Babies fall asleep when they’re ready to. We’ve all heard that, and to some degree it’s true. However, while there’s no way to make a baby go to sleep before she’s ready, there are some things you can do that will encourage most babies to fall asleep when you want them to.
The most important concept you can introduce to your young baby’s life is the routine. Life has been unpredictable for your little boy or girl ever since she was forced out of the coziest, most predictable environment she will ever know-your womb. Introducing routines from the earliest stages of their life allows them a sense of predictability that is comforting.
When it comes to sleep, your routines can be fairly simple, or quite elaborate, depending on your baby and your own personality. Some parents like to sing to their babies while they are putting them to bed. A familiar “bedtime song” is an excellent idea. Whether you use traditional lullabies of any other kind of soothing song doesn’t really matter, but it’s best to use the same songs every time you want to lay him down, as he will quickly associate the sounds with time to sleep.
When your baby is still new, you should make swaddling a part of your routine. Not only will she become accustomed to the idea that it’s time to sleep when she’s being swaddled, but she may also associate it with the warmth and comfort she felt when she was in your tummy.
As baby gets older, you can feel free to incorporate some of her favorite things into bed time. Often, being allowed to cuddle with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket will help your child fall to sleep. This can continue well into their childhood.
Some people, for that very reason, won’t let their children have attachment items. While there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with discouraging children from becoming too attached to things, there isn’t any cause to worry about it if they do, either. The fact is, they do outgrow it on their own. How many teddy bears did you see walking down the halls of your high school? Besides, if it helps your baby fall asleep, it’s well worth it.
At any rate, the important thing in introducing routine to your baby’s sleep schedule is to do the same things, the same way, at the same times whenever possible. Sooner or later, he’ll figure out that it’s time to go to sleep.