Laying the Foundation for Healthy Sleep by Caroline Griswold
Sleep is one of the most challenging and tender things we deal with as parents, because of course how our baby is sleeping determines how we are sleeping. I think we also recognize how vulnerable we are in sleep, and we want our little ones to feel safe and cared for.
In your baby’s first few months of life, they are still adjusting to sleeping at night vs. during the day, and without being lulled by the movement and sounds of your body. However, there are a number of things you can do to lay the groundwork for helping your baby learn to sleep better later. Here are a couple to try:
Put your baby down (sometimes). Sometimes we tell ourselves that our baby can’t or won’t sleep without being held, and certainly some babies seem to “need” holding more than others. If you’re used to holding them for every nap or even throughout the night, little by little see if you can put him down for even a few minutes of each rest period. Start with what feels like the last five minutes of his nap, and then gradually increase the time until you can put them down sooner and sooner. The goal is to, over time, be able to put them down before they are fully asleep.
Don’t move (as much). Babies love movement, so we often get in the habit of rocking, bouncing, or jiggling them to sleep. Sometimes we even do this when they’re not fussy or needing a rest. I encourage you to (again, slowly) ease off the movement so that your baby can gradually learn to sleep without it. You can start by noticing when you’re bouncing or rocking when they are peaceful and calm, and do a little less. Then, over time, try doing a bit less during their fussier or sleepier periods.
These tiny tweaks can help set your baby up for smoother sleep learning in the months to come.
Caroline is a respectful-parenting educator and coach. She helps parents find greater joy and connection with their children and grow into their parenting with grace, insight, and humor. You can learn more about her at fertilegroundparenting.com.