When you welcome your new baby into your home, you’re signing up for a few months of sleeplessness. Your baby’s sleeping habits can turn your life upside down if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Figuring out your newborn’s sleep schedule can be difficult, but it is possible to get some rest if you make a few changes to your routine. In this article, we’ll give you 5 tips to help your baby go to sleep better. Once you’ve gotten the hang of these tricks, you’ll enjoy putting your bundle of joy to sleep so you can catch a few zzz’s too!
1. Follow the natural 24-hour cycle
Adults are used to the natural clock of the earth – this is why we feel energised during the day and get more tired and sleepy as night approaches. However, babies are not used to this rhythm as they are not exposed to sunlight while in the womb.
Get your baby used to the natural circadian rhythm as soon as possible by following a reliable routine. Let your baby get some sunlight in the morning so that it feels awake and energised. Do not use blackout curtains when your baby naps during the day.
As evening approaches, avoid exposure to bright artificial lights. This will increase the natural production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), and your baby will be more likely to sleep for longer hours.
Pro tip - Do not use electronics at bedtime. The blue light from screens interferes with melatonin production. If you want a visual aid, use a book instead of a screen.
2. Soothe before your baby falls asleep
At five months, your baby is capable of self-soothing and falling to sleep on its own. When naptime approaches, soothe your baby in your arms and lay it on the crib while drowsy but awake. The slow rocking motion of the crib is enough for your drowsy baby to go to sleep.
If you place your baby in the crib after it is already asleep, it is more likely to be scared when it wakes up, because the environment may be unfamiliar.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up cuddling your little one. Cuddle, rock, and go through your bedtime routine while the baby is awake, and place it gently in the crib before it falls asleep.
3. Keep things uninteresting during night feeding
Since infants need to be fed every few hours, it is impossible for them to sleep throughout the night for the first few months.
When you have to feed your infant at night, keep things as ‘boring’ and uninteresting as possible. Your infant looks up to you and is fascinated by everything that you do. If you engage in conversation, use an excited voice, or use toys while feeding your baby at night, it is more likely to fully wake up. This might mess up the 24-hour routine.
To prevent this, avoid conversation while feeding your child at night. The Team at LittleOak suggests not using distractions like toys or mobile phones. Feel free to cuddle, soothe, and sing lullabies, but avoid using an excited tone – reserve this for playtime during the day!
4. Regulate naptime
Babies usually need to nap every 90 minutes. As your infant gets older, tweak this to stretch out the last waking time before bedtime. This will ensure that your baby gradually sleeps for a long while at night.
Have a solid bedtime routine so your baby knows what to expect. While napping during the day, put your baby in the crib so that it gets used to the familiar rocking motion. This will ensure that your baby does not have problems sleeping in the crib at night.
5. Regulate feeding time
Infants should be fed every 2-2.5 hours. If your baby cries for food every 1 hour or so, this usually means that they are looking for a snack. Avoid snacking before bedtime as this can interfere with the sleep schedule.
A fully fed baby should be able to sleep for 4-6 hours by 3 months of age; a baby who only snacks may wake up earlier than this time.
Although adjusting to your baby’s sleep schedule can be overwhelming, figuring it out is a very rewarding part of parenting. Remember that every baby is different, so watch and listen to your baby to understand its language. Consult your doctor in case of any concerns.