Once your baby starts to have more sleep at night (about 7 weeks old), you can start to teach them to sleep well. At this point, you can observe when your child is sleepy, and put them down to sleep at that time. The first signs of sleepiness are that your child will become quiet, will stop making eye contact, and will no longer be interested in toys. If your baby starts rubbing her eyes or is fussy, then she is getting overtired. Gradually the times that your child naps will become routine, consolidating into two naps after 6 months of age.
Sleep is interesting because it is shaped by both our physiology and our habits. Here are some habits that will help your baby sleep well.
– Have a bedtime routine that is consistent each night, for instance “Bath, bottle, book, bed.” Write this down and post it so everyone who puts the baby to bed can do it the same way. Research shows that after just 3 weeks of a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine, babies fell asleep more quickly, woke less in the night, and return to sleep more easily.
– Put the baby to bed sleepy but still awake, so that he learns to fall asleep by himself.
– Be thoughtful about the sleep environment your child falls asleep in, and make sure it will be the same during night wakenings so he can return to sleep easily. For example, if the room will be dark and quiet in the middle of the night, it should be dark and quiet when he is put to bed at the beginning of the night.
– Decide what strategy you will use in the middle of the night to help the baby return to sleep, and be consistent each time. Again, post this strategy so you can refer to it in the middle of the night when you are tired.
The most important thing to teach your infant is that when she is sleepy she goes to sleep, and the way to help her fall asleep easily is to be consistent with good sleep habits.
You can learn more about Naturopathic Sleep Medicine at www.naturalsleepmedicine.net.