Sure fire ways to get your baby to sleep…hopefully through the night!
Over the years I have seen too many newborns and babies to count. Maternity photography has been my thing and everyone knows it. One subject that always comes up when my new mommies come to see me is the big question of sleep. Not surprising since most of the first weeks of motherhood is spent sleepless and we all know it sure doesn’t take very many of those to take it’s toll. I don’t know about you but after a few weeks of not getting sleep I am no longer even the same person..it’s so important!
It’s also very important for babies to learn how to go to sleep and stay asleep as developing good sleeping habits will continue into the toddler years and beyond. Creating a system is the best way to make sure that they go to sleep and although in the first years this does (I’m not gonna lie) put a slight crimp into those of you who like to live spontaneous schedules, just suck it up because it will prove later to be the best decision you have as a new mother with regards to sleeping through the night.
First of all, all babies, (yes even yours!) are predictable. Each of them have a set of needs that must be met and if all are met then they will do what you want them to do…in this discussion sleep. They must be fed, warm, not gassy and have a place that is encouraging for sleep. I will address all of these here. When my babies were little I decided exactly when I wanted them to sleep and I scheduled them into those times. Each evening I created a routine and no matter what else I wanted to do during the timeframe of the routine everyday without fail I created that routine. That meant that I could not go out to dinner in the middle of the routine or anything else but after a few weeks both of my children, who by the way have very different temperaments, were sleeping through the night.
After babies reach 14lbs, they are capable of sleeping through a 6 hour stretch. Before that they should be fed on demand round the clock so until they are a few months old this does not apply! Assuming though that your baby is past that weight, first decide what time you want them to go to sleep. Then create a routine that you can manage each day with no variations. Like puppies, and yes I hate to make that analogy but the success of this is in the expectations of rewards that they come to understand are received each day at the same time. So they relate what you are doing with what then is going to happen and your expectations as a new mother.
For me what I did was at 6pm I climbed into a bubble bath with the jets going and in the warm water I both cleaned and nursed my babies. While they were getting clean they were filling up their tummies and getting sleepy. Afterwards they went to their Daddy where he put on their lavender baby oil and Pj’s and then they came back to me for a few minutes in the rocking chair. Then the noise maker went on, lights went dark and they were placed in their beds with the door cracked. Sounds simple? Ain’t nothing about that simple if they are already two years old and have not gotten that routine! That’s why so many parents still are struggling with toddlers refusing to sleep in their own beds. Consequently, the daily napping expectations also require a routine. What I did was very different from the nighttime. During the day both babies were fed and had awake time and then twice a day they were changed, put in a room with full daylight and with all of the noises of the house surrounding them. When they cried I was there immediately. They were picked up and fed and played with and went back down again the same way…but that nighttime routine…once they had their “spa time” and their little lavender massage and went into a dark room filled with white noise; they could cry and no-one was coming for them until the daylight hours. Of course they were on monitors and I am not suggesting if their cries are different or they are sick that this stays in place, but babies figure out very quickly routines and expectations. If you follow a schedule and create a pattern then they will, even the most high strung of temperament fall into place and let you also get the sleep that you must have too to be the best mommy ever!
Alisa Murray is an Internationally known fine art portrait photographer and an Award winning columnist based in Houston, Texas. She has been shooting families for 18 years all over the world. www.alisamurray.com