Getting babies on a predictable sleep regime can be a nightmare, especially, for first time parents. As you may know, babies will usually be awake when you want to sleep and without a good sleep schedule for the baby, you may end up suffering sleep deprivation. We shall explore effective baby sleep schedules tips to help your baby sleep during the day and through the night with minimal disruptions.
Tips for an effective baby sleep schedule
The following are some proven baby sleep tips to get the baby to sleep better. Your baby will sleep longer and wake up calm and engaging.
1. Use the eat- wake-sleep cycle to great effect
It simply means that the baby eats when he or she wakes up, they stay awake for a while and then they go back to sleep. There is no better system of managing baby sleep than this. By feeding the baby immediately after waking, full feeding is encouraged and guaranteed since the baby is most alert and energetic after waking up.
It also prevents the baby from linking feeding to sleep if he or she is fed just before being lulled to sleep. That is not to say that you should not or cannot feed a baby right before they sleep. Newborns require feeding in the early weeks for healthy development and growth.
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2. Do not run to a baby’s rescue every time they wake up or cry
It is good practice to take your time before you rush in at the sound of a baby’s cry. Most often, babies are startled to wake or may even cry and be asleep. Many times, they will babble or even cry briefly and fall silent and right back to sleep. Rushing in to the room could easily encourage the development of a bad habit.
3. Put the baby to sleep while drowsy, not totally asleep
Simply put, minimize the chances of the baby falling fully asleep in your arms. Lay the baby in the cot while still half-awake so that he or she learns to fall asleep on his or her own. This is the beginning of sleep independence.
4. Control daytime napping
Many parents would rather not wake a sleeping baby but, if you allow your baby to sleep for long stretches during the day, you can be sure that you will be kept up at night. Allow naps of two hours or two and a half hours and then wake up the baby. Feed them and keep them awake for a little while and then lull them back to sleep. Short naps during the day will help the baby to sleep more at night and allow you sufficient sleep as well.
5. Institute sleep time routines
Babies do well with routine and predictability. Having a routine right before sleep helps the baby’s mind to associate the activities with sleep time and thus make it easier for them to go with the flow.
A pre-sleep routine can come in many shades and must best include dimming the light in the environment to help the baby develop his or her sleep cycle. Additionally, a pre-nap routine during the day may differ with one before sleep at night.
So, it could have activities like singing, closing curtains and dimming the lights and cuddling for a pre-nap and having a bath and massage, feeding etc. for night time. This routine must also be kept short to allow the baby to fall asleep as quickly as possible.
6. Swaddle the baby during sleep
Swaddling the baby helps secure them from the frequent jerking movements caused by a startle reflex they have from birth to about 5 months. This reflex causes them to experience a falling sensation which startles them and causes them to wake up. Keeping the baby wrapped prevents them from jerking awake thus sleeping better and longer.
7. Feed the baby just before you go to bed
Feeding the baby before you tuck in helps to prevent the baby from waking as you drift off to sleep. It is very common for babies to wake you up just as you are getting comfortable in your sleep and if not prevented, can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue for the parent. Feeding just before you go to bed will help the baby sleep for longer and allow you to get some much-deserved rest as well.
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8. Understand the sleeping patterns and habit of a baby
Do not keep the baby awake thinking that it is the best way to get them to sleep; when a baby stays awake for too long, they suffer over-stimulation which will make it make it difficult to stay awake nor fall asleep and make them agitated and fussy.
A baby who is too worn out is likely to sleep for a shorter period, as compared to one who is made to sleep sooner. Generally, the more a baby sleeps, the more they get in the habit of sleeping and will be sleeping for longer periods.
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Babies do well with routine and schedule and nowhere more so than with sleep. The easiest and most effective way to get a baby to sleep well and for you to get sufficient sleep is to institute a predictable sleep schedule for the baby.
The baby sleep schedule tips discussed here are quite easy to implement and can be done anywhere at any time. With a schedule for sleep, the baby is guaranteed better sleep and will be happier and calmer once awake. A baby who does not get enough sleep is prone to agitations and fussiness and is a handful.
Of course, start with the eat-wake-sleep cycle to wean the baby into a sleep regime. Restrain yourself from running to the baby’s room every time you here a cry or movements especially during the hours when you expect the baby to be asleep. Let the baby sleep. Most times a little cry is normal and the baby will fall right back to sleep. A baby who sleeps well guarantees you enough sleeping time and quality sleep.