By around 6-8 weeks once the first two months of the newborn phase are almost over and your new baby’s body clock has started to sink in (around 6 weeks), you should try to start forming little routines during the day and especially at bedtime.
Even if you are not a routine oriented person by nature, especially for sensitive children, a sense of routine is crucial in working to establish good sleeping patterns. Babies don’t have the ability to ask for things themselves and by creating a sense of order and allowing them to know what to expect next in their day, this helps them to create a sense of security whilst also reducing anxiety.
A routine doesn’t need to be extra stressful for both you and your baby. Doctors say that routine is healthy because it serves to reduce stress not create more.
Some simple things you can do each day:
- Wake your baby at the same time each day (in the morning)
- Don’t keep them awake too long in the morning before trying to put them down to sleep again (1-1.5hrs). If you are already seeing tired signs, you’ve waited too long. This includes feeding, changing and playing.
- Make a daily attempt at least for the first nap of the day to put your baby to sleep in their bed. Repeating this routine each morning will not only work to create a positive association to their bed, you will teach them their bed is also a place for them to sleep each day. The more consistent you are, the more likely they will understand and accept this as part of their standard routine.
- Watch carefully where you are putting your baby down for naps each day. Quality of sleep will be worse in a car and on the go rather than in your baby’s bed.
- Institute a bedtime routine and make sure it’s something that you can carry out no matter where you are putting your baby down to sleep. ie: sing the same song, pat and comfort your baby the same way. Keep doing this and they will understand this same song means bedtime.
- Try and make your bedtime routine consistent in terms of the rituals that you do each night before bed. Ie: bath, massage, change, feed, small lullaby, bed. These are known are sleep cues and your baby will recognise them as signs that sleep is imminent.
A set routine whereby your baby sleeps at certain points of the day is not really achievable until around 3 months. However, by working on the above steps, you will train yourself slowly how to get your baby in to a good sleep routine once they are old enough to be more consistent with their sleeping habits.