Why You Should Establish Baby's Sleep Schedule Now
Why You Should Establish Baby's Sleep Schedule Now

by Dana Sullivan

Learn how to get your new baby into a regular sleep routine -- before problems have a chance to set in

Getting your baby on a sleep schedule -- so that you can sleep too -- really depends on one thing: routine."Establish three or four simple but soothing activities that you do without fail," says Jodi A. Mindell, associate director of The Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and author of Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep

The activities that make up the routine aren't as important as being consistent with them.

For example, with a young infant, you might try a bath, a few minutes of massage, and then breastfeeding or a bottle. If your baby is a little bit older, giving him a bath and then reading a book and singing a lullaby might become your routine.

Here are a few other baby sleep schedule tips Mindell suggests:

Baby Sleep Schedule Secret No. 1: Put baby in his crib while he's still awake.

This is fundamental to establishing good sleep habits. If you rock or nurse your baby to sleep, eventually he may only be able to fall asleep if he's in your arms."Put a baby to bed drowsy but awake" is the sleep experts' mantra.

Baby Sleep Schedule Secret No. 2: Watch the clock.

Babies thrive on routine, and even though they can't tell time -- exactly -- they do have an internal clock."Put your baby to sleep at the same time every night and you will help establish good sleeping habits," says Mindell.

Baby Sleep Schedule Secret No. 3: Keep the room cool.

Believe it or not, your baby doesn't need a completely cozy bedroom, says Mindell. Dress your baby about the same way you'd dress yourself, keeping in mind that he won't be covered by blankets or a comforter, so his t-shirt and pajamas or fleece sleeper have to provide adequate warmth. (Thick blankets, plush sheepskin mattress covers, quilts and comforters that can slip up and cover a baby's face have been linked with sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and should never be used for babies younger than 1.) There is not one temperature that works for every baby, but if your baby awakens sweaty, or if his hands or feet feel cold to the touch when he's asleep, you need to add or remove layers accordingly.

Baby Sleep Schedule Secret No. 4: Block out noise.

Some babies could sleep through a barking dog, a ringing doorbell and the mayhem of older siblings. Others will awaken when a cat walks past the bedroom door. If your baby is a light sleeper, consider installing a white noise machine in his room. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, says Mindell, just a fan or a humidifier that makes a droning and constant noise. Mindell doesn't recommend noise machines that turn off after 10 minutes because if your baby awakens in the middle of the night and the room is too quiet, he may have trouble falling back asleep. And guess who will be awakened to come to his rescue?

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/StudioStella


Parenting: "Why You Should Establish Baby's Sleep Schedule Now"