We are those people you hate, those people with one child that sleeps 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. practically every night. In case you are a new mom who wants to know how we did it, I’m listing all the things we did below in just seven steps. After all, May is Better Sleep Month, and who needs that more than a new mom?
First, though, I need to say that up until about three months old, babies need to be fed every few hours for medical reasons. Breastfed babies also metabolize their meals quicker and wake more often. Infants this young aren’t aware that things still exist outside their vision and cannot relate cause to effect, so there’s no real fear they will “learn bad habits.” Their bodies are changing daily, and their eating habits and schedules change as well.
Sleep deprivation is no joke and can be dangerous for you and baby. The most important priority is always safe sleep.
That being said, while we might not be building a child’s habits that early, we are building our habits. I tried to start with the habits I wanted later on because I know how hard I am to re-train. Here are the tips I picked up from moms and doctors that worked for us:
We go to bed early.
According to sleep health and pediatric experts, keeping kids up late to make them sleep later doesn’t work. Babies have to learn how to sleep and how to go back to sleep. Practice makes perfect in this case.
We have a simple bedtime routine.
We adults all have certain things we need to help us fall asleep — a fan, a blanket, noise, no noise, dark, etc. When we wake up several times per night, we get comfortable and go back to sleep, but we’ve learned to do this. Babies can’t do anything for themselves, but they develop sleep habits too. If they fall asleep being fed, they will need to be fed to go back to sleep. The same rules apply to rocking, being held, etc. Whatever you do to get a baby to sleep, you will probably have to do to get them back asleep, so choose carefully what you’re willing to do. We put our daughter down right before she fell asleep.
We keep the room dark and cool.
Nurseries are pretty in light colors and cozy decor, but we use black out curtains so that dawn and rainy weather don’t readjust a sleep schedule. These curtains also help keep our nursery cool and comfortable.
Now that I have a toddler, I do have to shush the dogs and avoid the doorbell during nap times. But from the day she was born, we’ve been at a normal volume so she learns to sleep through it, and this seems to work.
We follow a pretty regular schedule.
Routine makes routine. I don’t write it down every day; it’s not set in stone. Still, keeping to about the same sleep times daily makes for more regular sleep in most people. Sometimes, our daughter wakes up early and has to sing/talk to herself/cry a bit until it’s time to get up. But just a few days of letting her mood dictate her schedule throws off her sleeping and her attitude. A little routine goes a long way. Plus, consistency and structure can be very good for child development, so don’t feel bad about being a stickler at times to get a good rhythm going.
We do not sleep in the same room as the baby.
I don’t sleep as well in the same room because I wake up at every noise and so does my daughter. For us, sleeping in another room from four months on works. There are safe ways to co-sleep, but be sure to do your research. As long as you are looking into what is safe, do whatever it takes to get your family members the sleep they all NEED.
We are lucky.
Some babies have sleep disorders just like adults. Some babies are colicky. Our next kid probably won’t sleep a wink. If you feel like your child never sleeps no matter what you do, you probably know best. Talk to your doctor about fussiness that might mean gas or diet sensitivities, and about safe sleeping products and methods. Find your own way to sleep! If you have an easy baby like we have, the tips above are some of the most popular out there for getting a full night’s rest.