Getting your child to sleep through the nights and take good naps should be a goal every parent has. A well rested parent is a better parent and a well rested child is much more fun to be around.
Newborns have a lot on their plates. They are used to a quiet, dark, bubble, and suddenly they are thrust into a world where it is almost impossible to find quiet. For the first time in their lives they feel what it is like to be hungry. Before this they had a life line to a buffet that was open 24/7. With your newborn everything is new and you spend most of your time just getting them adjusted to the new world they are in. There isn’t much of a routine at this point, although you can try to be consistent with some of the things you do.
Six Months And Beyond
By the time babies are six months old they are old enough that they can go eight hours a night with out waking up. This is a good time to start working on your routine. at this age they are young enough to mold and not not quite independent enough to put up a real fight. Don’t take this to mean that will just comply easily when you start your routine. Unless you are really lucky there will be at least a little protesting, but with consistency this will not last nearly as long as if you wait until they are old enough to talk. I have never been a very organized person myself, but from the start I could see how a routine would be a benefit to my child. I know we are talking about a child here, but I have to admit some of my horse training came to mind. With a young horse if you start right away getting them used to being handled, having their feet picked up and knowing their boundaries they grow up never knowing the difference. They think that is the way life is. The same applies to a child. Yes, there are different children with different personalities. There are also the different personalities in the horse world. You hear people use the same excuses for their horse’s behavior that they use for their children. For example people come to me and their horse won’t do this or that or doesn’t like this or that. Well, in my barn there are certain behaviors that are not tolerated. There are certain dislikes that are not tolerated. It does not matter what their personality type. I do things a certain way and expect things a certain way. Sometimes their personality makes my job easier sometimes more difficult, but the end result is the same. This applies also to children. If you establish a routine, especially from a young age, they will follow your lead. Six months is a good time to start setting up a routine because it may take a while to really get it established.
You Must Be The Parent
The first step in setting up a routine is knowing why you are doing it. You are not just getting a routine because it makes your life easier, although that is a bonus. You are also setting up a routine because you know best. When you are a new mother sometimes this is hard to believe because you are still learning. But, you still know better than your child. At six months your baby has no way to communicate with you except by cries. It is your job to determine those cries.When I first had my son it took me a while to understand sometimes he cried because I waited too long to put him to sleep and he was overstimulated. It is your job to put your child to sleep if you realize they are fussy because they are tired. Just because they don’t like it does not mean you don’t do it especially when you know it is for their own good. You are the adult if you don’t lead now you definitely won’t once they are old enough to tell you what they think. This does not mean you have to be mean. If you are firm and stick to your plan you will win this battle and it will eliminate many battles down the road.
Example Of How A Routine Pays Off
Let me give you an example of my own life. My son is 18 months old now. I have had the same routine since he was about six months old. When we get ready for bed. We put on our pj’s, brush our teeth, kiss daddy and bubba, read a story, say prayers and then I put him in his crib, tuck him in and walk out. He is asleep in five minutes tops. There is no protesting, no fighting, no crying. Why? Because he thinks this is the way life is. It is the way it has been for as long as he can remember. Nap times are the same way. I read him a story, tuck him in and walk out. Sometimes at nap time he talks to himself for a while before he falls asleep, but there is hardly ever any crying. If I am at a friends house and it is his nap time I put up a playpen, put him a room by himself and walk out. He goes to sleep. This one took a little more time to teach because he was in a new place, but I kept working at it and now he does really well. This is just so much easier than fighting with your toddler I don’t see why anyone would not want to do this.
How to Get Started
When your baby gets about six months old they can sleep for at least eight hours even if you are breast feeding. This is a good time to start a bed time routine. This helps the baby start to realize that when you start giving her a bath and get pj’s on it is almost time for bed. You will notice once you have established their routine for a while that they start to rub their eyes around that time of night. They will start to associate bath and pjs etc with sleeping and look forward to it. The first night you start your routine when your child wakes up in the night like normal do not immediately run in his room. Look at your clock and let him fuss for a minute or two. Then go in, pick your baby up, check his diaper, and put him back in bed. They will usually cry especially if they are used to you rocking them to sleep. The only way they will learn how to sleep through the night is if they learn how to put them selves to sleep. If you always help them by rocking or feeding them then you will have to continue this for a long long time. Once he is back in bed look at your clock and wait for five minutes. Then go in, comfort and leave. Now wait ten minutes. Each time you go in wait an extra 5 minutes. I found this to be much easier than letting them cry it out entirely by themselves. They will eventually fall asleep. If you have a really hard time hearing your baby cry watch the clock where you can’t hear them. Remember you are doing this for a good reason. If you start doing this every day ,every time you put him down your baby will follow your lead. But, you must be strong enough to resist giving in. It is hard I know, but the end result is wonderful. I get comments all the time on what a happy baby my son is. He is a happy baby, but I know that alot of it is that he gets an appropriate amount of sleep.Read any parenting magazine and they will tell you babies need at least 14 hours of sleep. Ask your doctor he will tell you the same. My son sleeps about eleven or twelve hours a night and takes a two to two and a half hour nap every day.
Other tips and useful Info
Remember you will hit some bumps in the road. When you are visiting family it is sometimes hard to stay on routine. Try as best as you can, but don’t obsess about it. For me when this happened I just got back on routine as soon as I got back. It only took a day or two to get back on schedule. Teething sometimes throws you off schedule too. Try to be consistent, but make room for this as it is painful. I found that Hylands teething pills worked way better than Orajel for me. My son hated the taste of Orajel, but loved the teething tablets. Also they are all natural and help them sleep better. You can tell the difference between waking up because he is in pain and waking up just because. One way you can tell it has become habit is if it happens around the same time every night.. Remember not to wait to start a routine too late. If you think a little crying pulls on your heart strings wait until they are old enough to say momma. Trust me it does not get easier as they get older. Getting your child to sleep well at someone else’s house is harder, but just takes practice. If you are lucky enough to be at home all the time then this is not as much of problem. But if not get in the habit of taking your playpen. Put him to sleep just like you would at home. Mostly this just takes a lot of practice being in unfamiliar places, but if you practice enough your child will be able to sleep well at anyones house. Have fun and happy resting.