How can I teach my baby to sleep through the night?#
1. Follow age-appropriate wake windows.#
The term wake windows refers to the amount of time your little one spends awake between naps. A wake window starts when you pick your baby up out of their crib and ends when you lay them back down in their crib.
Your baby’s awake time during the day can impact the quality and length of their sleep at night. Wake windows that are too short or too long can both cause night wakings. Ensuring your wake window is within the age-appropriate range helps set your nights up for success. Each month, we want to gradually add a bit more awake time to set your baby up for restorative naps and successful nights.
Eventually, there won’t be enough time in the day to simply “add a bit more awake time” without dropping a nap. Wondering if it’s time? Check out these signs and steps for dropping a nap.
2. Allow for active awake time.#
How does your baby spend awake time? Babies are just like us — stimulating our brains and moving our bodies helps us all to sleep better.
Try to fill your baby’s awake time with fun and engaging activities: Play with different toys, get outside, go for a walk, and allow floor time for rolling, sitting, crawling, or pulling up. It doesn’t have to be complicated!
3. Follow a consistent bedtime routine.#
A calming bedtime routine will help your baby wind down for the night. When practiced consistently, it will tell your baby’s brain that it’s time for sleep.
Your routine does not have to be complicated! It can be simple and effective. A bedtime routine may include taking a bath, putting on jammies, feeding, and reading stories. Find what works best for your family.
4. Check for comfort.#
Being physically comfortable helps us all sleep better. This means we aren’t too hot or too cold. Likewise, we need to make sure that your baby is at a comfortable temperature to set them up for the best sleep. Guidelines will tell you that your thermostat should be set at 68-72 degrees, but those are just that — guidelines. We know all homes have varying temperatures, so my real-life mantra when it comes to room temperature is this: Assess, don’t obsess!
Take a look at what you’re wearing to sleep. Are you comfortable? Great! Dress your baby similarly, then assess them! Does their chest and back feel warm, but not hot? Perfect! Too cold or too hot? Add or remove a layer of clothing, and then reassess.
5. Set up a healthy sleep environment.#
Environment can play a huge role in baby sleep. Think about it, you probably wouldn’t get a full night of rest if you were in a bright and stimulating environment.
Here are a few tips to create an environment conducive to sleep:
Make it dark: I mean, really dark. Turn off those night lights, and cover the windows (use code Cara for 10% off). Light can actually stimulate a baby’s brain, and tell them that it’s time to be awake!
Make it cool: But not cold! Science shows that as nighttime approaches, our bodies naturally cool down. With a cool environment, you’re reinforcing your baby’s natural instinct to sleep.
Use a sound machine: Silence is actually unusual to your baby. While growing in the womb, your baby was soothed by the constant “WHOOSH” sound of blood rushing through the placenta. A sound machine (use code CARA20 for 20% off) creates that familiar and comforting sound, while also blocking out extraneous noise.
6. Teach your baby to fall asleep independently.#
If you’re struggling with night wakings, let me ask you something: is your baby falling asleep independently at bedtime? Falling asleep independently is a huge part of achieving consolidated night sleep.
Here’s why: We all wake up multiple times throughout the night as we transition through sleep cycles. We wake up, check our surroundings, and without even knowing we are awake, we go back to sleep if all seems well. But, imagine this scenario: you fell asleep in your bed and woke up a few hours later in your neighbor’s bed — YIKES! You probably wouldn’t simply roll over and fall back to sleep, because waking in a different place than where you fell asleep is alarming. We expect our surroundings to be unchanged when we awaken in the night. It is the same for your baby.
If your little one was initially rocked to sleep in your arms and then placed into bed, they will likely need you to repeat that pattern multiple times during the night. When babies wake in a different place than where they initially fell asleep, guess what they’ll need to go back to sleep? That same rocking that put them to sleep at bedtime!
If your baby is struggling with falling asleep or night wakings, my classes can help you teach your baby to fall asleep independently using developmentally appropriate strategies.
7. Wean night feedings.#
When your little one is waking through the night, you probably want the quickest and easiest way to get back to sleep. For many, the “go-to” solution is night feeding. A quick bottle or breastfeeding seems to do the trick for a while. However, over time more night feedings can lead to a baby that simply isn’t as hungry during the day. This is called “reverse cycling.” Babies learn to snack during the day and rely on their full meals to come through the night. Your baby will continue waking through the night because those caloric needs are not being met during the daytime hours.
The key to ending reverse cycling is to help your baby get most, if not all, of their needed calories during the daytime. In my classes, I’ll teach you how to do just that: be responsive to hunger cues, get needed calories during the daytime, and gently shift feedings from the night in a developmentally appropriate way.
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