I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard parents tell me, ” I just don’t think he’s ready for sleep training yet”. Or, “I know it’s a bad habit, but it’s working for the time being. I’ll wean him off of it soon.”
Soon, meaning, “In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing things I know are short-term solutions which are going to cause us problems down the road.”
Don’t misunderstand my intentions here. I’m not trying shame anyone for doing what they feel they have to in order to keep the peace in their family, however temporarily. I am just as guilty as anyone of putting band-aids on things in order to hold the fort until I could deal with the bigger issue. How could we ever cope as mothers if we had to deal with every issue the moment it came up?
Tip 1. Darkness.
Light, natural or artificial, sends a message to our brains that it’s daytime, and not time to sleep. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness, so start turning down the lights an hour before you plan to put your baby down. (Especially electronic screens, which emit a blue light that is particularly inimical to baby’s shut-down process.) For babies who wake up early, invest in some blackout blinds.
Tip 2. Turn down the heat.
New parents can be obsessive over their babies comfort and making sure they’re warm enough. While mom and dad are out the room for the night is such a basic instinct that people tend to overdo it. Babies, sleep best when they’re warm and snugly inside of a cool environment. A warm night onesie and a cool nursery, somewhere around (18 C- 21 C) is the best way to ensure that your baby remains comfortable through the night.
Tip 3. Keep it boring.
I know we all love the look of a cute, elegant mobile over the top of our baby’s crib, or the sounds and lights bowls with the light up stars or animals, but even though they may seem soothing to us, they can be a real source of fascination for your little one, which is great! Just not when they’re trying to sleep.
Tip 4. Be predictable.
A well-planned, consistent bedtime routine is conductive to a good night sleep. Once their bodies and brains start to recognize the signals that indicate an upcoming bedtime, they will start preparing to pack it in for the evening as soon as that first step begins. Their energy levels will start to wind down, melatonin production will kick in, and muscles will start to relax, so by the time you’re giving them a goodnight kiss, their system should be all set for a long, restorative sleep.
Teaching your child great sleep skills isn’t a one-night operation. It takes some time, a lot of repetition, and plenty of discipline and diligence on the part of the parents, but for those of you who are desperate for just a little bit of relief, these tips should help you and your little one get a few more hours of shut-eye, starting tonight. You can work on the rest of if you’ve had a little rest.