Guide to laying the Sleep Foundation for your child
The new bundle of joy has arrived, all that you prepped for while you were pregnant has to be used. Everyone at the prenatal class speaks about the fact that ‘children love routines’, you are advised to feed every 2 -3 hours, swaddle, blankets etc. Everything is covered, except SLEEP.
It’s surprising how no one in those prenatal classes or pregnancy books mentions how to go about laying the right foundation for your baby’s sleep.
Here is a quick guide to help to start moving towards getting your sleep back
1. Desired Awake Time /Awake Windows
The number of minutes or hours your baby is awake between naps and bedtime is one of the first foundation stones in your routine. These windows vary with age for the child , refer to the chart below for age wise awake windows
Awake windows by age
0-3 months 30 – 90 minutes
4-6 months 1.5 hours – 2.5 hours
7-13 months 2.5 hours – 3.5 hours
13-18 months 3 – 4 hours
18- 24 months 4 -5 hours
24 – 36 months 5-6 hours
2. Day time sleep
If you are looking to get that ‘Sleep through the night’ ensure your baby is getting the age appropriate daytime sleep divided with the required number of naps. Ensure the naps aren’t too close to your bedtime. Too much or too little daytime sleep disrupts your babies night sleep.
Age Day time sleep Naps
0 – 2 months 5.5- 6.5 hours 6 – 7 naps
2 – 3 months 4-5 hours 5 – 6 naps
3 – 6 months 3-4 hours 4 naps
6 – 9 months 2.5 – 3.5 hours 2-3 naps
9 – 18 months 2 – 3 hours 2 naps
18- 24 months 1.5 -2 hours 1 nap
2-3 years 30 mins – 2 hours 0-1 nap
3. Early Bedtime
Sleep begets sleep! Babies are early risers and hence they require an early bedtime. Early bedtimes (before 8:00 PM) for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are essential for optimum wellness in all of these areas. Frequently, moving a bedtime up by 30 minutes can result in a dramatic improvement in sleep.
4. Nap/Bedtime Routine
These routines can be established as soon as you want , babies love predictability & consistency. Always make an easy 2 step routine simple to follow.
5. Set a Start time
YES!! Starting the day at the same time is as important as setting a bedtime every day, even if that means you have to wake the baby up
6. Pause Approach
Don’t run at the first sound or movement of your baby, always wait for at least 1-2 minutes before you attend to your child. There is a chance they might not be fully awake and may be able to fall back to sleep on their own.
7. Put Baby Down Drowsy
Start trying to put the baby down drowsy not asleep around 6-8 weeks after the due date (adjusted age), and start by trying once a day for the 1st nap of the day. Remember we are only trying, there is no pressure here. Once you’re able to successfully put the baby down drowsy and they are putting themselves to sleep for the 1st nap, then move on to the 2nd nap and so on, until we are trying at bedtime.
8. Sleep Associations
When you are struggling with sleep it’s only normal to resort to everything that works to make your baby sleep. Often the night wakings are due to the sleep associations, the baby has, to fall asleep. Even if you are rocking, singing or walking, ensure you stick to one of them, so that with age if you have to work on removing the association it will only be that one thing that you will need to work on.
There you have it, the 8 things I wish I knew to help establish a healthy sleep foundation and the 8 things I think every parent should know about baby’s sleep.