Eight Tips to Improve Your Baby’s Sleep
1. Create a cozy cave for sleep.
Creating a cozy baby “cave” will help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep. The optimal environment is cool, dark, and quiet (or continuous white noise). Dim the lights and slow down activities in the hour preceding bed.
2. Maintain a regular sleep routine.
Babies thrive on routine. A predictable sequence of events is comforting and provides a cue to sleep. You could include massage, diapering and pajamas, a story, a baby yoga pose, prayers and/or a gratitude practice. End the bedtime routine every night with the same “night-night phrase.”
3. Follow the right schedule.
When it comes to baby sleep, finding the right schedule is paramount. When babies get enough daytime sleep at the appropriate times, and bedtime is on target, falling to sleep and staying asleep is much easier. Keeping a baby awake for long periods does not lead to longer periods of sleep. See the enclosed table for age-specific guidance on sleep.
4. Foster positive feelings about the bed.
Your baby must feel comfortable in the sleep space. Spending ample playtime in your baby’s room and sleep space will generate positive associations with the sleep environment (whether it’s a nursery and crib, family bed, etc.).
5. Get fresh air and exercise every day.
Babies need plenty of fresh air, exercise, and active time during the day. Ensure that there is plenty of time for floor play and tummy time as well as fresh air and sunshine. Also, getting outside first thing in the morning will help in setting a strong internal clock, which makes it easier to be alert during wakeful times and sleepy at bedtime.
6. Make sleep a family priority.
A well-rested parent is less stressed and better able to interpret and respond to their child’s needs. This, and the fact that children learn so much through modeling, means that babies tend to sleep better when parents make sleep a household priority. Turn off all devices, close the blinds, and dim the lights in the hour preceding bed. Doing so will transform the entire house a cozy cave for sleep, and aid in melatonin production. This tip will lead to better sleep for parents as well.
7. Check your own stress at the door.
Children absorb your feelings by way of mirror neurons in their brain. If you are feeling anxious or angry, pause, close your eyes, and take 3 very deep breaths. Your calming presence will help to calm your baby.
8. Pause, observe, and practice patience before responding.
Babies wiggle, stretch, whimper, and even open their eyes during sleep. Infants spend more time in REM or active sleep than adults. Regularly intervening too quickly can turn partial awakenings, which we all have, into full-blown, night-waking habits. If you can resist the urge to respond immediately, you'll help your baby learn to sleep for longer periods. Pause, observe, and wait to make sure your baby really needs your help.