The old saying goes, “sleep like a baby” … but as parents, we know that babies don’t always sleep soundly. And some nights it seems like they aren’t sleeping at all. So what’s the issue? They’re babies. They’re dependent on others and the best way for them to communicate anything is by crying. And by helping them learn good sleeping habits, ultimately we’re helping ourselves as well. I’m sure we’ve all gone through the all-nighter with our crying baby and it’s certainly not something I will willingly volunteer for. But it’s also something that we do because they’re babies and we’re parents. It kind of comes with the job.
One of the main reasons it’s important to establish good sleeping habits for your baby is to help yourself. I know that I always feel better after a decent night of sleep. But the main problem? Getting my restless 18 month old to settle down as well.
And yes, maybe it’s our fault for not establishing good sleeping habits or a good sleeping routine for her to begin with.
At six months of age, she was sleeping through the night. But then teething started and she wanted to nurse through the night… and we were screwed.
I should add that yes, we do bed share. We’ll talk about that another time.
So how do you help your baby establish good sleeping habits?
Routine is key. Start a nap-time schedule. Squeaker takes two naps during the day, each one hour in duration. She has one mid-morning nap and one mid-afternoon nap. Some babies might need more naps for shorter duration or only one nap for a longer duration.
Some babies might decide that they just don’t need to nap. The key with those babies is to encourage them and calm them down.
Another key for establishing good sleeping habits for nap-time and nighttime? A calm and soothing environment.
When babies are younger, you can try swaddling or a sleep sack. Some babies will like this because they feel secure and some babies won’t because they feel constricted.
And as tempting as it may be to try and get everything done while they nap, in the early months, don’t feel guilty about taking a nap while they nap. You need your energy too, after all.
But what are some reasons that your baby won’t sleep?
It really could be any number of reasons. They might be hungry, they might have gas, it could be colic, they might be too warm or too hot.
Unfortunately they have no way to communicate this to us, so trying to figure out what’s bothering baby is a constant guessing game. But, the good news is that over time you’ll learn to recognize your baby’s cries.
Some babies might be overtired so it’s also good to recognize cues.
Yawning is one of the more obvious, but sometimes later cues of a tired baby. Watch for eye rubbing, crankiness, general fussiness, and fist clenching.
As your baby gets older, of course you’ll start recognizing the signs earlier and this will definitely help with establishing a good sleeping routine.
Just remember that all babies are different. Some will start sleeping through the night at a young age and for some, it might take longer. Some might sleep through the night at one point but then stop. Just be patient.
What are your tips for making sure that your baby is sleeping enough?