Are you desperate for more sleep and searching for ways to encourage your baby to sleep through the night? Searching the web or bookstores you'll find countless suggestions as to what works best. But if you don't have time or energy to read through long articles or lengthy books, check out what worked wonders for us.
I don't believe in a 'one size fits all' method for this as all babies and parents are different but that being said, there are definitely things that have proven invaluable for us in aiding the sleep training process.
Some babies will sleep through the night naturally, others however may need some encouragement. But remember, it's never too early to start teaching them. This is how we started establishing a bedtime routine when Jonas was just 4 weeks old:
Establish the difference between day and night early on As most babies tend to sleep lots throughout the day and night, it is important to differentiate between the two. Get into the habit early on of setting your own bedtime routine which happens every night. This lets them know after this point they are expected to sleep. I'd recommend starting your routine around 6/6.30pm as the ideal later on is to have them tucked up and asleep by 7pm giving you your evening back.
Keep the room dark As adults our bodies are programmed to sleep when it's dark. Light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that naturally promotes sleep. You want to teach your little one about this therefore keeping the room dark helps establish the idea that nighttime is for sleep.
Use the same routine every night Try to stick to a set pattern every evening. This might consist of a warm bath, a story and song, milk and then bed. Keeping to the same routine and encouraging sleep afterwards lets your little one know what's expected after this point and signals it's nearly bedtime. Using the same routine will reinforce this idea.
Keep the routine relaxing A warm bath is a great start. We used to have lots of fun and loud singing at bath time but after this kept it fairly quiet. After bath time we would change Jonas, and then sit and read him a story over his evening feed. After cuddles I would sing him the same song every night before finally putting him in his moses basket. If you're not bathing you're baby every night, just miss out this step but follow through with all the others.
It's never too early for stories Reading bedtime stories is something many parents do with toddlers but slightly more rare with newborn babies. We used to read Jonas a Bible story every night from the time he was about 4 weeks old. This formed part of his important bedtime routine. Allowing your baby to hear the sound of your voice while gently reading a story is comforting in itself. We read children's Bible stories as there is power in simply reading God's word to our children.
Change them into bedtime pyjamas If you've recently changed your little one's sleep suit in the day you might not think about getting them changed at 7pm. But changing their nappy and getting them into a fresh sleep suit will encourage them to pick up on those bedtime signals that you are trying to establish.
Once you have put the above in place you have made an important first step. Establishing a bedtime routine will massively help your little one understand what's expected by using those signals to remind them it's nearly sleepy time. It will also help you getting back to your normal routine and having that all important evening alone with your partner.
The next steps however are equally as important and will be vital in getting to that monumental moment of them sleeping through the night. I'll be posting again this Thursday with Part 2 of this series. Why not subscribe here so that the post is emailed directly to you.
If you think this post might help friends who are in those early months of motherhood, share it using the buttons below.