5 Ways To Improve Your Baby’s Sleep Right Now

Regardless of your baby’s age or how he currently sleeps, there are a few things you can do tonight that will improve your baby’s sleep.

1. Get the environment right!

Your baby will be able to fall asleep and stay asleep longer if his environment is optimized for sleep. Use blackout blinds to create a deep dark space. Block out distracting noises while also soothing the sleeping brain with white, pink or brown noise. Make sure the room temperature is relatively cool – around 20°C – and use a sleep sack to keep your baby comfortable while they sleep.

2. Expose the baby to morning and evening light!

Exposure to natural sunlight can help synchronize a baby’s circadian rhythms and promote healthy sleep patterns. This is because natural light contains the full spectrum of colors and wavelengths that help regulate the body’s internal clock. Research has shown that babies exposed to natural light during the day tend to sleep longer and sounder at night. Take the baby out for 15 minutes within 45 minutes of their ideal waking time. Repeat again later in the day with another 15 minutes of outdoor light exposure within 45 minutes of their ideal bedtime.

3. Always put the baby in their crib awake!

Start putting your baby in their crib at bedtime and fully awake. Not sleepy and not yet asleep; they have to learn how to sleep from being awake. The first few times you do this, your baby probably won’t be happy. There are many different ways to help your baby learn how to transition from being awake to being aware. You can learn more through great books like Loved To Sleep by Andrea Strang o Good Night, Sleep by Kim West. Or you can work with a sleep consultant who can provide a personalized plan for teaching your baby through learning how to sleep.

4. Watch the wake windows!

There is a limit to how long babies can stay awake at any given time. We call that the “wake window” and as babies grow, their windows get longer. While you might think that keeping a baby awake for long periods of time means they’ll be nice and tired and fall asleep more easily, nothing could be further from the truth.

The longer a baby is awake outside their window, the more likely they are overtired, making it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. Overtired babies will often wake up during the night and take short naps. Find out what your baby’s wake window is based on their age and put them in their crib when they reach the end of their wake window, not when they start showing signs of fatigue. After 12 to 16 weeks, relying on signs of tiredness to know when to stop a baby for sleep may mean the baby is on the way to being overtired. There is a sweet spot before they show signs of fatigue when it is easier to fall asleep.

5. Be consistent!

Whatever method you choose to help your baby fall asleep, always stick to the plan. Do the same thing, over and over, and your baby will know this is what happens every time they fall asleep. They begin to expect and need sleep to happen the same way every time. If you are consistent, you will achieve your goal of helping your baby learn to fall asleep with little or no intervention. Sticking to a plan sometimes means you’re unlikely to achieve your goals. Babies won’t know what to expect from each nap and bedtime and this will make them restless and unwilling to sleep.

Bonus: Don’t be afraid to cry

There are sleep training methods that boast they don’t cause tears, in my experience all babies will cry, if only a little. Don’t be afraid of those tears. Your baby is venting their frustration, their exhaustion and their awkwardness at doing something out of the blue and crying is how babies express these big feelings. Heck, even I sometimes need a good cry when I’m so tired.

Babies’ cries are designed to make their parents want to rush to the baby’s side and take care of them and it can feel mentally painful when your baby cries. But a good sleep training plan will ensure that your baby’s tears are reduced every time they fall asleep. In fact, in my experience, when you have a good plan and support from a sleep consultant, the tears are short lived. Most of my clients experience a noticeable reduction in tears the first night of implementing a sleep plan. Don’t let the fear of your baby crying stop you from helping them learn the important skill of falling asleep. After all, there are so many benefits of sleep training a baby!

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