I have learned while helping to raise a 3-year-old is to develop your baby sleep techniques early.on. Consequently, saving you many nights of sleep deprivation.
And, with every sleep expert offering slightly different advice on the ideal timing and method for sleep training you may be unsure about whom to believe. That is to say, how do you proceed, or which sleep training method you should follow.
So, I’m going to attempt to help you separate sleep facts from sleep fiction. Therefore, by zeroing in on 6 science-based strategies that are proven to promote healthy baby sleep techniques.
Strategy #1 – Learn to Spot Your Child’s Sleep Cues
Like the rest of us, your child has a sleep window of opportunity. In other words, a period when he is tired, but not too tired.
And, if that window closes before you have a chance to tuck your child into bed. Most importantly, his body will start releasing chemicals to fight the fatigue. As a result, it will be much more difficult for you to get him to go to sleep. So, how can you tell if your baby is getting sleepy? It’s not as if your one-month-old can tell you what he needs. Here are some sleep cues that your baby is ready to start winding down for a nap or for bedtime:
The most obvious cue is your baby is calmer and less active. And, you need to act accordingly.
You might notice your baby may be less tuned-in to his surroundings. That is to say, his eyes may be less focused and his eyelids may be drooping.
Your baby may be quieter. To clarify, if your baby tends to babble up a storm during his more social times of the day. Consequently, you may notice that the chatter dwindles off as he starts to get sleepy.
In addition, instead of sucking away vigorously, your baby will tend to nurse more slowly as he gets sleepy. In fact, if he’s sleepy enough, he may even fall asleep mid-meal.
Most importantly, when your baby is very young, you should start his wind-down routine within one to two hours of the time when he first woke up.
One critical element of baby sleep techniques is if you miss his initial sleep cues. Subsequently, you will start to notice signs of overtiredness. For example, fussiness, irritability, and eye-rubbing, simply note how long your baby was up this time. And, then plan to initiate the wind-down routine about 20 minutes earlier the next time he wakes up. (The great thing about parenting a newborn is that you get lots of opportunities to practice picking up on those sleep cues. Like about six or seven times a day!)
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to establishing baby sleep techniques. Therefore, a more rested and more content baby.
Further, if your child becomes overtired, your child is likely to behave in one or more of the following ways.
For example, your child will get a sudden burst of energy at the very time when you think she should be running on empty.
On the other hand, you might start seeing “wired” and hyperactive behavior. Consequently, even if such behavior is totally out of character for your child at other times of the day.
Your toddler or preschooler will become uncooperative or argumentative.
Learning to read your baby’s own unique sleep cues is the first step to a more rested and happier baby.
Strategy #2 – Distinguish between Night and Day
Daylight is one of the mechanisms that regulate our biological cycles.
Being exposed to darkness at night and daylight first thing in the morning regulates the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that keeps our bodies’ internal clock in sync to that we feel sleepy and alert at the appropriate times.
That is to say, by exposing your child to daylight shortly after he wakes up in the morning and keeping his environment brightly lit during his waking hours, you will help cue him to feel sleepy at the right times.
Moreover, he’ll start to associate darkness with sleep time and bright light with wake-up time. In addition, you will find it best to take advantage of sunlight whenever possible.
Studies have shown that exposing your baby to daylight between noon and 4:00 P.M. will increase the odds of your baby getting a good night’s sleep.
Strategy #3 – Falling Asleep on His Own is a Key Baby Sleep Techniques
There are sleep experts that recommend that you put your baby to bed in a sleepy-but-awake state. This should be done whenever possible from the newborn state.so, he can practice some self-soothing behaviors.
Moreover, some others say that there’s no point in even bothering to work on baby sleep techniques. That is to say until your baby reaches that three-to-four month mark. That is to say when your baby’s sleep rhythm begins to mature so that some sleep learning can begin to take place.
Sleep experts claim that the sleep-association clock starts ticking at around six weeks. They claim that this is the point at which your baby begins to really tune into his environment as he’s falling asleep.
So, if your child falls asleep in your arms while rocking him or singing to him. Therefore, he will want you to rock him and sing to him when he wakes up in the middle of the night. To clarify, that is the only way he knows how to fall asleep.
This is because he has developed a baby sleep technique that involves you. To clarify, you have become a walking, talking sleep aid.
Some parents decide that it makes sense to take a middle-of-the-road approach to baby sleep techniques during the early weeks and months of their baby’s life. That is to say, they decide to make getting sleep the priority for themselves and their babies. Therefore, taking advantage of opportunities to start helping their babies to develop healthy sleep habits.
Regardless of when you start paying attention to the types of baby sleep techniques your baby may be developing. Certainly, at some point, you will want to consider whether your baby is starting to associate certain habits or behaviors with the process of falling asleep.
Here’s something important to keep in mind, particularly since we tend to fall into an all-or-nothing trap when we’re dealing with the subject of sleep.
You can reduce the strength of any baby sleep technique by making sure it is only present some time when your baby is falling asleep.
For example, if you nurse your baby to sleep sometime, rock your baby to sleep sometime, and try to put your baby to bed just sometime when he’s sleep but awake, he’ll have a hard time getting hooked on any of his baby sleep techniques.
Sleep experts stress that the feeding-sleep association tends to be particularly powerful. So, you can encourage your baby to fall asleep without always needing to be fed to sleep. Certainly, your baby will have an easier time learning how to soothe himself to sleep as he gets older.
Most babies are ready to start practicing these skills around the three- to the four-month mark.
Strategy #4 Daytime Naps Help Children Sleep Better
Scientific research has shown that babies who nap during the day sleep better and longer at nighttime. Consequently, you might think that skipping babies’ daytime naps might make it easier to get them off to bed in the evening. However, babies typically end up being so overtired that they have a very difficult time settling down at bedtime. And, they don’t sleep particularly well at night.
For instance, rather than sleeping in so that they can catch up on the sleep they didn’t get the day before, they tend to start the next day too early. So, they have a difficult time settling down for their naps, as well.
Simply put, it is important to make your child’s daytime sleep a priority. Likewise, just as you would ensure that he receives nutritious meals and snacks on a regular basis. That is to say, your child needs nutritious sleep snacks during the day in addition to his main nighttime sleep meal in order to be at his very best.
Further, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who nap are generally in a better mood and have an improved attention span as compared to children their age who don’t nap.
Strategy #5 – Know When Your Baby No Longer Needs to Be Fed At Night
Your baby may continue to wake up in the night out of habit even when he’s outgrown the need for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
When your baby is no longer feeding all the time at night, it might be time to eliminate that nighttime feeding and use non-food methods to soothe him back to sleep.
That being said, you will want to encourage him to assume responsibility for soothing himself to sleep. However, the first hurdle is to work on breaking that powerful food baby sleep technique.
With some children, it happens quickly. With other children, it’s a much slower process.
Once you break that association, he may stop waking as often in the night and maybe ready to start working on acquiring some self-soothing skills.
Strategy #6 – Remain as Calm and Relaxed about the Sleep Issue
Try to control your frustration and anger as you deal with your child in the night. As a result, your child will inevitably pick up your vibes, even if you’re trying hard to hide your feelings.
Accepting the fact that some babies take a little longer to learn their baby sleep techniques. And, feeling confident that you can solve your child’s sleep problems will make it easier to cope with the middle-of-the-night sleep interruptions.
Scientific studies have shown that parents who have realistic expectations about parenthood and who feel confident in their own abilities to handle parenting difficulties find it easier to handle sleep challenges.