Right, this is the second part of my Sleeping Baby blog I wrote last week, so go have a check with the first one for my witty introduction and explanation of my personal history of getting babies to sleep that may or may not make you hate me less?!
Moving on to my other tips to get baby, and therefore mum, to sleep consistently through the night…
It is so important that babies learn to self-settle. If I had a penny for every time I have heard, mothers give instructions to make their babies nod off including driving them around in a car seat, pushing them in a pram, rocking swinging or walking.
This is not only exhausting, time-consuming, unsustainable but also creating bad habits! They need to know that they are safe and learn to fall asleep on their own, without rocking or being held or music…but just them in their cot…knowing it’s time to sleep. Now obviously this doesn’t work if you co-sleep with your baby, that’s a whole other kettle of fish and as much I respect those families who do co-sleep, that’s so not for me…or my husband…we still like each other, if you get my drift, and want out kids in their own rooms.
So make sure that when baby goes down for naps and night time, they are awake…this isn’t always possible I know, but try to make a habit of it from day one. This is tricky those first few weeks where everyone, including visiting, well-meaning family and friends, is having and cuddle or hold and rock the little bean to sleep every time you turn around.
I for one would just be honest about what you would like, it is your baby…that you grew and you are the one that gets to spend the night with the little guy…most people will totally understand if you let them know that baby needs to be in the cot at certain times. Once they get used to falling asleep on their own it is smooth sailing.
This does mean that their might be a time of crying though if baby has already gotten into the habit of being rocked or held to sleep. It might seem harsh but they will be better off in the end.
Now this one has worked well for us, but I have known loads of people that have never used a dream feed and succeeded fine with getting their little ones in great healthy sleeping patterns. I have loved using dream feeds with all of mine, partly because it has helped mine sleep through the night as a young baby and it is a lovely way to end my day with a sleepy cuddle with my baby.
It’s simple, I put baby down to sleep at 7pm and then I wake them up and feed them in a dark room (so they are half-asleep) around 9:45-10pm before I go to sleep. This has helped all of mine to make it through with a full little tummy until morning. I do this until they are eating which is around 5-6 months…although I am sure they could do without a dream-feed after four or so months, but I like it when they are little.
The Bed Time Routine:
I think this is a no brainer, but then I have been having babies for the last 14 years, and I don’t think it was so obvious when I had my first. I’m talking about a routine that you consistently do with baby every night so that they get used to it and know what’s to come. Bath, massage with oils (my favourites are Lavender, Gentle Baby or Peace and Calming essential oil blends!) cuddles with book, last bottle, song, and then bed…whatever your favourite routine is, stick to it and make sure its calm…and without any screens or tv for goodness sake!
Less is more with what you use with your baby to get it sleeping. Now I know that many amazing, probably more qualified, mothers out there love their black out blinds and white noise, but it’s never anything that we have used…or our babies have gotten hooked on. You have to remember that anything your baby gets used to; will maybe be something that later you might need to ween them out.
If baby needs complete black out blinds and white noise to sleep, that’s going to be tricky if you travel etc. Our kids are use to sleeping with the odd noise of a house full of a big family and their naps are in day light…but this works well in tents my friends!
Make it a Rule:
Now this one is more for the long term and also one of the more controversial tips, but every weekend we remember why we love it! Starting early with sleeping routines can lead well into clear, no nonsense sleep rules in the house for when the little rug-rats start running around and can escape their cot whenever they like.
We have a simple rule in our house for all kids, including the 5 and 3 year old that no one is aloud up and out of their room until 7am and on the weekends they know that they are only then allowed down stairs to read books, do a puzzle or play quietly until everyone else is awake. We do use a Grow Light with the little ones, who can’t tell time yet. The sun on the clock comes out and it changes colour when it’s time for them to get up, these lights are great and you find them everywhere now.
Our rule is they can look at books quietly in bed or play quietly with Lego or something until Mommy comes and says it’s time to come down etc. Really handing in the summer!
Whatever your family’s expectations for the morning are, just make them a clear rule and stick to it. There is no reason that a 2 year old is waking their parents up at 5:30 each morning on a regular basis…just make it a rule. And I have been there when kids test it and you actually have to inforce it, it isn’t fun, not going to lie.
I remember just sitting reading at the top of the stairs for a number of nights when one of our kids just kept testing and getting out of bed. The consequence can be as simple as a stern reminder of what ‘mommy has said’ and place them back in bed.
It might take a few times, but trust me, it will pay off on those summer mornings you really fancy a sleep in!