When I came home from the hospital with my oldest daughter, Olivia, I was focused on getting her to sleep through the night. I thought the rules didn’t apply to me; my baby would not wake up every two hours, and sleep most of the day and be up all night — not if I had anything to do with it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a champion for sleep, and I’m no good without it.
I remember a friend coming to visit in my first weeks as a mom and looking at the feeding and sleeping schedule I had posted to the fridge. My hot pink Post-it included the times Olivia slept and for how long, as well as when I fed her. My friend laughed and thought I was overly ambitious.
“She won’t get into a schedule for at least the first six months!”
A part of me felt sad and the other part of me told myself to stay focused.
I continued writing down her feeding and sleeping times and soon noticed a pattern. This pattern would help me shift her to a schedule; a schedule that would work for the whole family.
I also read a book. I can’t remember the name, but it had some amazing, if not simple, takeaways:
Differentiating between night and day. Babies, especially newborns, have a habit of sleeping more in the day than at night. This would make any person insane! The key to avoiding this is getting them to know the difference. The author suggests opening blinds and curtains to allow light to shine in to your home when it’s daytime. Daytime is also the time for play, not at night. Engage your baby with playful interaction when she’s not sleeping.
It’s okay to wake up baby. Many parents will advise against waking a sleeping baby, and I agree, up to a certain point. Both of my girls slept through the night (eight consecutive hours) from six weeks. Yes, they set the standard high, and I’m thankful. Once babies are six to 10 weeks old, they should be sleeping a lot more through the night. So, if it’s 6 or 7 pm and your baby has been sleeping for an hour, wake her up. Play with her, bathe her, feed her, and try to keep her up to a more suitable bedtime.
Have a bedtime ritual. Having a bedtime ritual is important for any sleep-training parent. It signals to baby that there is order, and she knows what to expect next, or will slowly learn. At home, our bedtime routine starts at around 8 pm with bath time, baby massage, getting into PJs, and story time. For younger babies, you may want to give a final feeding. This isn’t the time for playing. Instead, show baby that this is quiet time. Between 8:45 and 9 pm, my little ones are usually fast asleep.