By Megan Faure, founder of Baby Sense and author of The Babysense Secret
To set the stage for good sleep habits, you need to start early on with little habits and strategies that will improve your baby’s sleep from one week to the next.
- Don’t wake your baby for feeds – take his lead for waking at night. This allows your baby to establish natural sleep cycles. (Your pediatrician will tell you if you need to start waking your baby at night if he is not thriving) If your baby still needs night feeds (can be up to 6 months of age), feed in semi-darkness – use a dimmer or a passage light instead of the bright bedroom light.
- Keep night feeds strictly business affairs. Don’t smile or talk to your baby at night – keep these important happy interactions for daylight hours. Don’t change your baby’s diaper at night– buy the best diaper you can afford for nighttime and leave it on all night unless it is clearly dirty with poop or leaking. The new generation gel diapers are fine to leave on all night as they soak up all the urine and your baby’s bum remains dry.
- From about 3 months onwards, encourage your baby to self-sooth. Do not ‘pacify’ your baby with a pacifier in an attempt to decrease night feeds. Rather feed him when he wakes for feeds at night, if more than three hours have passed since the last feed.
- Maintain a consistent bedtime routine that incorporates soothing sensory strategies, such as a warm bath, a massage, lavender smells and gentle rocking.
- To establish good day sleep habits follow the awake times as set out in The Babysense Secret. This is the amount of time your baby can be happily awake before needing to be settled to sleep during the day. For instance a 6 week old can be awake for an hour before needing to be settled to sleep. By working with your baby’s natural alert periods, you will find a day sleep routine emerges naturally.
About the Author
Megan Faure, BSc, OT, OTR is the author of the new book from DK publishing, The BabySense Secret. She is an occupational therapist who has worked for more than a decade in the pediatrics field in several countries including the USA and South Africa. In addition to her best-selling parenting book Baby Sense, Faure has developed a collection of innovative Baby Sense products based on her Sensible Sensory Parenting principles outlined in her books.
In addition to the Baby Sense book series, Faure has authored several magazine articles in the field of child psychology, parenting and child development. She is also the founder and chairperson of the Infant Sensory Integration Training group which provides courses for therapists to equip them to treat, assess, and understand infant behavior. Faure regularly lectures to both professionals and parents on various baby and childcare issues. For more information on Baby Sense visit www.babysense.com. To purchase Baby Sense products in the U.S. visit www.kastelinternational.com.