Dreaming of a better night’s sleep? Whether you’re dealing with bouts of teething or illness, or just general night-wakings, you might feel as though you’re in a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation.
The good news is, no matter how many “bumps or hurdles” you and your baby encounter on the road to better sleep, there are some tried-and-tested sleep strategies that’ll help to instil good sleep habits.
We asked Petro Thamm from Good Night Baby for her top baby sleep solutions as she spends most of her time coaching parents who are struggling to get their little ones to nap or sleep well at night.
Steer clear of sleep props
And that includes you, mom! Although you can cuddle and hold your baby as much as you like, little one’s also need the chance to develop self-soothing strategies (such as sucking on their fists when they’re tiny) so that they’re able to fall asleep independently and put themselves back to sleep when they wake in the night. If they depend on a sleep prop to fall back to sleep, chances are they’ll need your help every time they wake in the night.
Some examples of sleep props are: nursing or a bottle, pacifier, rocking, bouncing, patting or riding in the car. Soft toys and blankets are OK as they help your little one feel more secure and it’s easier for them to snuggle a toy or blanket all night.
Stick to an early bedtime
No matter how old your baby is, most of the time, little ones get overtired quickly, and when this happens, it’s counterproductive for sleep. An early bedtime is best to ensure your child doesn’t become overtired, making it more difficult for them to settle down and fall asleep.
Based on your baby’s age and the timing of their last nap, you should pick a bedtime somewhere between 6 and 8pm( your baby needs 11-12 hours of consecutive, uninterrupted sleep). Contrary to what some might believe, your baby won’t sleep later if you put her to bed later. Sleep encourages sleep, so the more rested your child is, the longer she’s likely to sleep.
Create a soothing bedtime routine
Night-time routines are a great way to let your child know that sleep is coming and it’s time to transition from day to night. It also helps them wind down from the excitement of the day, so falling asleep becomes easier. Bedtime routines are most effective when they’re about 20 to 30 minutes long, and the majority of it takes place in your child’s bedroom. Some useful evening activities include a bath, massage and cuddling.
Keep your baby awake while feeding
Many sleep experts agree that feeding to sleep is a sure-fire way to create a lasting habit where your little one relies on you to fall asleep. While this might be OK when your baby is under six months, it starts to become a problem later, even when you technically don’t need to feed at night anymore. If you’re feeding your baby in the night, do your best to keep them awake. This will help break the association that sleeping and eating go hand-in-hand.
We know this is easier said than done, especially if you have more than one child and wish to take the path of least resistance when it comes to sleep. However, consistency is probably the most important part of teaching your child the skill of becoming an independent sleeper. Once you choose your method, you need to be consistent 100% of the time. If you give up or change rules every night, you’ll simply frustrate and confuse your little one, and you’ll end up feeling frustrated too. By keeping all sleep situations the same, this sends a clear message about what’s expected of them. However, if your little one is sick and needs you more than normal, it’s OK to do whatever it takes to nurse your child back to full health.