Straight to it, no BS, here are my top tips for getting better sleep with your baby right from day one.
Watch for sleepy cues:
One of the essential things we can do when it comes to making our lives easier and achieving sleep success for baby is to watch out for those early sleepy cues. Our babies use various means of communication to tell us when they're starting to get sleepy, when they're ready to go to sleep and when they're becoming overtired (and difficult to put down). A common problem, however, is that tired and hungry cues can look incredibly similar.
Following an Eat/Wake/Sleep (E/W/S) routine can help parents differentiate between hunger and sleepy cues. E/W/S means that once baby wakes, you feed them then have their wake time and then get them down for a nap once they show those early sleepy cues. Using early cues means you'll likely have a happy baby whose ready to go down, instead of an overtired or fussy baby that will fight sleep.
Just in case you need a refresher, here are the differences between those early, tired and overtired cues:
Use Wake Windows:
A wake window is the maximum amount of time a baby can tolerate being awake between sleeps. That time will lengthen as baby grows and is based on what they are able to handle developmentally. Wake windows will give you a guideline for when you should aim to put baby down for sleep.
Because wake windows are just a guideline based on age, you'll have to learn the best time for your child based on that general guide along with watching for those early sleepy cues. Aim to put baby down when you see those early cues, within their age-appropriate wake window. This takes time to figure out, and will change as baby grows and develops.
Establish a Predictable Routine
I love routines and rhythms, they are such an easy and effective way to create predictability to your days! Babies feel safe and secure when they know what to expect. Implementing routines right from birth help your baby learn what is happening and when! Try to remember, a prepared brain is a safe brain.
You can use routines with any process you want your baby to become familiar with, especially as they grow. When it comes to sleep, I recommend creating a short and predictable routine before bed and naps. These steps, when completed around the same time in the same place help baby's brain prepare for sleep.
Focus on Consistency:
The most important element of creating sleep success (or really anything in life) is to use consistency over time. Learning any new skill takes time, practice and LOTS of consistency. Nothing will change in one night or one nap, so don't give up! It takes your baby months to learn to hold up their head, sit up, roll, walk, talk, etc. Sleep is absolutely no different.
Whether trying to get your baby used to their bassinet or crib, pr formally sleep training your baby, consistency will equal success every single time. If the same thing happens each time, your baby will learn what to expect and it will become easier over time. If your behaviour changes every time you try something new or only try every once in a while, you're going to have a tough time seeing success with what you're working on.