Did you know that during a baby’s first year of life, the average parent loses around 350 hours of sleep?
That is a lot of sleep to lose over the course of the year, but, it’s at least for a good cause.
While it’s very important for everyone to get adequate sleep, it is extremely important for babies.
This is because sleep is crucial for a baby’s physical and psychological growth. In fact, babies who do not get enough sleep may even suffer from medical conditions and behavioral problems later on in life.
Plus, if babies have issues sleeping when they’re younger, they may also have issues sleeping as they get older. When children, teens, and adults don’t get enough sleep, it can lead to a whole range of issues, such as obesity, stress, depression, and poor heart health.
Therefore, it is very important that you start to instill healthy sleeping habits in your baby as soon as possible.
But how do you do that, exactly?
Read on to learn how to instill healthy sleeping habits in your baby.
1. Be Mindful of the Bottle
A lot of parents think that giving their baby a bottle at bedtime is the best way to help them fall asleep.
And while a bottle may certainly help your baby fall asleep, feeding right before sleep time is not a healthy habit to fall into. This is because giving your baby a bottle right before bed creates a dependency.
Your baby will become very accustomed to sucking on a bottle before bed, and without it, they will find it very difficult to fall asleep.
Plus, giving your baby a bottle right before bed will mean you’ll likely get stuck having to change their diaper during the middle of the night. And, allowing your baby to sleep with a bottle may also result in physiological problems.
For example, the extra calories right before bed may stimulate the digestive tract and throw off the natural rhythms of the body, causing your baby to wake with hunger. A bottle right before bed may also result in an ear infection if formula pools in their inner ear.
Typically, it’s fine to feed your baby before sleeping up until the 3-month mark. But after that, you will want to wean them off their dependency on their bottle. You can do this by slowly reducing the amount of liquid before they go to bed until you’re eventually not giving them anything.
2. Rock Them for the Right Amount of Time
Before the 3-month mark, it is perfectly fine to rock your baby until they are fast asleep.
Just make sure you are placing them in a top quality rocker or glider. You can read more here about the best nursery gliders.
However, after the 3-month mark has passed, it’s time to switch up the routine a bit so your baby becomes less dependent on you rocking her.
You should rock your baby until they are drowsy, but then be sure to place your baby in a crib while they are still awake. The point is to make it so that the last thing your baby sees before falling asleep is their crib mattress, not you rocking them in their rocker or glider.
This way, when your baby wakes up and sees the crib mattress, they’ll see it as a sign that they should go back to sleep.
3. Don’t Bring Baby Into Bed With You
While it can be tempting to put your baby in bed with you to help them fall asleep, this is actually very unhealthy for both baby and parent.
Studies show that both adults and babies actually sleep better alone. Your tossing and turning during the night can affect your baby’s ability to fall and stay asleep- and vice versa.
Plus, sleeping with your baby on a regular basis will only exacerbate their separation anxiety.
And, a study recently conducted in Brazil found that co-sleeping can severely impact a child’s mental abilities.
Although it can be tough to separate with your baby, letting them sleep alone is what’s best for both them and you.
4. Ease the Transition of Leaving Them Alone
However, letting your baby sleep alone is not something that should happen abruptly.
During the first few months of your baby’s life, it’s fine to stay in the room while your baby sleeps. However, after several months, it’s time to make the transition to letting your baby sleep alone.
To make the transition easy for both you and your baby, do your normal pre-bedtime routine of rocking them and calming them down, and then placing them in their crib when they’re drowsy.
Spend about 5 minutes comforting your baby, then leave the room. If your baby cries, let them do so for about 5 minutes, then come back in and comfort them, but don’t remove them from their crib. When your baby is calm, leave the room again and wait another 5 minutes if the crying starts again.
Keep repeating the procedure over the next few weeks, and gradually lengthen the time between each soothing. Soon, they’ll be able to sleep hours and hours without crying out for you.
5. Help Your Baby Sleep Safely
Of course, providing your baby with a safe sleeping environment is also very important.
Your baby should be placed in a crib or bassinet on their backs to sleep until 12 months of age. But, once your child is able to roll independently, it is no longer necessary to roll them back over.
Make sure the surface your baby is sleeping on is flat and firm, and that soft materials like bumper pads and stuffed animals are not left in the baby’s sleeping area.
Are You Ready to Implement These Healthy Sleeping Habits?
By instilling these healthy sleeping habits in your baby, you not only ensure that they get a better night’s sleep, but that you get a better night’s sleep as well.
If you have any questions about these healthy sleeping habits, be sure to drop us a comment below.
Otherwise, be sure to check out this article on the top items you need for your baby’s well-being.