During my 5 years as a sleep professional, I’ve gotten used to people asking me what the “secret” is to getting a baby to sleep through the night.
As a parent, experiencing what feels like endless unsettledness after your baby wakes up from their sleep in the night or takes short unpredictable naps in the day can be demoralising. I know all too well about those feelings of worry and not knowing how your baby’s sleep (and your own sleep) will improve. Once I got to grips with the different developmental stages and how they affect sleep, it was reassuring and helped me understand (and accept) the progress and changes my baby was going through.
I can clearly remember, like most mothers I’m sure, the very moment I gave birth to my first child. I was absolutely buried in feelings of love and gratitude.
And then, about ten to fifteen seconds later, I was equally buried in advice, suggestions, and information - actually it started as soon as we announced we were expecting and was slightly worse with my second child!
This was all thrown at me with the best intentions, but it was overwhelming nonetheless. I can’t imagine the number of times I heard the words, “You should,” “You’ll want to,” and “You’ve got to.” If there’s no such number as a “kajillion,” it should be created specifically in order to measure the number of suggestions a new mother receives in her first year of motherhood.
A question I get a lot when working with families, I've been working through your suggestions for about a week now, but I'm having a really hard time keeping my baby awake through her feed at the bedtime routine. What can I do?"
This week I wanted to talk a bit about the bedtime routine, and the number one mistake parents make when they are creating a bedtime routine.
Lots of parents who use dummy's feel a twinge of guilt the first time they stick a pacifier in their baby’s mouth. However, dealing with a screaming infant in the grocery line or on a long car trip will make most parents try just about anything they can think of to calm the child down! I found them so helpful in those early days - but when does it start to impact things?
So, perhaps that’s a bit of a misleading title.
I’m not suggesting that you can remove yourself from baby’s bedtime routine altogether. Even if you could somehow say to your child, “Alright. It’s almost bedtime. Go have a bath, brush your teeth, get into your PJs, read yourself a story and tuck yourself in. Mommy will be out here watching The Bachelor with a glass of wine if you need me.”
Even if we could pull that off, I don’t know a single mother that would actually enjoy removing themselves from the routine. (Well, maybe once a week.)
Truth be told, I love putting my kids to bed. Watching them play in the bath, getting them
dressed in their warm, fuzzy pyjamas, cuddling and reading stories, I wouldn’t trade that for all the wine and trash TV in the world.
But the issue that I see with most parents whose babies won’t sleep through the night takes place after their little one gets into bed.