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Jayne Havens is a certified sleep consultant and the founder of Snooze Fest by Jayne Havens and Center for Pediatric Sleep Management. As a leader in the industry, Jayne advocates for healthy sleep hygiene for children of all ages. Jayne launched her comprehensive sleep consultant certification course so she could train and mentor others to work in this emerging industry.

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Top Five Tips and Tricks for Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits From the Start

Establish Healthy Sleep Habits, Establish Formal Sleep Training

Parents always ask when they should start working on sleep. As a sleep consultant, I believe that it’s never too early to establish healthy sleep habits. Most experts agree that formal sleep training is meant to be implemented after about four months of age. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t lay the foundation earlier with my top five recommendations for establishing healthy sleep habits from the start.

Before you begin your journey into sleep training, it’s important that you assess yourself for any fears or anxiety that you might have around this topic. This will help you keep an open mind to the tips listed below.

5 Tips to Establish Healthy Sleep Habits

As a sleep consultant, it is my duty to help families establish healthy sleep habits. Follow the tips below that I often share with my clients.

1. Establish full feeds

This might not sound related to sleep. However, if you establish full feeds during the day, it will help you establish healthy sleep habits.

Babies eat what they are going to eat in a 24-hour period. If your baby is consuming calories in the middle of the night, they are going to want to drink less during the day. Similarly, if they are not eating enough during the day, they are going to wake hungry at night.

If your baby is bottle-fed, and at least 12lbs, aim for 28-32 ounces of breast milk or formula during the daytime so that your baby will not need to eat in the middle of the night. If you are breastfeeding, this is a little harder to quantify. Establishing full feeds every 2-3 hours during the day will make a big impact and help your baby be able to go longer stretches overnight.

2. Create an “Eat, Play, Sleep” routine

This is simple, yet so important. Establishing an eat, play, and sleep routine is valuable for several reasons. First, this will help you to understand your baby’s cries. If your baby reliably feeds and sleeps on a schedule, and your baby becomes cranky, you’re more likely to know why your baby is upset.

In addition, when you feed your baby upon waking up, this eliminates the “feed to sleep” association. If your baby can fall asleep without being fed, he or she can fall back to sleep in the middle of the night without a feed.

Lastly, this will allow you as the parent to be able to plan your day. It’s important for new parents to be able to get out of the house and socialize with friends and see family. If you know when your baby is going to need to be fed and ready for a nap it’s much easier to plan your day.

3. Crib or bassinet only

Have your baby nap in their bassinet or crib whenever possible. Everyone loves a good baby snuggle. However, if your baby is always being held for naps, they are going to have a hard time sleeping in their crib overnight.

Limit the use of baby carriers, strollers, car seats, etc., unless you are out and about for naps. If you’re home, have the baby nap flat on their back and swaddled just like they do overnight. Practice makes perfect. this will yield great results for sleep overnight.

4. Don’t fear positive sleep associations

Many parents worry that their baby will have too many “sleep crutches” and will only be able to fall asleep if they have these certain levels of support. While this is true and some sleep crutches may need to be broken eventually, some sleep associations are positive and should be implemented early on. White noise and swaddles are perfect sleep associations for newborns.

If you regularly turn on that white noise and swaddle up your baby prior to each nap, they will start to learn that this means nap time or bedtime is coming. It’s also never too early to start a bedtime routine. This will help establish healthy sleep habits.

After your baby is fed and burped, consider reading your baby a story and singing a song or two before bed. These rituals will grow with your child. Not only do they signal that it’s bedtime, but they also provide a bonding opportunity for parents to have a really special moment with their child.

5. Manage your expectations

Manage your own expectations and cut yourself some slack!

Newborns are hard. The first few weeks or even months are exhausting and that is completely normal. Remember that it doesn’t last forever. One day you will look back on those late nights and smile as they will be a distant memory. If you have a bad day, the next day is a new one and a fresh start. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to seek support if you feel like you need it!

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