I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents tell me, “I just don’t think he’s ready for sleep training yet.” or, “I know it’s a bad habit, but it’s working for the time being. I’ll wean him off of it soon.”
Soon, meaning, “In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing things I know are short-term solutions which are going to cause us problems down the road.”
I am just as guilty as anyone of putting band-aids on things in order to hold down the fort until I can deal with the bigger issue. How could we ever cope as mothers if we had to deal with every issue the moment it came up?
Here are my 4 tips to get you started
1. Hello darkness, my old friend.
Light, natural or artificial, sends a message to our brains that it’s daytime, and not time to sleep. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness, so start turning down the lights an hour before you plan to put baby down (especially electronic screens, which emit a blue light that is particularly disruptive to a baby’s shut-down process).
For babies who wake up early, invest in some blackout blinds. You can get a decent set for under $30, and I’ve had many parents tell me it’s the best money they ever spent.
2. Turn down the heat
New parents can worry over their baby’s comfort and making sure they’re warm enough while Mom and Dad are out of the room for the night. Babies, like their grownup counterparts, sleep best when they’re warm and snuggly inside of a cool environment. A warm nighttime onesie and a cool nursery, somewhere around 65°F and 70°F (18°C – 21°C), is the best way to ensure that baby remains comfortable through the night.
3. Keep it boring
I know we all love the look of a cute, elegant mobile over the top of our baby’s crib, or the sounds of the little faux-aquarium with the plastic light-up fish, but even though they may seem soothing to us, they can be a real source of fascination for your little one, which is great! Just not when they’re trying to sleep.
A white noise machine can help to block out any outside noise that might jar baby into waking up. I recommend them for all of my parents.
4. Be predictable
A well-planned, consistent bedtime routine is conducive to a good nights sleep, no matter what your age, but particularly with babies. Once their bodies and brains start to recognize the signals that indicate an upcoming bedtime, they will start preparing to settle down for the evening as soon as that first step begins. Their energy levels will start to wind down, melatonin production will kick in, and muscles will start to relax, so by the time you’re giving them a goodnight kiss, their system should be all set for a long, restorative sleep.
There is hope!
Teaching your child great sleep skills isn’t a one-night operation. It takes some time, a lot of repetition, and plenty of discipline and diligence on the part of the parents, but for those of you who are desperate for just a little bit of relief, these tips should help you and your little one get a few more hours of shut-eye, starting tonight.
Need a little extra help? I’m here to offer gentle solutions to your child’s sleep difficulties. Let’s chat!
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