Ever since our new baby arrived, my wife and I have had to say goodbye to the idea of a good night’s sleep. Babies have a schedule of their own, one that you have to follow if you want to keep your little one happy.
Our little bundle of joy can sleep all morning and want to play all night. If we try to wake her in the morning, she cries as if something terrible has happened.
She is almost 4 months old now, so things are getting slightly better, but it’s still a 50-50 chance that she will keep us up all night.
There are good days in which she is awake in the morning and asleep through the night, but those are still far from being the norm.
We’ve found that setting a bedtime routine helps a bit, but it is definitely not foolproof. Here is what we do, if you have any other ideas please let us know in the comments section, and we’ll definitely try them out
- Give her some tummy time
- Give her a bath
- Change her diaper
- Feed her
- Rock her to sleep with a lullaby
I’ll now try to explain why we chose each of these activities for our bedtime routine.
Tummy time: Tummy time refers to putting your baby on her tummy, and allowing her to attempt to raise her head. We only did this after she reached three months, so I have no idea when is the best age to start doing this. But I think it can be safely started after a baby reaches an age of two months — I’ve seen websites that advice you to start short periods of tummy time two weeks after birth, but I feel it is safer to wait a bit. Ask your pediatrician when you can safely start this to be on the safe side.
Tummy time is like gym for babies. Do you remember how you feel after a good run or workout in the gym? Personally, I feel happy from exercise induced endorphins and pleasantly tired — even sleepy. That is exactly the feeling you need to give your baby before you put her down to bed.
A word of warning though, tummy time should always be supervised. Never leave your baby on her tummy alone as that increases the risk of SIDS.
A bath: Imagine how you feel after a nice warm bath. Can you recall the relaxed feeling you get? In fact, a warm bath is one of the best ways for adults to wind down after a hard day at work and relax — or a warm shower if that is more your thing.
Babies also need to relax after the stress of the day. A nice warm bath will relax baby and have her ready for sleep.
Change her diaper: a wet baby is an unhappy baby. A wet or soiled diaper is a cause of irritation to a baby, changing her will remove this source of irritation. It will also allow you to sleep longer through the night before you need to change her again since a fresh diaper can store more fluids before it needs changing.
We always change her diaper before feeding her, to prevent spitups if baby has had too much to eat or wasn’t burped properly.
Feed her: Remember the saying “A hungry man is an angry man”? Well it applies in spades to babies. Your baby needs to be well-fed before she goes to sleep, otherwise you will have difficultly putting her to sleep or will have to feed her when she wakes up soon afterwards demanding food — we are trying to reduce this a bit, so that she doesn’t become accustomed to breastfeeding as a precondition to sleep. If that happens, you will have a very hard time trying to wean her later on. So we sometimes feed her a bit earlier and skip this stage when putting her down to bed.
Rock her to sleep with a lullaby: I’ve said this before on social media, and I know I’ll probably get many negative comments about this, but I can’t get myself to use the Ferber method on my baby.
I believe that babies have an evolutionary need to be held as they fall asleep. Imagine what would happen if a baby were placed on the jungle floor to cry herself to sleep in the very distant past.
She would probably be eaten by some jungle creature. Evolution likely made sure that a baby only fell asleep in the safest environment — the arms of its parents.
So, in my opinion, leaving a baby to cry itself to sleep is cruel and goes against evolutionary needs. I rock my baby to sleep with a lullaby to meet her emotional needs and to let her know that daddy is with her and that it is safe to sleep.
She usually falls asleep in a few minutes if there is nothing else causing her distress — if she needs a diaper change, an additional feeding or has colic, then she will only fall asleep when these issues are addressed.
I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing here, we’re first time parents and we are doing the best we can. If you have any tips and tricks for getting a baby to go to sleep, please let us know in the comments section. All advice is very welcome.