What if you could take 5 easy steps to teach your baby sleep skills?
Would you love to know how to begin good sleep from the get-go with your baby?
I’ve outlined 5 easy steps to teach your baby sleep skills below for you to take, even from newborn.
This is not sleep training – simply guidance on how to help your baby get the best sleep possible, even in those early weeks and months. Let’s dive in…
Here’s the thing – since babies sleep a lot, it’s a misconception they can do a great job of it as soon as they are born. The truth is babies aren’t born knowing how to fall asleep by themselves very well. When in utero, they get lots of help – a warm and secure environment, lots of swooshing and whooshing white noise to soothe them and the almost constant gentle motion of mum’s movements. So to be laid to sleep in a flat, motionless, quiet cot for sleep is a huge change for them.
From the early weeks, here’s how to easily create good sleep skills for young babies which you can implement from the get-go and will set healthy sleeping habits for life.
Teach baby night and day differences
A newborn will spend about 16 hours out of every 24 sleeping, this will, at first, be spread across day and night and usually feeding every 2 hours. Your baby doesn’t know that they should sleep more at night and less during the day. To help them learn, begin by ensuring your baby has plenty of exposure to natural broad spectrum daylight as well as plenty of darkness within 24 hours as this helps mimic what our bodies naturally learn to do we grow; to be more awake with daylight and more sleepy during the night.
Take your baby out and about during the day for fresh air and daylight.
Keep daytime naps with some light so don’t close blinds or curtains.
Have some light noise and ensure night time is kept as dark and quiet as possible. This will help set their natural body clock.
The sleep hormone melatonin isn’t something they are born with, it takes several months to be produced so by about 12 weeks their sleep can start to feel a little more organised!
Don’t create a milk to sleep association
In the early weeks, baby falling asleep on the breast or bottle is quite likely to happen. This is ok! What I do suggest is to just be aware of it so it doesn’t become the only way they fall asleep. Gradually, as the weeks progress, try to have a little quiet time (perhaps giving them a cuddle & sing them a little lullaby) after the last feed and before bed. This can help with any digestion issues too.
Catch those sleep cues
An overtired baby will need a lot more help to settle to sleep so try to catch their sleep cues before it’s too late. Early signs can be:
Not responding to stimulation anymore, seeming quiet and still. This is a good time to get them to bed.
Crying. By this point, they may well be overtired so be aware of what your babies cues are and catch them when you can! Watch this great video for baby sleep cues.
Put them to bed sleepy not asleep
Be gentle and patient with this. Of course, it’s delightful to rock and cuddle baby to sleep when they are tiny. While I’m not saying don’t do this, I am suggesting being mindful to not do this every night. Try to encourage putting them to bed sleepy but not asleep. As they grow, the more they are able to self-soothe themselves to sleep, the more they can resettle in the night and wake for feeds rather than simply needing that rocking/cuddling to get back to sleep. By about 6 months, as long as they are in good health, they should be usually able to drop night feeds.
Starting a bedtime routine is such a simple yet effective way of teaching baby that now it’s time for sleep. I recommend an evening bedtime routine should take no longer than 30 minutes. Include a little warm bath, low lights (dimmed if possible), a gentle massage and quietly change into bedtime clothes. Try, as much as possible, to repeat the same rituals in the same order each night. Having a sleep cue such as ‘it’s sleepy time’ for every sleep can help create a positive sleep association too.
Once you’ve gotten through their first 12 weeks, you might find it helpful to keep a sleep diary to see how much sleep they are now getting. You should see a pattern emerge of less daytime sleep and more nighttime sleep as they grow. And remember that I always suggest families follow the Lullaby Trust guidelines for safe sleep.
I hope you’ve found this ‘5 Easy Steps to Teach your Baby Sleep Skills‘ post helpful. Any questions or if you do need sleep support and guidance and feel a private consultation would be a good fit for you and your family, get in touch via my website The Little Sleep Coach I’d love to hear how I can help your family!
In this together
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