So you’ve brought your second precious bundle of joy home from the hospital and are overjoyed at being a Mom again! Your first child was a breeze when it came to sleeping patterns, eating, breaking from the bottle, potty training, and most of the milestones babies have in their first couple of years.
But…in the first week of bringing this sweet baby home, you realize that she won’t sleep through the night. In fact, she doesn’t want to sleep at night….at all! You’ve been reduced from a fresh, confident Mommy to an irritable, grouchy, night-dreading bundle of stressed-out, nerves. You’re exhausted and your family isn’t sure what to do about it! But, you can turn this around. After all, you’re supermom!
So, here are some tips that can help turn your insomniac baby into a “sleep through the night” child!
Set a reasonable bed time…and STICK TO IT
Bedtime should be between 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. Children need a lot of sleep to refresh…just like adults! In fact, they need more than we do. It’s best to put baby to bed about 1-2 hours after dinner. Don’t worry that the earlier you put them to bed, the earlier they will wake up. In fact, the opposite is true. If you put them to bed too late, you run the risk of them having more difficulty falling asleep, waking during the night more often, rising earlier, and getting less overall sleep during the night. And, most importantly, be consistent with their bed time because, most of all, a child needs reassurance that her needs are consistently being met and she can count on her parents to provide that confidence.
Make bed time a routine…bath, bottle, cuddling, singing, rocking…and then put baby in bed just before she actually falls asleep. Why, you ask? Because if she is already asleep when you lay her down, she will not learn how to self-soothe themselves to sleep. And, that’s most important in training a child to go to sleep on their own. This especially helps when she wakes in the middle of the night. She can soothe herself back to sleep.
Make your house a soothing, quiet retreat
As you’re going through your routine, turn off the television, turn down the lights, rock her a while, then put her in bed. The quiet and darkness will help to cue your baby’s body to start producing melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid. And, remember that sleeping is a learned skill, and one that you have to teach your baby.
Do not rush into their bedroom at the first whimper
This is another way to allow your child to learn to self-soothe and go back to sleep. If you run into her room the second they start to whimper, you’re not allowing her to learn to fall asleep naturally. So, give it a few minutes once you hear her making noises in bed. She will likely fall back asleep in 10-15 minutes, or less…on her own. And, the more you do this, the less likely she will be to wake up in the middle of the night.
Trust your little one, help her establish her own sleep patterns. But, give her all the advantages to do so. And, don’t worry that you’re neglecting her. She needs to learn, early on, to do some things on her own. And, sleeping is one of them! Once she is sleeping through the night…you can too! And, you’ll be a happy Mommy again…and that’s the best thing you can give your family!