One of the toughest things for many parents is introducing the idea of a regular bedtime for baby. Some babies simply don’t take to the notion as well as others. And if you’ve ever tried to get a baby to sleep before she is good and ready, you know that it’s not exactly an easy task.
The real trick to getting a baby to fall asleep when you want them to is to stick to a pre-bedtime routine and to make sure that things in your house start winding down and staying calm an hour or so before you want your baby to go to bed for the night. Of course, we’re talking about babies who are old enough to start sleeping through the night. There really isn’t much point in trying to train newborn infants to sleep through the night, as their bodies just aren’t ready for a full night’s sleep until they are at least four months old.
Once baby is four months old, however, there are steps you can take to help her get used to a regular bedtime. That doesn’t mean that she won’t wake up and need some parenting in the middle of the night, of course, but it is a step in the right direction towards getting her (and you) to sleep during the night time.
It really doesn’t matter exactly what your pre-bedtime routine is, as long as you are consistent and you keep things on a low tone for baby. Depending on your baby’s temperament, you may give her a warm bath. Many parents like to read stories or sing lullabies to their babies before bed time. Whatever you do, try doing the same thing night in and night out for the hour or so before bedtime. The hope is that your baby will begin to associate these activities with being tired and going to sleep.
Some parents find that playing some calming music helps set the tone fr baby to go to sleep. Most find that a good feeding is in order before bedtime, and many more find that rocking helps put baby to sleep.
Whether you want to rock baby to sleep or lay her down when she is drowsy but not yet sleeping is up to you. Just be aware that if baby becomes accustomed to being rocked to sleep, she may have difficulty falling asleep by herself later. As long as you’re prepared to rock her to sleep every night, that really doesn’t present a problem, of course.
When you do need to wake up to feed or otherwise take care of the baby at night, do your best to keep things as boring as possible. Keep the lights dim and avoid playing with the baby or otherwise signaling to her that this is a time to get up and play. Most babies will eventually take the hint and go back to sleep after they have been fed, changed, or otherwise had their needs met.