Baby Sleep Solutions: Establishing a Routine
Your baby doesn't sleep. You don't sleep. The baby sleep problem that plagues parents everywhere.
I thankfully don't struggle with this anymore. I have three little girls under age 8 who sleep through the night six out of seven typical nights. But I've been there and I know not everyone will sleep like me this week or the next, or the next, or the next….
So exactly how do you get a baby to sleep through the night? First, manage your expectations. Every baby is different. Every family is different. So the method that worked for me may not work for you, and vice versa.
And what worked for your first child may not work for a second one either. I hate to break it to you, but just because you've already had one kid doesn't mean that you've got parenting all figured out. EVERY kid is different, even when it comes to sleep.
All this to say -- take things one child at a time and one day at a time. Very few methods will work perfectly right away. They take time and consistency and even some adjustments before they'll work for you and your baby. So, let's get to it. The great baby sleep problem. One solution - a good routine.
Routines can be used for children of all ages. They let both you and your child know what to expect – whether your child is 2 or 12.
For an infant, establishing a daily routine to include set nap times will contribute a great deal towards getting your baby to sleep through the night. Your baby must be taught that short periods of sleep are for daytime and longer periods of sleep are for night time.
For babies, there is more to a successful routine than just naps though. The feed/play/sleep routine suggested in Gary Ezzo's book, On Becoming Babywise, worked very well for us. Feed your child on a fairly regular schedule (NOT demand feeding and NOT strict scheduling either), then have some play time or wake time, then sleep time. Do it all over again in regular intervals depending on your baby's age and his/her feeding needs. This helps establish naps which helps baby to sleep through the night.
The "Babywise" method got each of my babies to sleep through the night before she was 2 months old. It is amazing what a good schedule can do. It worked for us anyway. There is much more to the "Babywise" technique than I can tell you about here, so read the book!
Keep in mind - it is MUCH easier to set a routine and stick to it with a first or only child. Once you have another kid running around on a different nap schedule or going to preschool, you will find yourself sacrificing the schedule just to stay sane. And that's ok!
Whether you have one child or five, stay flexible. If you feel like you MUST stick to your schedule, you're going to be in for a lot of headaches. Just lay some groundwork for how you'd LIKE things to go and take one day at a time. Do the best you can, especially with nap times.
Setting up naptime or bedtime routines or "rituals" can be a tremendous help too. Keep things simple for your sake and your child's. For my youngest (who is now almost 2), we get pjs on, brush her teeth, and then read a book and pray in her rocking chair every night before bed. She knows that when this process starts it's time to settle down.
Develop routines that work for you and your baby. Try setting up your day in a way that leads toward you and baby sleeping through the night. Try giving your baby a routine so that he or she will know it's time to settle down. Both types of routine are great techniques that can get you a bit closer to solving the baby sleep problem in your house!