . Don’t mistake this behavior for the joy of being awake. Take advantage of this moment to start your bedtime routine. “Your baby’s biological clock will tell her when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep, and you want to reinforce that,” she says.
5. Give up snacking
“Sleep and nutrition are inextricably linked,” says Pruch. For the first eight weeks of life, a baby should be fed on demand every two to two and a half hours, but watch how much or how long he eats to make sure it’s an effective feeding. “If he’s eating for 20 minutes during the night and only five to 10 minutes during the day, he’s just snacking instead of filling up so he can sleep through the night,” Pruch said. To prevent this from happening, record how many ounces of milk a bottle-fed infant drank at what time. For a breastfed baby, write down how long he nursed each time.
On the other hand, if your baby is eating well during the day, at about two and a half to three months of age, he should be able to sleep for four to six hours straight at night. To help him eat more efficiently, spread out his feeding time ーー distract him with a pacifier or entertainment ーー so he’ll feel hungry every time. Don’t ignore the hiccups. Sometimes, says Pruch, “we mistakenly think we’re done with something from the breast or bottle when in fact the baby needs to burp.” .
6. Take naps seriously
A well-rested child will sleep better than an overtired one. This may sound counterintuitive, but it doesn’t work to get her to sleep longer at night without napping. “When infants are overtired, their stress hormones go up,” says Turgeon. “Once they finally fall asleep, it likely won’t last long because those stress hormones will wake them up when they’re in a lighter stage of sleep.” That’s why it’s so important to have regular naps.
At two months of age, says Turgeon, “the best time for an infant to be awake is about 90 minutes between sleeps, and that time passes quickly.” . “Infants don’t have a tolerance for more than this amount of sleep until they’re 4 to 5 months old.” Keep your eye on the clock, because staring into your baby’s tired eyes isn’t easy. If you just turn around to pour yourself another cup of coffee, you might miss the “I’m ready for my nap” stare. Then, suddenly, she’s rubbing her eyes and yawning, all signs of overwork.
7. Do not let him snooze anywhere
It’s tempting to let your lover snooze in his car seat while you’re on the road or lay on your chest while you’re on the phone. You should try to nap in his crib at least once a day as early as possible so he gets the quality rest he needs. “For a baby, that first nap can refresh and dictate a full day’s schedule; ideally, you want him to take a nap in his crib at home,” Pruch says. “The second one is physically restorative, so once your baby is old enough to move around a lot, he really needs that quality sleep.”
By 3 to 4 months of age, your little one will be awake longer, and you can set up a nap schedule: one in the morning, one in the early afternoon, and a nap in the late afternoon if needed. Naps are a great time for you to practice putting your baby to sleep. It’s not the middle of the night, so you can think more clearly, understand the cues, and then stick to them. 8.
8. Give her a chance to go down on her own
If you rush in immediately to help your little one fall back to sleep, you’ll create a cycle that’s hard to break. “As long as you know she won’t be hungry, you can pause before rushing in,” says Turgeon, who recommends starting with a “soothing ladder” from day one. When you hear your baby fussing, pause for a minute and see if she can work it out on her own. If she can’t, go in and do the least intrusive thing you can, like patting her or shushing her, but don’t pick her up,” says Turgeon. .
If that works, great. If it doesn’t, you slowly climb the soothing ladder until you get her to sleep again. Yes, you may rock her and feed her, especially if she’s less than 3 or 4 months old, but the next time she wakes up, start interfering with her life again. “The point of the soothing ladder is not for the infant to learn to self-soothe overnight, but to give him enough space for his self-soothing skills to unfold naturally over time,” says Turgeon.
9. Don’t overthink it
“For the first four months, give your baby a little space to let you know what he’s capable of,” says Turgeon. You’ll give your little one plenty of energy, and once he does fall asleep, a well-rested you will be more capable than you think. Sweet dreams!