Ah, sleep. It’s a beautiful thing isn’t it? But for parents with babies or young toddlers, those restful hours during the night can come few and far between.
Maybe your new bundle just arrived, or maybe your toddler is heading into the “terrible twos” phase. No matter the stage, we understand that it can be a challenge to get a baby to fall asleep, let alone stay asleep. And a restless baby plus parents on the brink of exhaustion is a scenario most would very much like to avoid.
To help, here are our top five tips for establishing good sleep patterns with your baby.
Introduce your baby to the crib early and often
After baby is brought home, and as soon as you feel comfortable, try acclimating your newborn to their bassinet. Your baby will probably live on you for the first few weeks – with all the snuggles and newfound love – but putting them down in their bassinet for even a few minutes each day can help a baby start to feel secure in their own space. It may take anything from a few months to two years to persuade your little one to sleep through the night in their own bed – be it in a bassinet for newborns, a crib for toddlers, or a ‘big-girl’ or ‘big-boy’ bed when the time comes – but the earlier you introduce the idea of these sleeping arrangements, the easier it will be to make the transition to full time (minus the occasional scary dream, but that’s a different story).
Offer comfort through a security blanket
As adults, there are certain things we tend to associate with sleep, maybe more bedtime routines than anything – putting on a face moisturizer we love or having a cup of nighttime tea as we read for a bit. For little ones, establishing that routine looks a little different – and often involves something soft and cuddly. From an early age, you can introduce a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, something that's always there when your baby is getting ready to nap or go to sleep for the night. Over time, and maybe surprisingly fast, your child will begin to associate that toy or blanket with sleep. A word to the wise: whatever form this sleep-inducing comfort comes in, buy backups – many backups.
Keep the nursery dark and calm
You may already be using them yourself, but blackout blinds or curtains can play a big role in helping your baby sleep, too, even when the your little one’s bedtime comes before the sun goes to sleep. Look for curtains that have a thick, light-absorbing material as the backing to drown out light from the sun, the moon, street lamps or those pesky late-night headlights. And if you’re worried about creating a cave-like atmosphere during the waking hours, just make sure to hang a sheer layer behind the blackout shades and let the light in when naptime is over.
Incorporate gentle, soothing noises
We’ve mentioned them before and we will mention them again – white noise machines are a new parent’s best friend. Keeping them at a safe distance from baby’s crib, white noise machines or noise-generating toys can soothe your little one to sleep with sounds like a recording of your own heartbeat, gentle rain or soft instrumental lullabies. Those that give off a soothing glow can add an extra layer of comfort. Don’t have a toy or machine handy? Just launch your favorite music streaming app and search for soothing playlists that will help sing baby to sleep.
Establish a routine and (try to) stick to it
Every family is different – and with that comes different ideas of parenthood that work for each them. But one element of helping babies sleep is pretty universal – establishing a sleep routine and schedule and trying to stick with it as often as possible. This means helping your little one get ready for bed with the same pre-bedtime routine. Maybe that’s a warm bath, getting into soft pj’s, reading a bedtime story, and then getting tucked in around the same time each evening. And this isn’t just great for bedtime – it’s also nice to establish a routine for an afternoon nap. By introducing a routine once baby can begin to understand, your child will likely grow to get used to and appreciate the routine – welcoming sleep both day and night.
There will always be bumps along the road, but getting regular and restorative sleep will be part of your life again. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix of strategies that work for your baby. And remember, what works for your first born may not work for the next little bundle. So, be patient and try a combination of tips. Is there a tip or trick you swear by that we didn’t cover here? Let us know!
Please note that the information provided is not intended to be a recommendation. It is for general information, but where required or depending on your personal circumstances, you should always seek professional guidance.