Adequate sleep is proven to help a child’s cognitive development, emotional balance, behavior and overall health. Fostering healthy sleep habits with your little one right out of the gate will set you up for success! Although we don’t sleep train babies until 4 months from their estimated due date, there are steps you can take to instill a healthy sleep foundation right now.
Steps to foster healthy sleep habits:
- You’ll notice your new baby seems to be more active during the night and sleeping more during the day. The reason for this is day/night confusion. This is because your baby is used to being rocked to sleep during the day in the womb and he was actually awake and kicking while you were sleeping! To help fix this, around Week 2, you can do the following:
- Expose your baby to natural light during the day and make it as dark as possible at night
- Be engaging during daytime feeds, and at night minimize interaction during feeds
- During diaper changes at night make it quick and only use dim light
- Play and interact as much as possible during the day
- Use black out curtains. The darkness will help to naturally stimulate melatonin production in your baby’s brain which will help him reach a deep and restorative sleep.
- Use continuous white noise for all sleep. White noise is very comforting to babies, it replicates the mother’s womb. It also helps to block out background noise in the house.
- Your baby is too young for a formal bedtime, but you can set a simple and consistent bedtime routine that you repeat every night before bed.
- You can practice laying your baby down to sleep “drowsy but awake“ for bedtime, in an effort to not create a feed to sleep or rock to sleep association.
- If you are using a co-sleeper, rock n play or are bed sharing start placing baby down in their crib around 6-8 weeks old during naps to start familiarizing them with their permanent sleeping environment
- Always place your swaddled baby down on his back, without any blankets or stuffed animals.
Using these tips early on will prepare your baby for independent sleep when their sleep cycle matures around 4 months old.
Written by Xan Coffman – Certified Infant & Child Sleep Consultant – Dream Baby Sleep