If you haven’t already noticed, I’m kind of obsessed with sleep. Not just for myself, but for my kids too. Sleep is like my favorite thing to do. Sounds so sad saying that. But I just love to sleep. I think my mom napped me often as a baby since I was the third so she could get things done around the house while my older brothers were at school. Either way, I truly enjoy my sleep and I’m super cranky when I don’t get it.
Anyways, I quickly learned that a sleeping baby is the ultimate mommy reward. But that reward is truly divine when the sleep happens at appropriate times. A baby nap during a nursing session or a trip to the grocery store isn’t truly a reward because the baby is going to be woken up like it or not. But a nap in a crib is like listening to angels singing. All seems well in your world of mommyhood when your baby sleeps at the right time. Let’s be honest though, how often does that happen in the beginning, or for some ever?
If there’s one parenting badge that I’m proud of earning, it’s the badge of sleep. I successfully trained all 3 girls to sleep through the night before 3 months of age. And through the night in my book means 7/8pm to 6/7am. L was pulling all nighters exactly at 3 months; M at 10 weeks; and baby H at 6 weeks. Yes folks, they got better and better. We totally worked out the kinks by the third kid. Now 7.5 years into my journey of mommyhood, I am only woken up at night for reasons such as growing pains or bad dreams – never because they just couldn’t or wouldn’t go to sleep.
Believe me I’m far from an expert though. I had loads of help along the way – sleep books, sound machines, a multitude of sleepsacks, and tips from family and friends. But after three kids, I’ve figured it out. If there’s one critical piece of advice I’ve learned it’s this….ROUTINE! I’m gonna say it again because it’s so important. ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE. You can’t vary from the routine. Babies are like dogs in some respects. They learn from repetitive behaviors – remember Pavlov’s dog from like 6th grade science class. The more you repeat the same action, the brain starts to anticipate the result. And then the lightbulb moment goes on, and sleep is upon you.
So, I’m going to end the first chapter of this baby sleep blog series with this tip. If you haven’t already established a bedtime routine for you baby or toddler or preschooler (this applies to all ages), start one today. It’s never too late. Here’s our routine, it’s worked x3. Bath, Bottle, Book, and Bed. It’s simple but it works. A routine – any routine- is so important in the first step of sleep training your child. And Dorothy…don’t go off the yellow brick road. You must stick to it – no matter what!
My Mama’s Mantra: Pavlov’s dog training isn’t just for dogs, it’s for babies too! Establish a nightly routine for your baby. It’s the first step towards sweet dreams all night long.