Nap in a snap! 5 Steps to easy baby sleeping
People are always shocked to learn that my twins have two naps a day and are in bed by 6pm every night. However, it hasn’t always been this easy. My first two children probably had the worse sleep habits ever. My first born didn’t go to sleep until way past 11pm and I had to sleep beside her until she finally fell asleep. My second child slept in my bed well until he was six or seven and I had to play with his hand in a certain way or else he wouldn’t sleep.
When my third child arrived you could say I was somewhat sleep deprived, yet by the time he was three months old I noticed that every night for about three days he would fall asleep just after dinner time. The light bulb was lit and I discovered the secret!
Our Baby’s internal clock takes its cue from the consistent and predictable routine set by us, the parents. It doesn’t necessarily have to be schedule, but a pattern of regular naps that our baby’s can count on every day. For example my when I brought home my twins I knew from the start that my hubby wasn’t going to be here for several months, yet six children needed to be up every morning and off to school. Right away I began a routine of sleeping, eating, and playtime / activity – in that order – which revolves over a two hour period repeated throughout the day. By the time the twins were three months this routine worked like a charm and still does, because they began to predict the rhythm of sleep, eat, and play.
KNOW YOUR BABY’S CUES!
Every morning whether they are sleeping or not (and yes even on weekends ugh!) the twins are up at 7am. I then feed them a light snack / breakfast, get them changed into daytime clothes, and then they play. When they were less mobile I would put them in their bouncy chairs, or in their exersaucer, in a room where they could watch their siblings get ready for school. They then come with me as I drive all the children to school. By the time we get home which is about 8:50am they start to show signs of being tired. Yawning, drooping eyelids, and less focused eyes, are signs to pay attention to, and to act upon. When it progresses to eye rubbing, fussy behaviour and crying, chances are you have missed the window of opportunity and it may become harder to get your wee one to sleep.
SLEEP SHOULD BE IN THE CRIB
When the twins were newborns I had them sleep in the little co-sleeper beds but still in the crib side by side. I wanted them to be comfortable and familiar with the crib right from the start. For me, it is also important to place them in the crib before they are actually sleeping so they associate being placed in the crib with sleep time. As the twins grew I took them out of the sleeper cot but still had them side by side. Eventually they were placed in their own cribs but now they will not sleep anywhere except in their crib.
SAY NO-NO TO SHORT NAPS AND NAPS ON THE GO!
A full nap in my house needs to last for at least an hour or more. As tempting as it is to let your baby have a quick nap in the car seat while you run a few errands, it will throw them right off their schedule. Now at 1 year of age, my twins won’t sleep anywhere else except in their crib so I try to work all my errands and activities around their sleep schedule. With 8 children, I quickly discovered that quick naps can trick you into thinking it is enough sleep. What I quickly discovered however, was that the first 15 or 20 minutes reduce feelings of sleepiness and bring on a quick rush of baby energy. This crazy energy quickly dissipates and will leave you with nothing but a fussy, crying, and tantrum throwing baby. Why? Because your wee one hasn’t received all the benefits that are achieved with a longer nap.
USE SECURITY ITEMS WITH CAUTION!
I have had my share of children who required marathon nursing sessions, pacifiers, rocking, music and so forth to fall asleep so I strongly discourage this. However, I have found that giving baby a special little blankie right away when they arrive home works well. It often smells like mama, and they begin to associate it with bedtime. Just be sure to buy a few of them (I bought those little fluffy tiny bear blankies) so if one gets lost or really dirty you have a replacement!
THREE MONTH MARK
By about 3 months you will probably start to notice a pattern in your little ones eating and sleeping patterns. If your baby starts to nod off every evening at 7pm then go with it – put him or her into the crib and start to do this every night at the same time. When your baby wakes to feed keep the lights dim and activity to a minimum so he realizes it is still sleep time. It isn’t always easy but if you stay patient and consistent you will reap the benefits of a baby who actually sleep and naps!