Well I think the time has come that I let you in on a little secret…my husband, daughter and I will be welcoming a new little star into our family this coming July. While I know this will be a joyous, life-changing experience that I am SO looking forward to, with all the good comes the sleepless nights full of what feels like endless feedings. This time will be different of course too because I will also have a 2.5 year old to deal with during the days. Am I ready to go through this all again?
When I had my daughter I honestly knew nothing when it came to child sleep. Looking back and knowing what I do now, I can see exactly where I went wrong and why I ended up needing to make drastic changes to help shape her into the Sleep Star that she is today and has been for over a year and a half. So today’s focus is going to be on newborns and the several steps that I plan on taking to start instilling healthy sleep habits with my new little one right from day one!
Step #1: Beware of Sleep Props
A “sleep prop” is anything external that your baby relies on every time that they fall asleep. The most common sleep prop is nursing/bottle feeding to sleep closely followed by soothers and motion (exp. swings, vibrating chairs). If you start to notice that your baby is never falling asleep without their chosen prop, they have most likely formed a reliance on it and it will become increasingly more difficult to break as they get older.
It’s best to encourage your child to develop self soothing skills so that they can fall asleep on their own. The best way to achieve this is to put your child into their crib when they are sleepy but still awake. This will allow them to develop the necessary skills to fall asleep independently without a prop and will help with the reduction of night wakings when the time is right to start to eliminate some feedings.
Step #2: Create a Clear Separation Between “Day” & “Night”
The sooner that you help your baby understand that daytime is for active play and socializing and that night time is for sleeping the better. This can be a bit challenging at the begin when it seems that all your newborn does is sleep, however there are some things that you can do right now to help establish the two different periods to your child.
Adopt a WAKE>EAT>PLAY>SLEEP schedule during the daytime hours. This will help deter any development of a sleep/feed association which is often one of the biggest culprits when it comes to infant sleep struggles. By feeding your baby upon waking they are more alert, take better feeds and are less inclined to fall asleep.
Take your baby outside during the day as much as possible to get fresh air. This helps to set your newborns Circadian Rhythm and encourages good night time sleep.
When your baby wakes at night for a feeding keep them in their room, the lights dim and conversation to a minimum. They will learn quite quickly this way that night time is not play time.
Step #3: Establish a Bedtime Routine
Establishing a good predictable bedtime routine right from day one is a great way to help your baby organize their days and nights. This will also help consolidate their night time sleep more quickly. I always suggest starting the bedtime routine off with bath time. It’s such a significantly different activity then anything else your baby will be doing during the day that it is easy for them to learn quickly that bedtime is near.
Here are a few examples of activities that you can incorporate into your bedtime routine:
- Bath time
- Baby Massage
- Brushing Gums/Teeth
- Short Story or Lullaby
- Kisses Goodnight 🙂
By following a consistent routine every night you will teach your baby to look forward to their bedtime, anticipate what will happen next and help them learn what is expected of them when they are laid down in their bassinet or crib.
Do you know someone with a newborn or who will be expecting a baby soon? Please pass this newsletter on to them or a link to this blog post to ensure that they have the keys to raising an independent little Sleep Star!