Nearly every client I meet will ask me “But how could I have stopped my baby sleeping badly in the first place?”. The answer is usually very simple, unless your baby has medical issues, there are lots of things you can do from birth to establish good sleep habits.
Your baby is born having been used to darkness, muffled noises and movement to get him to sleep. Did you notice when you were pregnant that your baby was awake more at night, and asleep and not moving so much in the day?
When your baby is born, they don’t have the natural ability to fall asleep on their own. Instead, they need to learn and be taught how to fall asleep. Now this might sound strange, but your baby needs your cues to know how to fall asleep.
Why it’s important to establish good sleep habits early on
One of the most important things you can teach your child is how to sleep properly. By doing this you’ll see so many benefits for your child’s development and temperament – especially later on in your baby’s first year.
During those first special few days and weeks, it’s important to give your baby as much attention and love as you would like to. However, you must also be aware that if you never put your baby down – they will never learn to sleep in their moses basket. This will then create a problem when baby starts to become more wakeful and switched on to what is happening around him.
A baby who has fed well will then settle and sleep well, so if your baby is not settling ask yourself – has he fed well? Is he getting enough milk? If the answer to these questions are yes, he probably does not know how to self settle. It’s a hugely important life skill – so keep trying and help him learn the importance of sleeping well from an early age.
Your baby will also need to learn the difference between day and night, he has just spent 24 hours a day in darkness so now will have no clue as to whether dark is day or dark is night. Establishing a good 12 hourly pattern will help your baby learn that day is light and dark is night.
Ways to help your baby self settle
Chose an evening bath time for baby and once bathed, feed him upstairs in a dimly lit bedroom. This will increase his chances of settling well and shows him that from the evening onwards, it is a quiet and calm time where he will sleep comfortably.
So many parents like to keep baby downstairs with them whilst eating dinner and watching TV, but for baby it is not so great. Can you imagine trying to sleep whilst someone knocks cutlery around a plate right next to your ear, or with a TV lights flashing and noise buzzing directly beside you?
Babies can become over stimulated even just by being in the same room as a television, which will not help when you then go upstairs to settle them. Remember good sleep habits start from the very word go. So, thinking about them before your baby arrives and sticking to them will pay wonders when you have a silently sleeping baby!