Have you tried every trick in the book to help your baby sleep through the night? Yep, so did I, essential oils, sleep drops, and baby foot massage. None of them worked. The main reason babies don’t sleep through the night is because they don’t have a strong sleep foundation.
Even if your baby still needs to eat at night you can improve his sleep in-between feedings, and encourage him to go longer in-between wakeups.
A Sleep Environment that is Conducive to Sleep:
I like to compare a baby’s sleep environment to a cave; you want it cool, dark and quiet.
Cool: The temperature in your baby’s room should be between 68° – 72°. Our body cools as we become sleepy, overheating impedes this process.
Dark: Our body clock is controlled by the light and dark cycles of the day. When it is dark our body sends messages to our brain that it is time to sleep. Not only does light tell your baby that it is time to be awake, but it can also be a distraction during the process of falling asleep.
Quiet: I always recommend a white noise machine to drown out household noises. Once white noise is incorporated into your sleep environment it will serve as a cue to sleep for your baby.
A bedtime routine prepares a baby both physically and emotionally for bed. It is not important how long your routine is, rather that it is calming and predictable. No matter what your routine, make sure that it is quality time spent with your baby. Studies show that children whose parents who truly connect with them before bed have an easier time separating at bedtime and sleep better through the night.
An example of a bedtime routine I recommend:
Bath – During a bath, your baby’s body temperature rises. Then as his body cools it will aid in the release of melatonin.
Bottle or Nursing- You can include this as part of your bedtime routine but be sure to allow 20 minutes in-between feeding and sleeping. You don’t want to put your baby down to bed already asleep.
Teeth: Brush your baby’s teeth or wipe his gums if he doesn’t have teeth yet.
Books: My favorite part of our bedtime routine is reading books with my twin girls. We curl up together in our chair with our favorite stories. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t interested in books yet as he gets older his interest will develop.
Say Your Goodnights: I love to use this time to really connect with my children. With my young twins, I rub their bellies for a minute and sing a song. With my older son, we reflect on and talk about our day.
So many parents tell me they keep their baby up late in hopes that he will sleep in. This almost always backfires! A baby who is overtired before bed will start to produce cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Unfortunately, this will affect his sleep the entire night and lead to multiple wake ups and early wakings. For most babies, an appropriate bedtime is between 6:00 -7:30 p.m. Read my article about baby schedules if you are unsure what is a good bedtime for your baby.
Put Your Baby Down Awake:
The most common reason for nighttime wakeups is because your baby doesn’t know how to fall asleep independently. If you put your baby to bed after falling asleep nursing, rocking, or bouncing, then when he wakes in the middle of the night (we all do) he doesn’t know how to put himself back to sleep. By teaching him to fall asleep independently then he will be able to roll over and go back asleep without calling for you!
Give Him Space:
I know how hard it is not to run to your baby the second you hear a peep, but giving him time to fall back asleep may be just what he needs. Babies often work through the process of falling asleep by grunting, fussing or even crying. The next time your baby wakes up try giving him 5 minutes to see if he will work through the process without your help. As Janet Lansbury writes “Being sensitive to the possibility of self-soothing is the beginning of believing in your baby”.
If you need more personalized help please reach out to me!