By: Heather Plante, Soothing Angels.
I was recently asked, “What is the most common issue you see in babies who have sleep problems?”
Of course, there are many issues and struggles facing sleepless families but the simple answer is routine and consistency.
Many parents need to develop a calm and relaxing bedtime routine for their little angels.
First, you will want to start with following your angel’s sleepy cues and then take her to her room.
You may need to follow the clock if she is hiding those sleepy cues. Cues can be simple like rubbing her eyes or yawning. Others may be more subtle like repetitive movements, clumsiness, a blank stare, lack of interest in a previous favorite activity, or even hyperactivity. The sleepy cues are an indication that melatonin is present and preparing their little bodies for sleep. Babies will have the most restorative sleep when we follow their body’s natural rhythm.
Next, you will want to have a predictable routine that will create positive associations with sleep.
Go to your baby’s room, turn on a soft lamp, close the blinds, put on her pajamas, and change her diaper. This prepares your angel for transitioning from active play to sleep and the darkness helps with the production of melatonin. The activities that you do during the routine may include: reading books, singing songs, baby yoga, baby massage after a bath, and definitely cuddles. Her bedtime feeding should occur during this routine as well and be early in the routine so it is NOT the last activity to happen before sleep. The length of the routine should be between 20-30 minutes.
Finally, you will always want your baby going into bed drowsy-but-awake.
Learning to sleep is instinctive but learning how to fall asleep independently is a learned skill. Drowsy-but-awake helps to teach her that she can fall asleep on her own. You will then need to encourage her to fall asleep without you doing anything for her to get her there. Anything that you have to do for her or have to be present for so that she can sleep is known as a sleep ‘crutch’ (negative sleep association). Crutches teach little ones that they need you to be able to get back to sleep in the night when they have a partial arousal or period between sleep cycles. A consistent method for soothing her and getting her to fall asleep independently is a MUST. This helps her to learn that you will be there to reassure her and that she can do it on her own.
Your consistent response to any night wake-ups is of utmost importance to teaching her that she can do it without you.
If you respond with a different reaction to every night wake-up then you will teach her intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement strongly enforces the wake-up behavior to continue and she is going to continually wake looking for the one time that you do that one reaction that she considers as her “reward” for waking. The night wake-ups will become earlier and more frequent! Respond with the same method of soothing and reassurance that you are using at bedtime and she will learn predictability.
Predictability and consistency are tools that you should always use and you will see your little angel thrive!
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Want more? Attend our Infant Sleep Workshop!
Lack of sleep affecting you?
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This workshop is designed for families with babies (newborn – 2 years) who are seeking guidance in helping their children learn positive sleep associations and the skill of independent sleep.
You will learn what really does influence sleep (and lack of it), different methods of sleep coaching, good sleep habits and MUCH MORE!
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Date: Wednesday, February 12, 2014, from 6 – 7 PM
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Heather Plante is a certified Maternity and Child Sleep Consultant and the owner of Soothing Angels.
I became passionate about helping other families avoid the heartbreaking cries and the sleepless nights that I had endured for years. It was this passion which led me to become a professional sleep consultant.
I love changing lives and look forward to helping all families who are in need of some sleep! – Heather Plante
This workshop is sponsored by Yo Mama Maternity, Edmonton’s premiere maternity and nursing boutique. Established in March 2007, Yo Mama Maternity is your ultimate one stop shop for comfortable yet stylish fashions and accessories both in store and online. Realizing a void in the market for quality, chic, and fashionable maternity and nursing apparel, owners Schoena and Tara dedicated themselves to creating a desirable and exciting shopping destination for moms to be.