For babies, everything is new, everything is different. After having spent their entire existence in mom’s warm and safe in mom’s womb, they now find themselves in an environment where everything presents a new experience. As parents, one of the things we should try to do is present sleep time as a pleasant, comforting experience. One of the ways we can do that is by setting familiar sleep routines for baby.
Ultimately, babies set their own sleep schedules. There is no fail proof way to make a baby fall asleep, or to keep them sleeping once they nod off. Nor should there be. One of the reasons babies sleep more lightly that adults is that they have no other way of getting legitimate needs met other than crying for mom and dad. If babies slept through such things as being hungry, soiled, or cold, it would be bad for their health. Still, there are some things you can do to make sleep seem pleasant and desirable for your baby.
Swaddle your baby in a favorite blanket. As much as possible, choose one or two blankets, and use them regularly. Then, when baby sees and feels those particular blankets, she knows that it is time to go to sleep. Sing a familiar song. Until they are school aged, children thrive on repetition, and when you expose your baby to pre-bedtime routines, you establish an idea early on that bedtime is something that is familiar, safe, and even something to be looked forward to.
Include touch in your sleep routines. Whether you choose to rock your baby to sleep, or lie him on his side and gently rub his back, try to be consistent in the way you touch your baby when you are putting him down to sleep. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try anything different if baby is having a hard time falling asleep. Setting routines does not mean that you can’t be flexible or alter the routine at all. By all means, if your normal routines haven’t helped baby crawl off to dreamland, change things up a bit. Still, baby should come to recognize some sights, sounds and touches as being associated with sleep time.