Setting up Good Habits

For the first 2-3 months of life, when it comes to you and your baby’s sleep, you gotta do what you do-nursing, rocking, infant swing, etc.  You know the drill.

When your baby gets close to four months of age, its time to stop these old habits.  Now it is important to schedule the infant’s bedtime and nap times.  This allows you to put your baby to sleep before he shows signs of tiredness (cranky-rubbing eyes). Start your wind down routine about 20 minutes earlier than the planed bedtime. 

In addition, it is important to separate the eating experience form the sleeping experience.  Your baby should not require a bottle to fall asleep. 

Also, now is the time to stop those middle of the night feeds.  In the middle of the night when you hear you baby cry…walk, don’t run to your baby’s bedside.  She just might go to sleep without your intervention.  You can also try soothing your baby without offering food.  You baby does not need to eat every time and is just relying on you to help him get back to sleep.  If you are breastfeeding, let Dad try to be the soother. 

Four month old should be able to sleep six hours without needing to eat. 
Five month old can sleep nine hours without needing to eat
Six month old can sleep twelve hours without needing to eat

Here is the SLEEP Plan:

S- Set up a sleep routine: babies and kids thrive on consistency.  Follow the SAME routine at naps and bedtime.  Make it short and sweet.  Example: one book, one song, one minute of rocking, bed.

L- Less is more.  The less you intervene, the more everyone sleeps.  Babies who learn to self-soothe won’t need you to help them fall asleep or go back to sleep after every sleep cycle. 

E- Empower the child.  Babies (by four to six months) are capable of going to sleep, and falling back asleep on their own…if you let them!

E- Earlier bedtime.  Babies who are overtired have more trouble falling asleep.  The earlier they go to bed, the better and longer they sleep.

P- Plan together and stick to it.  Make a plan with your spouse that you BOTH agree to follow.  And then don’t cave at 3am.  If you need to do a sleep “intervention,” start it over a weekend so no one has any excuses.