As mothers, we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. We search to find the balance between our families, home, work and friends. We care so much about fulfilling all of these responsibilities that we sometimes just need some extra support.
Through my work as a Certified Child Sleep Consultant I empower moms by giving them the confidence, tools and support to help their families establish healthy habits. I teach mothers how to solve sleep problems, which not only benefits the whole family but also creates a stable, calm and secure household. Knowing that her children are well-rested and able to learn and grow transcends to a mother’s overall desire to be the wife, mother, employee and friend to all those for whom she cares so deeply.
How do I get my baby to sleep through the night?
This is by far the most popular question asked of Sleep Consultants, and with good reason as it is one of the most exciting milestones we look forward to as parents.
Although it is unrealistic to expect this of a newborn, a baby over 4 months old, and at a healthy weight, with no underlying health issues has the ability to sleep through the night. The following steps can be used at any age, to set the foundation for a good night sleep:
Establish an Age Appropriate Sleep Schedule. Babies have a biological need to sleep at certain times of the day, and it is at these times that they have the most restorative and restful sleep. Encouraging sleep at these times makes it easier for them to learn, play and even sleep better at night. Early bedtimes are essential for setting that healthy sleep schedule and ensuring they get a proper night’s sleep.
Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine. A soothing routine prior to bedtime has an immense effect on the quality of sleep your baby will get at night. This should be a calming, positive experience for both you and your child. It can include a warm bath, massage, story, songs, nursing or rocking. Your child is never too young to enjoy and reap the benefits of this routine as it cues your baby that sleep is approaching. A variation of this routine should also be performed at nap time.
Ready the Environment for Sleep. Take a look at your baby’s sleep environment. It should be cool and quiet at all sleep times, including day-time naps. Dark rooms are essential to the body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which gently eases your baby into slumber. Black-out curtains are a must-have investment for good-quality sleep.
Follow Safe Sleep Guidelines. Safe-sleeping practices for babies 0-12 months (as outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics) should always be followed:
Back- babies should always be placed on their backs to sleep
Alone- babies should have their own sleep area
Be near- babies can be near their parents (in their own bassinet, play pen, or crib)
Immunizations- evidence suggests immunizations can protect against SIDS
Environment- room temperature should be cool and comfortable to avoid overheating
Safe sleep surface- firm sleep surface with fitted sheet, free of soft objects and loose bedding.
Eliminate Sleep Crutches. A baby that is used to being nursed or rocked to sleep is using that action as a sleep crutch. A sleep crutch is anything the baby needs in order to fall asleep. We want to avoid this and teach self-soothing skills. This can be done at an early age by putting your baby down drowsy but awake in order for your baby to practice these skills. These self-soothing skills can also be taught after infancy by using a sleep-training method that respects your family’s parenting style.
Consistently following these steps will encourage your baby to learn the skill of independent sleep. Your child will view sleep as a positive experience, as will you and your family.