I believe that sleep is one of the most important factors in creating a happy and thriving child. Research has proven that children who sleep well have a better attention span, patience, memory, behavior, learning ability, and physical and mental health.
Establishing good sleep patterns in the first year is one of the best life skills you can provide for your baby. You'll also enjoy your parenting journey more and have a happy, content baby!
How do you make sure they get a good night's sleep?
A safe space to sleep is of the utmost importance. Make sure there are no toys or teddy bears in your baby's crib or sleep basket. Always put your baby to sleep on their back, put their feet under the bed so they can't squirm under any covers, and remember to tuck a cable knit blanket under the mattress so they don't get loose.
Having a relaxed routine means your baby gets plenty of sleep, plenty of food, and lots of cuddle time - so you can plan your day and get out to see people. The routine isn't rigid and doesn't tie you to the house or limit the number of cuddles you can have with your baby. Without a proper routine, babies can easily develop bad habits, and parents can easily become overwhelmed with endless sleep and feeding routines.
Good sleep patterns have huge benefits for everyone, and getting into a good routine from day one will encourage this. I want everyone to enjoy their children, and sleep-deprived parents don't enjoy their first year as much as they should. Whether breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, I start each newborn on a routine of every three hours. Your baby will nurse eight times every 24 hours, wake up for about 1.5 hours, and then sleep for 1.5 hours, day and night.
To make sure your baby maintains high blood sugar levels, gains weight, and starts eating, set an alarm clock and wake them up every three hours on a cycle if you haven't already.
In the first few weeks, by waking your baby to eat, they will learn that they don't need to cry for food. This really helps when your baby is able to sleep longer throughout the night because they will relax and fall into a deep sleep because they know you won't make them too hungry! Another reason to wake your baby up is that they are naturally nocturnal - so we have to make sure they have enough awake time during the day so they don't wake up throughout the night!
If your routine doesn't go exactly as planned, don't worry. Babies are not robots, so sometimes they get hungry a little earlier or want to go to bed a little earlier. However, if you have a routine to follow, you can let them sleep in a little longer or let them sleep for a few more minutes, and then you'll be back on track.
My golden rules for making sure your baby sleeps well.
1 Your baby's nights will mirror their days. Follow some routines so your baby doesn't sleep all day and then party all nigh
2 Fresh air. I like to let my babies nap outside of their stroller and I find that the fresh air each day really helps them sleep better.
3 Consistent bedtime. Giving your baby a bath at night before feeding helps them to increase their appetite and enjoy some stimulating waking hours before bedtime.
4 Don't overexert them. Babies have a stress response to fatigue. Their brains think there must be a reason they need to stay awake and therefore release the hormone cortisol, which has a stimulating arousal effect. This makes it harder for infants to fall asleep, leading to sleepless nights and tricky naptime.
5 Eat a full tummy! Babies sleep better when they have a full tummy, so focus on feeding throughout the day.
6 Put your baby down when they are awake. This ensures that they know where they are when they stir during the lighter sleep cycles. If they fall asleep on you and then fall back asleep, they will panic and wake up crying when they realize they are in a different place.
If it doesn't always go according to plan, don't worry!
While everyone has their own choices, I discourage co-sleeping with infants. I think it's dangerous, especially if you're sleep-deprived and exhausted in the first few months. Babies will sleep better if they have their own undisturbed space from the beginning.
Remember to treat your baby fairly. I found it difficult when I was asked to sleep train young children who had been allowed to sleep in their parents' bed from birth because they were now older and taking up too much space, or had a new baby on the way. That's what your child knows, and it can be traumatic to separate them from your bed when they're not doing anything wrong. It's hard for them to understand why it was fine before, but not anymore. It is far better to let your baby sleep in their own bed every night. That way, their bed is a good place to be, not a punishment.
So, picking a soft toddler sheet set is very necessary, they make your baby sleep better and no outside factors should interfere with your baby's sleep!