Healthy Sleep Foundation for the Infant
Although circadian rhythms don’t mature until around 4 months of age, there are definitely ways to lay a healthy sleep foundation for your little one. For sleep purposes, we use the latter of the DOB or the EDD (estimated due date) to gauge each babies biological age. So if a baby is born prior to due date, you will use the due date as the baby’s biological age when starting the sleep foundation.
The first sleep milestone can be seen around 6-8 weeks. Some signs of this milestone are social smiles, evening fussiness subsides, day/night confusion is worked out, and the longest stretch of sleep usually comes at night (4-6 hour stretch). With these well defined periods of sleep at night and with the new socializing, we know that the baby is able to follow cues and make connections. This is the perfect time to start building a healthy sleep foundation for your baby!
1. Consistent Sleeping Space
Now is a great time to introduce the crib! You can get the baby familiar and comfortable with the crib. With that being said, it’s also a great time to start cutting back on the sleep props, such as swings, rockers, bouncy seats, car seat/rides, strollers, etc.
2. Soothing Routine
A soothing routine is a great cue to a baby that it’s time to sleep. A soothing routine will help calm and soothe the baby and help them wind down for sleep. The soothing routine is not meant to be a means of sleep because that’s the baby’s job. The soothing routine should be kept around 15 minutes and could be a combination of singing, rocking, books, nursing/bottle feeding, etc.
3. Experiment with Self Soothing
While you’re working on the soothing routine, if you see that your baby is starting to get irritable or agitated, then that’s their cue to just put them down to sleep. If you find that your baby starts falling asleep during the routine, this is also a cue that they should be placed down to sleep. If after the soothing routine your baby is calm, drowsy but awake, this is also a great time to place your baby down in the crib.
With the first sleep milestone, the bedtime will naturally become earlier. Taking the above steps will help your little one transition into this new sleep milestone and continue to build a healthy sleep foundation.
Bridget Bowling is a pediatric sleep specialist. She received her certification through the Family Sleep Institute for sleep consulting. Together, with her sister Jenny, they started Little Snoozers. They help families all over the US by creating better sleep habits and get a better nights sleep!