Sleep is so important for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. As adults, we know how hard sleep deprivation can be and how absolutely awful you feel when you have barely slept. When we have our babies, we, of course, want to be the best parents we can, but that is often very difficult when you are absolutely exhausted.
It’s a good idea to put into practice some healthy sleep habits to help baby sleep from the early days. Often families who are really suffering from lack of sleep find that just a few of these minor tweaks are all that’s needed to help baby sleep better and for longer stretches.
1. Address Any Medical Issues
This is often a good place to start; making sure that your little one is not suffering with:
- Silent reflux
Any of the above will naturally disturb your little ones’ sleep, as they are uncomfortable. If you think your baby could be suffering from any medical issues then reach out to your GP or other specialists for support.
2. Setting Up a Sleep Space
Your little one’s sleep space is a really important aspect of their sleep. Whether it be in your room or their own room it should be a calm, uncluttered, comfortable area. Keep their cots free of mobiles, toys and light display shows, as we want this to be a calming area. Block out any light creeping in – stick on blackout blinds will do the job and often cardboard can be used for a quick fix until something more permanent is in place.
A noise machine to block any loud household noises or other siblings is great. Make sure that this plays consistently throughout the night and does not turn on and off as this will often wake your baby.
Make sure that your little one is dressed appropriately for the temperature of the room. Our bodies naturally dip in temperature when we sleep, if your baby overheats or is cold in the early hours of the morning, this can result in more wakes. The ideal room temperature is generally between 16-20 degrees celsius. Each baby is different though and some run hotter or colder than others. You can always check by feeling the back of your baby’s neck.
3. Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine can be started from a really young age and this is such a great way to let your little one know that sleep is coming and to help them feel safe in knowing what is coming next. When your baby is really little your routine can be short and sweet and as they get older it can get longer. Your routine should consist of the same steps in the same order every night, for example:
- Bath time
- Baby massage
- PJs & sleepsuit on
- Bedtime feed (if applicable)
- Short story/song
- Kiss & cuddle
- Into bed
Connection with your baby can often be overlooked, but your little one will feel more secure and safe if they have felt connected with you during the day. Even 20 or 30 minutes before bedtime if your child is in care during the day, will go a long way in helping them feel safe and secure. A big love bomb goes a long way!
5. Sleepy Cues
As our babies get older we learn what their sleepy cues are and this helps us to determine that we need to start getting them ready for a nap.
Early sleep cues can look like:
- Rubbing eyes
- Glazed expression
- Waving arms and legs
- Going pale
- Red eyebrows
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of interest in what they are doing etc.
Some babies don’t show sleepy signs and this can be where it may be helpful to watch their awake windows to determine when they need their next nap. Watching these awake windows can really help baby nap better.
- 0-12 weeks: 45 mins to 1-hour max
- 12-16 weeks: 1.15 mins to 1.30 mins max
- 17-25 weeks: 1.30 mins – 2 hours max
- 6-7 months: 2 hours max
- 7-8 months: 2 to 3 hours max
- 9-12 months: 3 to 4 hours max
Sometimes just a few tweaks can be all you need to improve your little ones’ sleep. As parents, we learn and grow as we go. Baby’s sleep is unfortunately not a straight line, and sometimes they have good days and bad days just as we do as adults. Be patient with the process and try not to put pressure on yourself or your little human.
If you have any questions or need any advice to help toddler sleep, please get in touch for a chat, I’d love to assist you and your family. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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