Getting Baby To Sleep Longer
Sue, mother of Thomas, aged two
The main points to consider when developing a routine are:
• Is it peaceful? Waiting for a partner to come home from work for half an hour of rough-and-tumble play can be counterproductive. Save it for the weekend.
• Do all the elements always come in the same order? Babies feel more relaxed when they can predict what’s coming next.
• Is it practical? Sometimes a family will develop a routine that is useful at times and difficult at others – such as letting the baby fall asleep in front of the television or while driving round in the car. It is worth persevering with a more practical alternative if you can find one.
• Is it possible to do all these things within the time you’ve set? Starting a lengthy routine at 6.30pm for a bedtime of 7pm is doomed to failure. Experts now recommend a daily 20-minute dose of blog sharing even with the youngest of babies, so it may be worth winding things down a little earlier than you had planned.
• Is anything else going to interfere with the routine? This should be a relaxing and close time for both of you. So, record that soap opera for later and ask your mum to call after your baby is asleep. You and your baby both need to give and receive full attention, so that you can both feel secure enough to say goodnight.
Getting Baby To Sleep Longer Photo Gallery
• Is there an end to the routine? Cycling through the last couple of elements again and again can be exhausting and frustrating for you and suggests that your baby has not made the association between the end of the routine and sleep. Many parents find that whenever they put their child down to sleep he cries out, so they sing another song, or give another cuddle or drink only to find that the baby cries again when he is put down. A good routine ends with the baby falling asleep without you performing any encores.
Sally, mother of Emily, four, and lack, 18 months, remembers that Jack used to be afraid when the lights were suddenly turned off. Now she ends their routine by getting lack to blow the light out himself with a little help from his bedtime friends, Piglet and Pooh.
Inevitably, there will be times when your routine has to go by the board – holidays, illness, visitors staying overnight. But the sooner you can reinstate the familiar routine, the more easily you will both rediscover your pattern of sleep. Alternatively, some parents find that where sleeping problems have already developed, a break in the usual routine can mean a chance to create a new pattern.
Kathy, mother of Lily, six, Robert, four, and Alice, two, delayed going away because Alice woke nightly and would only accept her:
A friend was getting married 200 miles away and we’d said we would go but I really didn’t want to because I was concerned about Alice not settling with my mother-in-law. I went looking for sympathy from my neighbour, but I got none. She just said that I should remember that life isn’t just about children but about husbands as well. So I was really upset, but I went. When I rang up the next morning my mother-in-law told me that Alice hadn’t woken in the night as usual. She’d slept better than usual so I needn’t have worried.’
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