5 Tips For an Easier Bedtime
Bedtime at its best means a sweet ending to your day with your baby, and an hour or two for self care or time with your partner before going to sleep. Bedtime with a baby at its worst can be a time of dread and the beginning of a long night of struggle and sleeplessness.
It’s true that some babies are just easier than others. We all know that friend who has a baby who just started sleeping six and eight hour stretches on their own at six weeks. If your experience is nowhere close to that, nothing is inherently wrong with your baby or parenting skills. It’s within the realm of normal. However, if something is “normal,” but your quality of life is suffering, that doesn’t mean you have to just grin and bear it. “Normal” is often flexible and vast in parenting. You need to find yours.
- Once your baby gets past the “disorganized sleep” phase that typically lasts through the first six weeks and you start to notice a schedule emerging in their waking and sleeping, shift feedings and playtime so that you are not feeding your baby to sleep. If that sounds intimidating to you, I understand. Feeding is one of the easiest ways to comfort and soothe. However, feeding your baby to sleep and then putting them down is likely to wake them up and start the process all over.
- Make sure the room is dark. It seems obvious, but if you live in an area with city lights or passing cars, this can make it harder for babies to go down. Invest in the curtains or shades. Chances are, you want to teach them to associate lack of light with sleep.
- If your baby is not rolling over, try a swaddle or sleep sack. As you watch the positions your baby likes to put their arms and hands in as they sleep, you will learn more about what variation or product may serve them best. If your baby is looking for their hands to suck on and waking themselves, a pacifier can be very helpful.
- If your baby has a strong oral fixation even when they are not hungry and your milk supply is established, a pacifier is recommended. Make sure it is the correct size for their age range.
- Contrary to popular belief, feeding your baby a lot more milk, formula, or baby cereal right before bed will not make them sleep better. In fact, giving them a normal feeding of the most nutrient-rich food source possible and then allowing some time for it to digest before laying them on their back can be easier on their little bellies and translate to a more peaceful bedtime transition.