It's the word that can divide a Mother's Group. Some swear by it, others recoil in horror. So just what is the deal with baby sleep routines, and is everybody getting it wrong?
Sleep expert Erika Lamour from The Sleep Dept. breaks it down for us.
Us humans are creatures of habit. We tend to sleep on the same side of the bed, go to the same coffee shop and take the same route to work every day. While we may occasionally make a conscious effort to shake things up to avoid falling into a rut, our routines are quite deeply ingrained. So much so that when there’s a drastic change to our daily rituals, we can feel quite disoriented and unsettled. Ever noticed how you can’t get to sleep the first night you’re in a different bed or when your partner isn’t there? It’s no coincidence. Humans thrive on familiarity, especially when it comes to sleep. And your little one is no exception.
Establishing a baby sleep routine is absolutely essential when it comes to getting your bub to fall asleep and stay asleep. While during the day, you want to constantly be introducing new toys and activities to keep your bub’s brain active, consistency is key at bedtime. By putting your baby to bed the same way every day, you’re sending the message that it’s time for them to drift off to the land of nod. Here are some things to consider when it comes to creating a solid baby sleep routine.
Whether it’s putting your bub down for naps during the day or their bigger sleep at night, timing is everything. Newborns don’t have the ability to tell night from day, so establishing a sleep schedule can be helpful in establishing their circadian rhythm. Of course, you don’t have to put them to bed at the exact same time to the minute. Personally, I prefer to base my baby sleep timings off awake times, rather than a strict timing schedule. The amount of naps and their duration depends on the age of your baby.
Objects can be extremely useful in instilling a sense of comfort and familiarity into bedtime for your babe. This could be a toy that you play with before you put them to bed, or a specific blanket they sleep with. When your baby gets a bit older (from about six months onward) you can also put them to bed with a soft comfort toy. Just be mindful of avoiding anything that has attachments that could potentially be a choke hazard.
Creating bedtime rituals can not only help your baby build positive sleep habits, they can also be a great bonding experience between parents and bubs. This could be anything from giving them a bath before bedtime, playing a certain game with them, reading them a book or singing them a lullaby. Just make sure it’s going to be something you can maintain — you don’t want to have to sing them the entire Frozen soundtrack every night until they’re three!
Just like us, babies sleep best when they’re not too cold, not too warm (just like Goldilocks!) and in a quiet, dark surroundings. By ensuring they have these conditions each and every night, you can put them on the path to being a champion sleeper. It’s also best to avoid allowing your bub to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, like in the car or when you’re out and about, as this can create unhelpful sleep associations.
Food is the final piece of the sleep routine puzzle. Feeding your bub at irregular times, too close to bedtime or giving them midnight snacks can work against you when it comes to building strong sleep habits. A good rule of thumb is to allow at least an hour between their last meal and putting them down to sleep. What they eat is equally important, too. .
Kippins are the experts when it comes to nighttime routines and natural, positive sleep associations.
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