The Magic Behind It All

September, the time to get back into a routine as we settle in for fall…
Almost everyone I speak to has implemented some kind of bedtime routine for their child. This is great place to start because your child needs to have a predictable and consistent bedtime routine.  The steps in the bedtime routine are the cues to signal to your child that bedtime is coming.  It helps prepare their body for sleep.

When you want a child to sleep well throughout the night, you always need to start with the bedtime routine.  And the number one goal of the routine is to ensure your child has not started his journey to sleep before you place him in bed. He needs to be placed in the crib wide awake. This is where the magic happens! 

The most common place where a baby gets drowsy or actually falls right asleep during the routine is during the bedtime feed. This can interfere greatly with nighttime sleep.  Falling asleep outside of the crib is problematic. If it happens while feeding this means the baby has a feed sleep association and depends on feeding to go to sleep. This interferes with their own innate ability to sleep well.   If your baby falls asleep while feeding, when your baby wakes in the night, the last thing he remembers is laying in mom’s arms nursing or having his bottle.  He has no idea how he got in the crib and he definitely can not go back to sleep on his own, as he was not given he chance to do so in the beginning.

And if your baby falls asleep feeding, then you put him down in the crib and he wakes up right away, he has to fall asleep for a second time.  And we all know how hard that is to do!

After a baby reaches the 10 week mark, it is always best to move the feed to the first step in the routine, about 30-40 minutes before you want to put baby in the crib. You want feeding to be for feeding, not to put baby to sleep. Do the feed, then bath, jammies and a song or story and then into bed. That will really help break any association that baby has with feeding and sleeping.

You may get some protest for the first few nights while making the change. Hang in there! After a few nights of being consistent, he will be falling asleep peacefully in his crib.

Does My Baby Need to Eat During the Night?

“My daughter is five months old, and wakes to eat every two hours. Is it OK to not feed her?” Well, the short answer is yes. It is OK not to feed her. When we look at this, eating every two hours is similar to what a newborn would need.

With her being five-months-old, there’s really no reason why, unless she’s having some serious health issues. But apart from that, there’s really no reason why she is needing to wake up every two hours for a feed. What I really want you to look at is how she gets to sleep at bedtime.

I always tell people, the first place to look is bedtime. What’s going on there? My guess is that she’s bottle feeding or nursing herself to sleep at bedtime, and then you transfer her to the crib.

What happens then is that a baby believes that a bottle or breast is the fastest and best way to get into sleep. It’s not a matter of hunger. It’s more a strategy for getting to sleep, as they do not know any other way. When she has a wake up in the night, her response is to cry, mostly like, have you come, and recreate the sequence of events that happen to get her to sleep in the first place.

This is a strategy issue. She’s using that bottle or breast through the night to get herself back to sleep. The good news around all of this, is that this is a fairly easy fix. If we get her falling asleep independently at bedtime, not allowing her to fall asleep on the bottle or breast, that’s going to solve a lot of these night wakings because she’s going to learn how to get to sleep.

If she has any kind of wake up in the night, she should be able to start handling this more herself, and relying less and less on the bottle or breast. I would encourage you to start there. Let’s get this baby sleeping through the night, because really, given her age, there’s no reason why she can’t be sleeping a solid 10 to 12 hours a night. That’s the good news there.

Sounds like a great idea, but many parents are unsure of how to get their baby falling asleep on their own. First ensure that baby is not getting sleepy during the bedtime feed, the easiest way to do this is to move the feed to the beginning of the bedtime routine, yes even before bath. At about 3 months, I always move the feed to the beginning of the routine.

Babies become metabolically capable of beginning to sleep through the night at approximately around 13 pounds and 3 months. When I work with a baby, I always take it case by case for babies between 3-6 months if we are going to cut out all night feeds.

With every single child I  work with our goal is always to get them falling asleep independently at bedtime. This is where all the magic happens!