Establishing healthy sleep habits early on in your child’s life will be so beneficial for them. Formal sleep training should wait until around 12-20 weeks, but it doesn’t hurt to start with some foundational practices–this will only make things easier later on. The amount of time that babies sleep throughout the day and night also depends on their age. Here are some things that you can do to start establishing healthy sleep habits with your child.
Creating an eat, play, sleep routine is one of the major keys to success with healthy sleep habits. This will help you and baby get into a rhythm and you will start to be able to understand your baby’s cries. If your baby is used to eating at this time and they’re upset, they’re probably hungry. If they’re bored, you will be able to recognize that. Most importantly, you will be able to notice patterns in your baby’s behavior when they’re tired.
This routine will also help your baby learn to fall asleep without relying on feeding. Once they start falling asleep on their own, they are less likely to wake at night to feed. Your baby will learn that they get to eat after nap time.
Having a routine like this will also allow you to plan your day more efficiently. It is much easier to get out of the house when you are not on an “on-demand” schedule.
Along with feeding after nap times rather than before, try to make sure your baby gets a full feed every time. Bottle-fed infants should get between 28-32 ounces of breastmilk or formula each day. Babies tend to eat every 2-3 hours during the early months and every 3-4 hours as they get older. This will ensure that when it’s time for bed, they are well fed and will not wake up hungry a few hours later.
Establishing a consistent routine is crucial to developing healthy sleep habits with your child. Having your baby sleep in the same place every time, or as much as possible is important. This means putting your child into the crib or bassinet during nap times, as well as at night.
It is also important to implement a solid bedtime routine that you do with your child every night. This will signal to your baby that it is time to settle down for sleep. I recommend the same bedtime routine to every parent. Over time, your baby will associate those cues with bed time.
You should also implement most of the same routine during naps. If your bedtime routine usually includes a bath, you don’t have to do this for naps, but you should be doing the same or similar steps each time.
This should start with a feeding. Baby will be nice and full for a good night’s rest. Then put your baby into a sleep sack, read a book, and sing a song. Then you should, ideally, place your child into the crib or bassinet while calm, relaxed and awake.
Despite all of these routines and guidelines, try to stay calm and flexible. Not every day will be the same and it will take some time to really establish these healthy sleep habits. Plus, parenting is hard enough as it is. This is especially true during the newborn stage. Just remember that it is okay if you have days that are harder than others. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.
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