If you're a parent you probably already know that babies love waking through the night. And in the moment, it may seem like your little one is never going to sleep. But, there's a lot you can do to help her along. And, the truth is, the sooner you start working to build good sleep habits for your infant, the better off she's going to be in the long run. Getting a good night's sleep is essential for growing, learning, and being happy and content. Here are a few ways that you can work to make it easier for your child—and you—to get a good night's sleep.
You might be tempted to decorate the pants off of your nursery and pack it chock full of as many things as you can, but that's actually not great for your child's sleep habits. The more your child has to get distracted by (whether it's sounds, lights or moving parts), the harder it will be to go to bed. Try and keep your baby's room as distraction-free as possible.
To help to teach your child that beds are for sleeping, not for recreation, try and avoid putting them in the crib unless you are actively trying to get them to go to sleep. You should also avoid keeping toys (aside from comfort objects) in your baby's crib.
Routines are the best thing you can set up—for both yourself and your child. Setting a sleep routine helps to train your child's circadian rhythm to fall asleep at around the same time and wake up at the same time. This will make it easier for them to get high-quality sleep and make it easier for you to snag a nap, too.
Turning on the TV might seem like the easiest thing to do when you have a cranky infant because it captures their attention in a way that nothing else can, but that can be a big problem—particularly if the reason they are cranky is because they are fighting sleep. TVs, phones and other electronics emit blue spectrum light that tells the brain to pay attention to it. It can also keep the watcher awake, especially young kids, for longer than you might expect. It's best to avoid screen time right before your baby needs to bed.
If your baby is really struggling to sleep and you can't figure out why, talk to your pediatrician. There is absolutely no shame in making sure there isn't anything going wrong that you don't know about, or in asking for help in finding other ways to help your child get to sleep. It will make life a lot happier, healthier and easier.
About the author: Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king-size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.