Babies do not know the difference between day and night. Yes while in the womb a baby can sense light during the day and darkness at night, but they do not know that light means awake and dark means night. As a new mom you yearn to teach your baby the difference, so that you can get some shut eye. Here is a guide to creating a routine so that your baby know the difference between day and night.
During the day.
Most moms will tell you that to make sure baby sleeps at night you must keep them awake during the day, meaning short or no nap times. This is not true. Babies need to take a nap during the day so they will not become overly tired. Overly tired babies have trouble going to sleep, even if you kept them up all day, they will stay up all night. Babies between the ages of 3 to 9 months need to take about 3 naps a day for about 3 to 2.5 hours. Babies who take naps during the day sleep better and LONGER during the night. To help you child understand the difference between a short nap and long nighttime sleep create an environment that is conducive to nap.
Day time naps should:
- Take place in a room that is not dark. Let in a little sunshine open the blinds.
- Do not tiptoe around. Babies need to learn how to sleep through noise and that during the day the house is noisier.
- Set a time for nap time and make sure your baby takes a nap the same time everyday. Sometimes this is difficult, but children need the comfort and the security of knowing what will happen next in their day. Adhering to a specific time everyday for naptime will ensure that they are getting the rest they need during the day to sleep well at night.
- Playtime is key. Playing with your baby during the day will help to tire them out. Make sure you make the most of the time that you are spending together, read books, do tummy time, play in a bouncer or on a playmat or sing songs. Make sure that playtime is active.
- DO NOT WAKE BABY UP FROM THEIR NAP. Your baby may take three 2 hour naps during the day, that does not mean they are not going to sleep at night. Let your baby rest and you take advantage of nap time. Take a shower or eat, or clean the house or just enjoy your moment of silence…
Nighttime sleep routines are about conditioning and training. You want your child to sleep longer at night so you have to create a routine; nighttime rituals, that will help them to see the difference between night and day sleeping. Babies from 4 to 12 months need between 9 to 12 hours of sleep every day. Younger babies will wake up during the night for night time feedings, but after they are fed will go back to sleep.
- Begin nighttime rituals such as taking a bath before bedtime. A warm bath will help your child relax before bedtime.
- Another night time ritual is the bedtime feed. Give your baby a bottle, or nurse before they go to sleep. A full belly will help them sleep. (This does not mean adding cereal to a babies bottle, only add cereal when your child is ready)
- Create a dark environment. Close the blinds and turn off the lights. Turn on a night light or a small lamp to provide a small amount of light for the room.
- Turn on some white noise such as beach sounds. There are night lights that play music and give light to the room. We use this one:
- Set a time and stick with it. Your baby will begin to show you what time they are ready for bed. If the time is too late for you then gradually begin your night time rituals early until bedtime is at a time that you want.
- DO NOT GIVE UP!!! When I frist tried establishing night time routines with Baby Jack he would look at me and start talking. I tried rocking, feedings, giving him a pacifier, and he would not go to sleep! So I gave up and would go sit in the living room with my husband until he passed out. And then he would wake up 30 minutes later ready to go again. Now when we begin our night time ritual I stick to it. I stay in the room, feed and rock him until he goes to sleep. If he wakes up a few minutes later we stay in the room, and I rock him again or sometimes I nurse and then he sleeps from about 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. He wakes up at 2:00 am I nurse and then he immediately goes back to sleep until about 8:00 am. I do not leave the room for night time feedings. I sit in his room and nurse, and he usually falls asleep while nursing, I am not wake longer then 15 minutes and then I am back to sleep.
- Pacifier. I have mixed feelings on pacifiers. We do use one with Baby Jack. I do not like that when if falls out sometimes he will wake up searching for it. I feel like its a crutch but it does help to soothe him and helps him fall asleep.
I successfully put these strategies into place and Baby Jack started sleeping through the night at about 5 weeks old. He is a breast fed baby so I think that is phenomenal! The most important thing to remember about getting your child to sleep is CREATING A ROUTINES. Children need them and they keeps adults sane! Establish a day and night routine and then stick to and your baby will begin to sleep through the night in no time!