One of the earliest (and most difficult) battles you’ll face in parenthood is your baby’s sleep schedule – or lack thereof. You spend the night soothing and re-soothing your baby to sleep and wake up in the morning more tired than ever. Between difficulties putting the baby to sleep and frequent night wakings, it's no wonder you feel like you're barely getting by.
Your baby's sleep schedule is undoubtedly dependent on stage and age. But sleep truly is a skill we must teach babies. It's essential not only for the infant's development but also for the family's sanity. There are many theories surrounding methods to sleep training – but two tips tend to yield desired results for parents.
The first tip is consistency. Developing and maintaining a sleep schedule for your baby can help to promote routine. Determine how you will get them ready for bed: a bath, pajamas, diaper change, a lullaby, or story at the same time each evening. Then, stick to it.
Repetition in bedtime routines will stick with them as they develop. Parents who maintain sleep schedules tend to see their children develop healthy sleep habits as they grow older. And as their children begin to engage with other caregivers, they can repeat the routine to see the same success.
The second tip is to establish some self-sufficiency. It seems so natural and intuitive to help your baby to sleep. You want to hold them to sleep… rock them to sleep… lay them down asleep. The problem with that method is that when your baby wakes throughout the night, they will fuss for you because they don't know how to put themselves back to sleep.
Of course, the first few months will consist of snuggling, feeding, and contact napping. This is essential for newborn development. But as your baby ages, try laying them down awake and letting them put themselves to sleep. Children that engage in this method tend to sleep better throughout the night.
You're not alone in this. Parents all around you are facing the same struggles each night. And you have resources to help guide you to a better night's sleep.
We recently sat down with baby sleep experts Ashley Smith and Kaitlin Shouse with Loullaby Infant Sleep Consulting to discover how they've been helping parents get a better night's sleep by helping their babies get a better night's sleep. See what they had to share on this podcast.