When your baby sleeps, she becomes more tolerant, happier and engaging. This is the time that you can rest.
But it can be much better if the baby sleeps on a schedule. That way, your day’s patterns will be predictable and you can accomplish much more. On the other hand, your baby will know what to expect at any given time. It will also be easier to leave her with a caretaker as you can provide specific instructions on how to care for the baby.
But how do you get your baby to sleep on a schedule? Here are helpful tips.
When to start
There is controversy over the best time to start putting your baby on a sleep schedule. Some experts suggest between 2 and 4 months while others advocate for 5 or 6 months. You will also come across those suggesting you start at birth or at one week.
Whatever you decide, it is important to keep in mind that babies start to develop a natural sleep rhythm and feeding habits at about four months old. When you see your baby get into predictable patterns, encourage him to follow the schedule.
Start small. Begin by planning the morning nap which happens not long after the baby wakes up. The nap may take only 45 minutes when you start. However, don’t assume the nap is over. You can give your infant a few more minutes to fall back asleep after they wake up from the nap.
Create a favorable atmosphere for sleep
Provide the baby with an environment that encourages sleep. Make sure the baby sleeps in a crib where the room is cool, dark and quiet. You can also have a bedtime routine that prepares her to sleep such as singing or changing the diaper.
Mommyhood101 gives you reviews of various products that your baby will need such as diapers, cribs, baby bottles, and others. These will help you to prepare your little one for their sleep schedule.
Your baby is likely to fall into a sleeping and feeding pattern as time goes by. Keep track of when the baby sleeps, wakes up, poops and eats. When you understand the natural rhythm, you can base the sleep schedule on it.
To help you log the daily routine, you can use apps, a computer spreadsheet or a simple pen and paper.
Rely on timing
Your baby’s sleep schedule will be successful if you employ proper timing. Let your 4 to 6 month old baby have a nap in the morning, another in the afternoon and then late afternoon. By the eighth month, the baby can take two longer naps in the morning and afternoon each going for 1 to 1½ hours. Your infant should be asleep by 6pm, wake up by 7 am and take the first nap by 9 am.
It may take a while before your baby gets used to the sleep schedule. One day she sleeps just fine and the next she doesn’t. However, don’t give up. Just like any other milestone, you will experience progress and setbacks. Remember, babies are different so don’t compare yours with your neighbor’s.
Note, that in as much as you are following a schedule, the needs of the baby should come first. Just because its sleep time, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t comfort a fussy baby. If you think the baby is hungry, don’t withhold food simply because it is not feeding time or he ate an hour ago. Use your instincts to know what the baby needs.