So much joy in that little bundle. But when it comes to getting your little one down to sleep, it can all feel like an uphill battle. Thankfully, top baby sleep consultant the London Baby Coach has some brilliant tips on how to help. Here’s what she told us...
Starting a routine with your baby, can feel daunting. But quite simply there’s no right or wrong time to do it; ultimately it comes down to your own parenting style, so whether you’re looking to do it in the early days, or wait until they are slightly older, I’ve listed my top 3 tips on what routine habits you can start.
When’s the optimum time to start?
You can start implementing routine habits as young as 2 weeks. But at around the age of 6 months, your baby’s natural sleep clock (known as the circadian rhythm) develops to a point where a routine will be more consistent and predictable – so it's often considered easier to wait until then.
It’s also at the 6 month point that many parents move their little ones to their own room/cot, and look to drop most night feeds.
Finding the right sleep routine
Whether pre or post 6 months, here are the key factors in finding the right sleep routine:
Look at your baby's awake windows. These are a big factor in baby sleep science. However, they can be the most frustrating to figure out, as it can change from one day to the next.
With some trial and error of either adding to or removing time from your baby's awake time, you can help find their sweet spot. Sometimes it can be as small as 10 minutes. Also, be mindful that not all babies have equal awake windows throughout the day – for example, they might have an awake window of 2 hours in the morning, but 2.5 in the afternoon.
Build on that sleep pressure.
During the day, your baby’s desire to sleep is also based on sleep pressure, which is what happens in those awake times.
In the early days, adjusting to life on earth is tiring enough for a little one, and will cause them to be on a sleep-eat-repeat cycle. As they start to become more alert and aware of the world, you can introduce small amounts of play, often later in the day can help with the so-called witching hour. When you’re starting to see larger awake windows – usually around 3 months – you could look at activities such as sensory play or music classes.
Have a bedtime routine.
When families contact me about looking to start a routine, I always find this is the nicest part to start with – and you can as early as you like. The average I find is around 4-6 weeks. A bedtime routine can be what you like it to be;it can include a bath, a massage and even story time. Although when starting out, I say start small, as things always tend to take longer than expected... and it can take a bit of time to get into the swing of things. Starting with a cotton wool wash down and change of baby-grow, this will be considered ‘getting ready for bed’ in a young baby’s eyes. Especially when their awake windows and tolerance to doing ‘things’ will be small. The main point is to try and do it at the same time each day, usually around 6:30/7pm, as this will set the tone going forward.
The two key things to remember when trying any routine setting strategy are patience and perseverance. You can certainly read online of babies whose sleep changed in just one night after implementing a tweak in their routine – but don’t get disheartened if this isn’t your baby. They all learn and adjust at different rates... some can take weeks to get used to something.
I always say at least 5 days is needed for something to start taking effect – so keep at it, you'll get there!