Babies and Sleep

Your baby has reached the wonderful three month mark, and you are finally getting into the swing of family life. But when, oh, when are you going to get some sleep?? In my opinion, twelve weeks onwards is the optimum time to start introducing a routine into your baby’s life.

Lets start with wonderful and elusive sleep! Sleep training requires discipline from you as a parent. If you are happy to go with the flow of erratic sleep patterns, that is absolutely your perogative and of course your child will eventually get into a sleep pattern anyway. However, if you want a degree of certainty around your baby’s sleep, then now is the time to knuckle down and put in a bit of graft!

The results speak for themselves, but achieving these results is tough going, no doubt about it. With this in mind, be sure that you and your partner take it in turns to settle your baby – it should not be the same parent every time. I suggest a four-step approach – create independence; apply consistency; invent sleep signals and finally the 15-minute rule.

1. Create Independence:
Self-soothing is a desirable building block for bringing up an independent and self-led little one. Up until now, you have probably had your baby sleeping in a crib or buggy in the living room during the day. It is now time to move them into a bedroom for daytime naps. Continue to cuddle your baby but put them into their crib before they fall asleep. Then leave them to it!

2. Apply Consistency:
For at least the first three weeks of sleep training, you have to have consistency in the time you are putting your baby to bed – don’t make plans to do things during chosen nap times other than putting baby to sleep. They are doing a lot more kicking and playing these days and are therefore tiring themselves out physically; they’re going to require proper, timed naps. My rule-of-thumb at this age is they should be ready for a sleep around two to two-and-a-half hours after they last woke.

3. Invent Sleep Signals:
Prepare your baby the same way every time you are putting them to bed, be it for the night or just a nap. The choice is yours – it could be a story, a few songs, or a quiet cuddle. Whatever you do, do it the same way each time. Tell them they are going for a nap/sleep every time you put them down. By doing these few things you are creating sleep signals and your baby will learn these, and begin to subconciously prepare themselves for sleep.

4. The 15 Minute Rule:
Transfer them slowly from your arms to crib, do not rush it – tuck them in, make sure they are cosy, have their favourite teddy or soother ready, say goodnight/have a nice nap/see you later, and leave the room. Your baby may gripe or cry a little but they are only giving out – leave them be for 15 minutes; you are not being cruel. If they are still unsettled after 15 minutes, pick them up and cuddle them, reassure them in soft tones, and then put them back down. If they are still unsettled after a second fifteen minutes, restart the entire process. Pick them up, leave the room, bring them back to your living area and start the four step approach again.

As I said earlier, consistency is key. If you maintain and keep up the four-step approach over the course of three weeks, you will have success, and you will also have helped your baby on the first step to being confident and self-led individuals! When you succeed in a good nap routine, peaceful nights’ sleep soon follow; the more settled your baby is during the day, the more settled they will become at night!

Thanks for reading
Aisling

I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Bringing Baby Home :) | BabySteps
  2. Trackback: Newborns and sleep! | BabySteps

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