Are you running on your last bit of energy due to your baby’s chaotic sleep schedule? If not, now is the time to get baby on a more regular schedule so you can restore your energy again. Most parents struggle with scheduling issues at some point in the first two years of a child’s life, and the resulting lack of sleep can lead to emotional and physical problems due to sleep deprivation.
The bad news is that you aren’t alone. The good news is that there are many strategies that you can use to get your baby on a sleep schedule that is beneficial for everyone in your family.
Top 10 Tips for Creating a Baby Sleep Schedule
1. Determine the schedule that you would like to keep and follow it consistently. This assumes that your baby is at least a month old, so they aren’t in that newborn stage where they constantly need to feed and aren’t aware of their surroundings. Sit down and write out a schedule that meets the needs of every member of the family, keeping in mind the average length of time that your baby goes between feedings. You will need to remain flexible because your baby may need to feed at different times or more frequently some days, but remain consistent with that schedule as much as possible.
Routine is a powerful tool when trying to get a baby on a sleep schedule. If you want your baby to stick to a schedule, you will need to do so as well.
Related Article > Baby Sleep Problems? 20 Mistakes Parents Make to Ruin Their Baby’s Sleep
2. If you find it too challenging to stick to a full-day consistent schedule, at least stick to the same times for waking up, naptime and bedtime. If you decide that 8 am is morning, get up at that time every day and wake your baby for a feeding and diaper change. Between designated sleep times, do your best to keep your baby awake. Keep in mind that many babies need more than one naptime during the day. You don’t want to go in the direction of an overtired baby because that just makes it worse.
3. If you have a nanny, babysitter or daycare, make sure that your caregivers aren’t allowing your baby to sleep too much during the day. Discuss naptimes and ask them to wake your baby up every few hours to feed if they are sleeping all day. Every member of your care team should know that you’re trying to get your baby on a schedule.
4. Make it easy for your baby to distinguish awake time from sleep time from the surrounding environment. When you want your baby to calm down and sleep, create a quiet, dark environment with no distractions. During your preferred awake hours, open up the blinds, turn on the radio or television, carry on conversations with your baby and otherwise provide stimulation to keep your baby more alert.
5. Do everything possible to keep your baby alert during daytime feedings. Parents do everything from singing silly songs to tickling feet lightly and placing the baby in an upright feeding position to keep their little eyes open. The goal is to complete full feedings with at least one breast completely emptied each time during the day.
6. Think twice about putting your baby to sleep through breastfeeding. This is a soothing activity that will put many babies right to sleep, but you don’t want your baby to become dependent on the breast as a sleep aid. They may then fall asleep each time you feed, leading to additional problems and a lot of daytime napping.
Related Article > Should Your Breastfeed Your Baby to Sleep?
7. Try the dream feed. If your baby goes to sleep before you hit the sack, wake him in a dark room for a sleepy feeding just before you head to bed. Your baby will remain sleepy and shouldn’t wake up entirely, but you want to get as much milk into their belly as possible. Perhaps a quick diaper change will help as well. Your baby should go right back to sleep, but they now have a full belly and a clean diaper. This can give you more time before they wake back up for the next feeding.
8. Create a dedicated sleep spot. It’s tempting to carry the car seat into the house and gently set it down, hoping the baby will keep sleeping so that you can get a nap yourself. Many parents also use swings and other sleep-inducing tools to grab a cat nap. The problem is that the baby learns to sleep anywhere. If a schedule is your goal, it’s best to have one spot designated for sleep so that your baby learns that it’s time to rest when that environment is introduced.
9. Get the entire family involved. If you have different members of the household sticking to different schedules, you will have more opportunities for naps to be disrupted and distractions to interrupt feedings. Talk to your entire family about respecting the schedule that you want to maintain with the baby. You should also consider the needs of other family members when writing out that schedule. Sometimes it’s like fitting together puzzle pieces to make sure that all schedules align and blend in a harmonious manner.
10. Aim for progress rather than perfection. It takes time for some babies to catch on to a schedule, and simply learning to fall asleep for naptime is challenging for some. Make every effort to remain consistent and give your baby plenty of opportunities to get it right.
Do you know any additional strategies to get a baby on a routine sleep schedule? There are endless strategies that parents have used over the years to keep a baby alert or to get a baby to sleep at the right time. If you have some proven strategies that have worked like a charm for your little ones, share the information to help other parents successfully adopt a schedule that brings peace and joy back into their lives.
- Top Tips to Get a Breastfeeding Baby to Sleep Through the Night
- Breastfeeding a Baby to Sleep: Good or Bad for Babies?
- Common Breastfeeding Problems and Solutions