Treat Your Baby’s Sleep The Way You Treat Your Own Sleep
Getting your child to sleep well is not rocket science. It can be as simple as looking at how you treat your own sleep as adults.
As a sleep consultant and a mother of 4, I discovered respectful parenting as the best approach to teach my clients and also to parent my kids. Respectful parenting place a great emphasis on respect for our children, we should perceive and acknowledge them to be unique, separate people.
Good sleep for your baby or toddler is not mission impossible. Nor does it have to involve crying or traditional “sleep training”. Sleep training does not mean letting your baby do the ‘Cry It Out.’ Sometimes improving your child’s sleep is as simple as tweaking your baby’s awake windows, making their room darker or keeping the sleep environment consistent.
Here are 5 steps you can take to foster healthy sleep habits to allow your child to have good sleep just like you do…
1. Watch your baby’s awake time.
Put your child down before he or she is overtired. As adults we can be awake for 16 hours before we start feeling sleepy and tired. How long do you think your newborn can be awake for before they start feeling sleepy and tired? The answer is 45 mins to 1 hour. So if your newborn is awake for longer, then you can be sure to get an overtired and cranky baby who is fussing and crying continuously. As your child gets older, then you can stretch their awake time.
2. Keep the sleep environment consistent
Just like you wouldn’t sleep on the sofa some nights, you shouldn’t change your child’s sleep environment all the time too. Your child needs to recognise that the cot is their sleeping and resting place. If sometimes you lie your child down on your bed and sometimes on the mattress, your child will get confused and would not understand what do you expect him or her to do. However, if you ALWAYS put your child to sleep in her cot, then she would instantly recognise that is her sleeping place.
3. Early bedtime
When the sun goes down, our body produce melatonin to help us get ready to fall asleep. However, in our modern day society, the invention of artificial lights started to inhibit the production of melatonin causing us to be awake for longer than how we are wired biologically. Therefore to give the best start in life for our children, do what our early ancestors did before the invention of electric light, let our child sleep early according to the natural light which is between 7-8pm.
4. Nap length and timing
Just as you wouldn’t want to nap past 6pm as that might affect your night time sleep, the same goes for our babies. We need to help them control the timing and length of their naps so that they can build enough sleep pressure for bedtime. Some babies love to sleep a lot during the day and up all night because they aren’t tired anymore for the night sleep. Helping our babies adjust their naps schedule would set them up for a good night’s sleep as well. Sleep promotes sleep!
When you fall asleep, is there anyone or anything that you rely on to fall asleep? I think most of us would say no. No one is patting us to sleep, no one is there to sing us lullabies to sleep. So the same way for your child, he needs to learn the important skill of self-settling so he can drift off to sleep without your help and resettle back to sleep in between sleep cycles during nap times and night sleep. If your child relies on you to nurse, rock or pat him to sleep, then he will need your assistance again every time he wakes up between his sleep cycles.
To take out the guesswork around your child’s sleep needs and what you can do to improve your child’s sleep, check out my sleep packages and start getting your family and you well rested days and nights again!
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