When you first become a parent, you will probably find yourself googling all things sleep related including: ‘when will my baby sleep through the night’, ‘HOW do I make my baby sleep for longer at night’ and most importantly ‘will I ever sleep again?!’
You’ll be pleased to know, there are lots of things you can do to help your little one drift off to the land of nod. Because not only is it important that your little one sleeps well but also you need that all important time for you.
During the early weeks, having any set form of a routine can be difficult. Newborns sleep a lot. In fact, they sleep on average around 16 hours out of 24. Although, this is split evenly between the day and night, as their sleeping patterns at this age revolve around their tiny tums. Often they will wake for food and fall asleep shortly after being fed (if only we could do that). However, it is down to you to teach your little one about sleep and setting those all important cues in helping to establish their circadian cycle (aka the sleep-wake cycle).
Work with their body clock
Creating a distinct difference between the daytime and nighttime feeds helps your little one establish their body clock.
During your night feeds, ensure the environment is perfect for sleep. Keep the lights low, keep stimulation to a minimum and keep an eye on the room temperature (this should, ideally, be between 16-20 degrees). To check your little one’s temperature, you can feel the back of their neck or their tummy - and it’s always a good idea to have a room thermometer, too.
Daytime feeds should be bright, keeping the hustle and bustle of your home continuing in the background. Don’t feel the need to minimise sounds or tiptoe around, it’s good to get your little one used to different noises.
By establishing these differences between day and night you’re setting the fundamentals and increasing awareness about light and dark. After a couple of weeks, babies are able to start making the connection due to this heightened awareness and maturation of their sleep-wake cycles. And at around 10 weeks, babies can start to tell the difference between day and night. Hurrah!
Create a calming routine
The 3 month milestone is a great time, if you haven’t done so already, to introduce a bedtime routine. The idea of a bedtime routine is to help let your little one recognise when it’s time to go to sleep. Creating a set of positive sleep associations that can be recreated easily is the key in helping your little peanut sleep well at night.
How do you set a bedtime routine? Well, you’ll want to set a time for sleep and carry out the same relaxing sequence at the same time each evening. Be sure to include things you enjoy as this will be part of your daily routine for many years to come. A short bath, massage, bedtime story, lullaby, cuddles, kisses, and a feed are popular choices. Keep it focused, your bedtime routine doesn’t need to be long, 45 minutes is plenty.
It’s important to note that a bedtime routine helps you, too, as when your little one is sleeping, you can use the time for self-care and to do the things you enjoyed pre-baby. I know your life changes in ways you can’t imagine when you become a mama, so I wanted to tell you that it’s totally normal to ‘mourn’ your life before kids, and that you should maximise your alone time to focus on yourself. Basically, stop scrolling through pictures of your little one and throw your favorite show on!
Increase their melatonin
Melatonin (aka the sleep hormone), if I had to pick a favourite, it would be you! This handy hormone is huge when it comes to getting your little peanut to drift off. For example, the hour leading up to bedtime, switch those screens off. The blue light emitted from screens such as TVs, tablets and phones, suppresses melatonin. Try to keep the run up to bedtime calming, and stick to stimulating activities in the daytime.
Having a short, warm bath is key too, as the drop in their body temperature once they get out stimulates the production of melatonin. It can be further helped along by taking your little one into their dimly lit room straight away, too.
Once your little one is ready for bed, don’t be tempted to take them back into the environment they have been playing in during the day. Pop them down to sleep when they’re drowsy but awake and you should see some sleep success!
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