Create a sleep zone and stick to it.
This may be in her own room, or in your room. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it is a ‘zone’ where sleep happens – she will learn to recognize it as such.
At sleep time, put your baby to bed.
Try to avoid letting her fall asleep where ever you may be at sleep time such as on the couch, in your arms or in the car. Obviously there will be times where your baby will fall asleep out of her bed, but try not to make it the norm.
Watch awake times.
It is the time spent awake between sleeps that drives your babies sleep. This is absolutely vital to ensure healthy sleep habits. Follow the guidelines of “awake times” from Baby Sense and Toddler Sense, and allow your baby to fall asleep then. Don’t wait until she shows signs of over tiredness before trying to put her to sleep.
Put your baby to bed “happily awake”.
Watch for her signals to indicate to you that she is getting tired (not is already tired!) These signals may be a simple sneeze or a hand on her face. Read Baby Sense to get familiar with your baby’s signals.
Modulate the environment to promote sleep.
Switch off loud, jarring music or sounds such as a lawnmower at sleep time. For day sleeps, cut out glare by closing curtains and dim lights at night. If you are out and about, cover the pram with a cotton blanket to block out sunlight and noise.
Remove all stimulation from the immediate sleep zone.
Remove mobiles, toys, activity sets and stimulating bumpers from your baby’s cot to prevent over-stimulation at sleep time. If she is over stimulated, she will be unable to fall asleep easily.
Encourage a sleep comfort or doodoo blanket.
The Baby Sense
Accept that babies don’t sleep like we do!
This acceptance goes a long way towards helping you cope with sleep deprivation in the early days. Expect not much sleep for the first 3 months at least. Have faith though; babies usually start to sleep for longer periods at night from the age of 12 weeks (even earlier if you are lucky!).
Your baby will pick up any anxiety from you, and will be even more unsettled. Try not to get too bogged down in the moment, and focus on the good things about your baby such as her smile or her dimple.
Have a sense of humour.
If all else fails, laugh – after all it is the best medicine around!
By Sr Ann Richardson