Updated: Oct 7, 2020
The most common difficulty every new mom faces is setting up a sleep schedule for babies. The entire routine gets off if the baby does not sleep on time, and mothers have to be available in their supervision. Mothers need their time and routine life, which is possible with a complete scheduled sleep timetable of a baby.
The first few weeks of your baby’s life are all about adjustment - for both of you. It’s too soon to expect structured newborn sleep patterns, so take your cues from your baby to establish a healthy and natural newborn baby's sleep schedule.
I have been to this phase and researched like anything on my first child, thus my struggles ended up with a few great ideas, which I thought useless at the first step, but it works. Just stay consistent, as consistency is the key when it comes to developing a baby's sleep routine. All you have to do is keep trying consistently from the first day when you and baby shift home from the hospital.
First and foremost, Establish a bedtime routine:
In my first child, I made a big mistake in not taking the correct steps to settle the baby's bedtime routine. My child gave me a difficult time every night to sleep. I used to promenade all around the house with my son on my lap, to make him sleep. That horrible experience made me realize that I needed to set up a routine for him.
Therefore, in my second child, I was completely ready to develop new habits of baby sleep schedule from the very beginning.
The day I came home from the hospital, I started working on her sleep routine, which suits mine. The first thing you need to do is keeping the same time every day for the baby to sleep. You may be out sometimes or busy to continue a similar time table. Getting late for sometimes is acceptable, but disturbing the routine frequently will penalize you with unmanageable baby sleep issues.
Each night, perform bedtime rituals that will ease your baby's mind and prepare their body for sleep. Include soothing techniques such as bathing, massaging, or singing lullabies. Keep anything stimulating—like tickling, watching TV, or playing with electronic toys—out of the equation. Following a consistent routine lets your baby know it’s time for bed, and it also develops their internal clock.
How to set routine: Keep a time table or timer set for baby to sleep in the night, and even nap in the day time. Give a complete effort in the beginning to reinforce the habit of your baby.
Bathing and massaging: In the hospital, my baby was given a shower at night, as it's said that babies get good sleep after the shower. The reason for that is the physical exercise in showering that makes baby tired, hence they go to sleep. It's very much recommended to decide a shower time according to your baby's sleep routine. With me giving a shower at night was not a good option due to the cold weather, so I switched showering and massage timings. Like I used to give a shower in the afternoon for a good daytime nap, and massage in the night just before sleep time. The idea is to get the baby into some physical activity, so they feel tired and sleep well. Gradually it became my routine and helped me a lot in the baby's sleeping schedule.
Tummy time in the night: Most doctors suggest giving 5-6 tummy times to a baby which helps to make muscles stronger. I suggest to try and give at least a few minutes tummy time to your baby, before sleep. Think this way, when we get physically exhausted we get good and deep sleep. Likewise, babies also get tired after stretching their muscles during tummy time. It works well with some babies, try it out.
Warm feed: Since my childhood, I have heard my mother advising me to drink warm milk at night, to get better sleep. I tried it with my child and it worked. All you need to do is, feed your baby a little warm milk if it is formula feed. The mother's feed is naturally warm and the body warmth makes it more relaxing for babies. (remember to use warm, not hot milk)
Room atmosphere: Babies need to understand the difference between night and daytime, for that you need to change the room's atmosphere for your baby. Keep lights on and a little noise in the day time, and make sure to create a quiet environment around and dim lights during the night.
This practice will develop an understanding of night and day in babies and help you to incorporate a great sleep schedule for them.
Set a night feeding time: If your baby is waking early for a morning feeding, some small changes may allow a slight shift in schedule. You might try waking your baby for the late-night feeding at a time that suits your sleep schedule:
For instance, if your baby sleeps after 8 p.m. feeding and wakes up at 2 a.m. to eat, try waking the baby to feed at 11 p.m (just before you sleep). Then, put your little one down to sleep until an early-morning feeding at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.
Soothing music/ lullaby: lullaby is a very organic and classic way to calming babies. Think this way, when we get exhausted or stressed after a long working day, we prefer a silent room with soft music to calm down our minds. That is naturally inherited in all babies, lullaby works like magic. The simple, repeating melody is a source of comfort for babies. You can put the soft sound on the musical mobile or sing by yourself, whichever way suits your baby.
Most importantly, keep the bed/crib very comfortable: Do not put anything else in the crib or bassinet. Keep plush toys, pillows, blankets, unfitted sheets, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, and bumper pads out of your baby's sleep area. Their comfort will keep them asleep for a long time.
Remember: Your baby will likely set (at least part) of his own sleep schedule. He/She might be an early riser and like to eat as soon as he wakes up, or he may like to sleep in and eat later in the morning. Either one is perfectly fine — babies vary as to how much sleep they need, and when they need it. Consistency in your efforts to set a good sleep schedule for your baby will help you to continue a routine lifestyle.