“The Circle” of Naps and Bedtime Sleep

After writing this post about my experience with a sleep consultant and offering to help other families get their babies to sleep well for free, I quickly received two requests.  Honestly, I was a little amazed that it happened so quickly, but mostly excited to help these two families.  I hope they are finding the information I’m offering them helpful.  It also became immediately apparent that there is a lot I would like to write about to help families who may really be able to quickly find answers without even needing me directly!

I began to write this post and it became so extensive (because there is so much that changes with age), that I decided to break it down into multiple posts by age.  0-3 months (newborns), 3-6 months, 6-9 months, and 9-12 months.

To get started, here are some things you should know about sleep for babies 3 months and older:

  • Good naps equal good night time sleep and vice versa (it’s a circle)
  • Overtired babies sleep worse (both at naps and nighttime)
  • Keeping your baby awake for longer periods of time will not result in a longer/better nap, it will actually worsen it
  • Your baby’s sleep environment can play a major factor on quality of sleep.  Here are some ideas/tips for creating a sleep-inducing environment:
    • Block out the sun by covering windows with black-out curtains or black trash bags.  I have personally used industrial strength clean-up bags (trash bags) and they work great.  This is an especially helpful tip during the summer when the sun is up when your baby is being put down to bed or when the sun is coming up before your baby should be awake.
    • Use white noise.  This helps recreate the sounds of the womb and is also very great at drowning out the rest of the house.  Sound machines (available for purchase at many baby stores and online) and CDs with ocean noises and the like are popular white noise sources.  *When purchasing a sound machine look for one that will not turn off after a set amount of time, lights are optional or nonexistent, and can be battery operated or plugged in.
    • Most babies sleep well with the room temperature between 68-72 ºF.  Keeping the room too warm is a SIDS contributor.  Dr. Sears recommends 70º F (see link below).
    • Use cozy sheets, such as flannel.  Plain cotton sheets are not very cozy and are cool to the touch, which can contribute to baby awakening when you lay him/her down.
    • Nap time and bed time routines are very helpful.  Elizabeth Pantley suggests beginning your baby’s wind down period an hour before you would like him/her to be asleep.  That’s not to say that bedtime routine has to begin an hour before, but you can begin to set the stage for sleep an hour before.  Around 30 minutes before bed, try a warm bath, followed by fresh diaper, lotion, pi’s and nursing/bottle (unless you’re trying to break a nursing/ bottle to sleep association).  Complete the after bath routine in the room baby will be sleeping in with low lights, fading to dark during the last step.  Nap time routines can be as short as 5 -10 minutes – simply turning on white noise, shutting blinds, etc. is enough of a nap routine.
    • When beginning to correct any sleep issues, charting your baby’s tired times (before bed and naps) may be helpful.  Elizabeth Pantley’s printable nap time and bed time routine logs may be of interest to you.  *When I was searching for sleep issue help, I took some of her ideas and made my own spreadsheet that made a little better since to me and had some different info on it.  For example, these two logs don’t have a place for you to write when you noticed baby’s tired signs and I really wanted that on my chart).
    • Speaking of baby’s tired signs.  Learn them!!
    • When baby shows signs of tiredness, try to get him/her to bed within 10 minutes.  You should already have completed your bedtime/nap time routine before his/ her tired signs.  *This is where charting comes in handy.  When you learn baby’s tired time, you can plan on completing sleep routine right before.

Other resources for best sleep:

 

The more I read forums and talk to other parents, it’s apparent to me that there are a lot of misconceptions about baby sleep and honestly a lot of fairly simple solutions.  Not that all are simple and maybe even less simply applied!  Feel free to contact me, I will get back to you as soon as I can.  I love helping families get better rest and am loving learning more and more every day about baby sleep.

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