Bedtime routines. If you search online for “my baby won’t sleep” or “how to get my baby to sleep” you will find that almost every single website will talk about the importance of a routine. And so will I.
If you think about it, we all have routines that we follow subconsciously every night before going to bed. Without following these steps we may feel anxious or find it hard to sleep. That´s because we humans are creatures of habit. We like creating predictability and knowing what to expect of each situation.
Babies are no different. I believe that the sooner you have a bedtime routine with your baby, the easier it will be for him/her to settle down into sleep more relaxed and be able to sleep better. It also teaches your baby that it’s time to make that transition from day into night.
Most of you have read or heard about the importance of routines before and a lot of you will already be implementing routines with your children. That´s great! But the biggest mistake that parents make is that somewhere in the routine, the baby falls asleep!
Most people leave the feeding to the last step in the routine. You turn out the lights, sit down in a chair and let baby fall asleep on the breast or with the bottle. That´s the problem and where I suggest making the changes.
If you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby to sleep, it will be almost impossible for that baby to sleep through the night. It would be quite common that 45 mins later, your baby will wake up again and need another breast or bottle to go back to sleep. So you have to start the whole process again.
So what do I suggest? If your baby has a really strong association between eating and sleeping, I suggest you break it up with an extra step in the routine after the feed. Feed your baby with the lights on (a dim light or small lamp is enough) and after the feed introduce a story then turn out the lights and put your baby down awake.
This is the most important way your learn the skills she or he needs in order to become a great sleeper and start sleeping through the night. Think of sleep as a journey. You want that journey to start and finish in the same place. The crib. If your baby falls asleep outside of the crib and then your transfer him/her, he will undoubtedly wake up and want you to recreate the situation in which she fell asleep in the first place.
So there you have it, the number one mistake and the reason why most babies find it hard to sleep through the night.