Sleep is not black and white and if there is one thing for certain is that sleep will change a lot over the first few years of your little one’s life. By staying in tune and on top of these changes, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress, your baby’s needs are taken into account and life will feel less frustrating for you both.
As babies get older, their sleep needs will change. For, e.g., from four naps your baby will drop down to three naps, to two naps and eventually to one. The amount of time they can handle being awake for will increase, which will, then, change the timings of your little one’s nap times and bedtime. Weaning will, then, change your routine again to accommodate for his/her meal times.
In this 7 step series, I’ll be sharing my ‘7 Steps to sleep success’ with you – what I find to be the backbone of setting up positive sleep habits and associations. These seven steps will help you adjust to your baby’s sleep needs accordingly as he/she gets older.
1. Good morning sunshine
To avoid early morning waking as best you can or to help your little one to sleep longer in the mornings, it’s a good idea to differentiate between nighttime and wake-up time. I encourage making a big fuss of wishing your little one good morning, opening the blinds or switching on the light and gently easing into the day. This will help your little one come to understand that until you’ve made your big ‘good morning hello’ that it’s still sleeping time or at least still playtime.
Try and have a set ‘wake up’ time – a time which you are willing to call morning time. We all want our babies to sleep until 7 am or later, but some, especially little ones who have been waking early for some time, may find it hard to sleep in or play happily until 7 am if they have been used to getting up much earlier to start the day. Set realistic expectations. I think 6 am onwards is realistic. Anything before that should be deemed too early to start the day. By having a similar wake-up time for your little one, your day is more likely to be predictable for both you and baby, making naps, mealtimes and planning your day much easier.
Your little one doesn’t know the time. Only you do. By calling it morning time, you help your little one learn when ‘wake-up’ time is. If you get him up for the day whenever he wakes, no matter how early it is, and he gets used to it, you could be setting yourself up for very early mornings, days which look nothing alike and a fatigued baby.
If your baby does wake early – for example, 5 am – pretend it’s 2 am and try and settle your little one back to sleep. You could try a feed, as often, babies get hungry at around this time. If the feed doesn’t do the trick, then at this point, put him all the way back to sleep if you need to. It’s more important that he goes back to sleep during this early morning period rather than how he gets to sleep.
Another way to encourage longer morning is to set up your baby’s room to be the perfect sleep sanctuary. See here for more on how to do this.
Find step 1 to 7 Steps to sleep success here.
You can also download my free eBook, ‘7 Reasons why your baby may not be sleeping’ here.