baby sleep tips that will help you get more sleep
If your baby isn’t sleeping well, chances are you’re talking about it with your family, your friends, your neighbor, maybe even the barista at the coffee shop. When no one is getting the sleep they need, it’s tough, but know that you’re not alone. Just about every household with a new baby, first time parent or not, will struggle with baby sleep at some point during the first year.
In most cases, it’s the same baby sleep issues that are causing sleepless nights and nap strikes during the day. We’re breaking down the most commonly asked baby sleep questions and giving you the solutions you need to help you and your baby get the sleep you need.
5 Common Baby Sleep Questions Answered
Even if you’re not a first-time parent, sleep issues can certainly throw parents for a loop. Start your journey towards better baby sleep by reading the information detailed here.
1. Should I be doing a bedtime routine with my baby and when should I start?
Having a consistent bedtime routine is going to help prepare your baby for sleep and also allows for time to connect with your baby. A great bedtime routine can actually be practiced from day one. You can also start a short naptime routine to help prepare them for some great daytime slumber.
A typical bedtime routine can consist of:
Lowering lights and stimulation
Getting in PJ’s
Kisses and cuddles
Place in crib
2. What time should I be putting my baby to bed?
When your baby is well-rested, they’ll have an easier time falling asleep. Overtired babies will also experience more nightly wakings too. An ideal bedtime for babies between four to 12 months is 5:30-7 pm, depending on how naps go throughout the day. If naps are being worked on and bedtime is too late chances are baby will be too overtired and that can result in more difficulty falling asleep and therefore waking up more throughout the night. Often by making bedtime earlier, babies will have less night wakings and consolidate their 12 hours per night.
3. How can I help my baby take longer naps?
By four to six months, babies will start showing a more predictable pattern of daytime sleep, making it a great time to start developing a nap schedule. Daytime sleep is one of the most important fundamentals in creating healthy sleep at night but is also one of the more challenging sleep issues to iron out.
Aim for a consolidated nap of at least an hour or more. While short naps of 30-45 minutes are common, it’s not enough restorative sleep. With a lot of persistence and consistency, babies can learn how to push through into the next sleep cycle and lengthen their naps.
4. How do I teach my baby to fall asleep on their own?
You have to remember that however your baby falls asleep at bedtime is how they’re going to need to fall asleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. It’s important to teach independent sleep skills so that whenever baby does wake up they don’t need you to help them fall back to sleep. Remove sleep associations, like rocking and nursing to sleep, and put your baby to bed awake. You can choose a sleep training method that works best for your family, and then be consistent if you are hoping for the best results.
5. Why does my baby wake up so early?
Is your baby’s room conducive to sleep? Early morning light can be blacked out, and a white noise machine can come in handy to keep disruptive sounds at bay. The other issue could be that baby isn’t getting enough consolidated sleep during the day or is going to bed too late. Overtired babies will experience restless sleep throughout the night and an earlier wake time. Work on lengthening out naps and possibly move bedtime slightly earlier to help push out those early morning wakings.
Help Your Baby Sleep Well
Many new parents are surprised to find out that some babies aren’t automatically good sleepers. Like any new skill, it may take your little one awhile to develop good sleep habits and find their rhythm. That’s where you come in. If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep patterns, consider taking an intentional approach to help your baby sleep better by creating a positive sleep environment and giving them the opportunity to develop independent sleep skills. It will take consistency and patience, but you’ll be setting your baby up for long term sleep success which means better sleep for the whole family.
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute and is the host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast. She and her husband, Mike, live in Toronto, Canada with their 3 children (1+twins!) You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Macleans, Prevention Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Huffington Post. Alanna strives in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram.