By: Jill Parker
NO matter how much or how little research you have done about your baby’s sleep, you have probably discovered a consistent thread … the importance of a bedtime routine! My advice will be no different. I too believe a bedtime routine is a crucial first step in creating predictability for your baby and teaching her that it’s time to make that transition from day into night.
So, now you are probably thinking, ‘Oh yes, the bedtime routine. Well, we already have one.’ That’s fabulous but, WAIT! There is one mistake that parents make during the bedtime routine that can perpetuate a baby not sleeping well…
Before I share what that is, let’s review your routine. You’ve probably heard that your baby should have a bath to start the routine, so you’re doing a bath. Then you’re going to get jammies on, you’re going to read a book maybe, and then you’re going to do a feeding. You then proceed to feed your baby, either on the breast or with the bottle, to a state of drowsiness or even to sleep….
Ah ha! There…. that’s the snag! The mistake is that somewhere in the routine, your baby drifts off to sleep!
It makes sense to create a calm and relaxing environment for your baby’s sleep. I would encourage you to do that but most people turn off the lights when it’s feed time, get the environment nice and cozy and comfy. That, in turn, cue’s your baby that it is time to start the journey into sleep.
If you nurse or bottle feed your baby to sleep and then transfer them to the crib, you aren’t likely going to have a baby that sleeps through the night. You’re probably going to find half an hour or 45 minutes later they are awake again, and you’ve got to start the process all over again. That is because he has learned to associate feeds with sleep. When he wakes from his next sleep cycle, he will NEED another feed to get back to sleep because that is how he has learned to fall asleep!
If the above describes your routine, here is where you need to do to make your changes.
It’s totally acceptable to feed a baby before bed. In fact, I encourage it, but in order to encourage longer stretches of nighttime sleep, keep the lights on high enough that you can watch, and don’t let your baby’s sleep journey start. The start of the journey looks like doziness, for example heavy blinking, slowly closing the eyes and opening them. So, the new goal is to keep your baby’s eyes open so that she can begin to realize that food is a nice lovely step in the bedtime routine, but it is not for the purpose of sleep. Once your baby understands this, she will be on a path to better sleep!
Jill Parker, is a certified Sleep SenseTM consultant and owner of Little Dreamers Consulting. Jill’s passion is to help families understand the importance of sleep and establish healthy sleep habits so that the whole family is as healthy and happy as can be.
As a mom of two boys, Jill has been there! She understands what it is like to be a sleep-deprived parent of young children, not knowing where to turn to for help, or even if she should! If you are an exhausted and overwhelmed parent of a little one who isn’t sleeping well and you want to make a change to the sleep routines in your home, contact Jill. She has a solution and would love to speak with you. Jill will provide your family a clear, step-by-step plan and the support to successfully guide your child as she develops the necessary skills to sleep well. With your guidance and Jill’s knowledge and expertise, your child will be in the best position possible as he begins the journey to better sleep!