5 Ways to Set Up Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Baby | Guest post by Dr. Sarah Mitchell
When your baby is first born it seems like all she does is sleep! This truly is the phase when they “sleep like a baby”. You might be seeing some 6 hour stretches of sleep or longer which really is as good as it gets for most parents.
Around 4 months of age, your child will have a developmental leap called the “4 month sleep regression”. It is real. Your child learns “object permanence” the idea that you exist even though she can’t see you. This manifests as more frequent night waking, shorter stretches of sleep and shorter naps.
There are a few simple steps you can take starting from day 1 that can help you minimize the impact of the 4 month sleep regression and help you get longer stretches of sleep.
- Keep your baby well rested
- “Sleep begets sleep”. The more well rested your baby the easier it will be to fall asleep and then stay asleep. When your baby stays awake too long, it gets harder to him/her to fall asleep and then stay asleep.
- Use the clock
- Babies don’t always naturally fall asleep when they are tired. We have to set them up for success by watching the clock and the cues to get them down for a nap or bedtime on time.
- Most babies 0-3 months can’t stay awake longer than 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. You can download my awake time chart by age here.
- Try putting your baby down awake but calm in the crib for the first nap of the day
- The first nap is usually the easiest to get her to fall asleep for so get her used to falling asleep in the crib without too much assistance
- Learn the Dunstan Baby Language
- This Australian Opera singer has decoded babies cries and can teach you how to read your babies cries so you can meet her/his true needs. The sounds for unger, fatigue, burp, gas and being uncomfortable area all taught.
- Try to feed on wake up rather than put down. When we must always feed our baby to fall asleep we unknowingly create a feeding to sleep association than can be hard to break. Work on feeding your baby when she wakes from sleep and use your other parenting skills and tools to help soothe her to sleep when it’s time.
The most important thing is to enjoy this period with your child. You can’t make any “mistakes”. Any “bad” sleep habits can be changed later on in life. There is nothing wrong with naps in your arms. You can’t “spoil” her. Your baby’s temperament can affect the type of sleeper she becomes and there’s nothing you can do about that. So enjoy this time and the snuggles. They pass too quickly!
Dr. Sarah Mitchell is a chiropractor by training but found her true passion as a sleep consultant, empowering tired parents to get their kids to sleep. Through the years she’s helped hundreds of parents get their mojo back by educating parents about their child’s age appropriate sleep needs and sleep training options. She’s a Canadian gal living in Mountain View, CA with her husband and two kids. You can learn more about how she works with parents at www.helpingbabiessleep.com
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