A baby schedule can make your life easier
Getting baby on a sleep schedule can help you get more rest too.
By Holly Case
Establishing a baby schedule is definitely not easy, but most parents wish for it at some point. Many sleepless nights in a row can leave you needing a good night's sleep on a regular basis again. While it's normal for babies to need feedings in the middle of the night, sleep doesn't have to be at completely erratic times. But as most parents discover, trying to get your baby to sleep at a specific time requires some training for both you and the baby.
Mixed up days and nights
It's common for newborns to have their days and nights mixed up, which means that they want to sleep all day and stay awake all night. Avoid letting things be too exciting at night to signal that it's time to sleep when it's dark. However, resist the urge to make the baby stay up late during the day; overly tired babies have a harder time falling asleep at night.
Pay attention to baby's cues
It's difficult to create a schedule until a baby is at least a few months old, and some seemingly random behavior is normal. However, you can take advantage of good opportunities by paying attention to your baby's cues. For example, if you notice your little one starting to yawn, you can read a bedtime story or sing a lullaby to signal that it's time for bed. Those signals will come in handy in a few months as baby's more receptive to getting on a routine.
Start with bedtime
If your baby has a completely random and disorganized routine, the best and easiest place to start is at bedtime. A??bedtime ritual is fairly easy to establish. A bath, story time, feeding and cuddle can help little ones more easily transition in to an organized schedule.
Establish the right order
After observing your little one, you may discover a baby schedule is already in place. But if not, you can try to sort the baby's day into a specific order of events. In general, when feeding time is followed by play and then sleep, the baby's body gradually learns to expect that specific routine.
No matter when your baby sleeps, make sure you're following the latest safety guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends always placing your baby on his or her back to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Establishing a baby schedule isn't always easy, and it shouldn't consistently cause the baby to cry. However, it's definitely worth the effort. Schedules don't have to involve harsh discipline; they can provide a gentle and predictable structure to the day. Once the little one has an organized schedule, it makes life a lot easier for the entire family.
Check with a local general or family physician if you have more concerns about your baby's sleeping habits or overall health.
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