THIS must be one of the most asked questions in my baby classes, so I thought I would compile my top tips to help you gently encourage sleep and reduce any bedtime anxiety.
Let's start off with your expectations...did you know that the definition of 'sleeping through the night' is actually only 5 hours & even then many babies will struggle to achieve this. So why do we beat ourselves up trying to achieve the magical 12 hours when babies need to wake up frequently to feed - a key element to their survival?
Our socials are full of 'experts' telling us how to get our babies to sleep, which as a new parent can be confusing and overwhelming. Plus when we are sleep deprived, we may be tempted to try things that we may not normally consider. So what can you do to help your baby to sleep:
Teach your baby the difference between day & night - one of the first things you can do is help your baby to understand the difference between night and day as when babies are born, their circadian rhythms do not function in the same as ours. Through the day, you want to expose your baby to lots of broad spectrum daylight and keep the house noisy - so you can hoover & put the washing on! At night, keep the house calm & quiet and to aid the production of melatonin (the hormone what makes us sleepy) ensure the bedroom is dark.
Follow your baby's cues - I see so many parents totally exhausted, battling to get their baby's to sleep in the early evening as that's the time they think bedtime should be, but because baby isn't ready it just brings lots of stress and anxiety to the situation. However it's really normal for newborns to want to sleep much later and then over time bring this forward. Try to identify their sleep cues early on - common ones are staring into space, rubbing their eyes & of course yawning, and then start your sleep routine at this point (see point 3).
Create a consistent routine - now this is not saying you need to have a strict timed routine for your baby (that's another post) but as babies love to know what's coming next, ensure you have a consistent bedtime routine which you follow each night. This will provide your baby with sleep cues and therefore make bedtime easier. A typical bedtime routine may be: giving your baby a bath, followed by baby massage (see point 4), a story, getting them into their PJ's and then finishing with a feed.
Learn baby massage - baby massage has many proven benefits for babies but specifically for sleep, it can help your baby fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Incorporating baby massage into your bedtime routine can be a great way to gently encourage your baby to sleep.
I hope this helps, please do leave your leave your comments below.