I struggled to get both of my twins to sleep for the first couple of months. I remember having many sleepless nights as one twin woke up, needing to be fed, and then the other twin woke up an hour later, crying for his milk too. I was like a walking zombie. It was getting to the point that I couldn’t concentrate on anything; my twins were controlling the sleeping pattern of everyone in my house.
Until one fine day, my neighbour came along and shared with me about the beauty of sleep training. Yes it’s a thing! It turned out we were accustomed that sleeping is something that our children could learn on their own but hey we are on 21st century now and sleep system, advice and information is now easily accessible.
So, I started pouring myself into countless sleep training books, to try and figure out how to get my twins to fall asleep on their own, stay asleep and sleep through the night. And, here are the 5 things I wished I knew about baby’s sleep before my twins were born.
Babies are only capable of learning what we teach them
I believe the kindest thing you can do for your baby is to teach her to self-settle from day one. If you never let go of the bike, your child will never learn to ride the bike. The same goes for sleep, if you never let go of helping your child to fall asleep, either by rocking or nursing your baby to sleep, your child will never be able to fall asleep on her own without your help.
Sleeping is like any other science, we can understand and study
Two key hormones, melatonin and cortisol, control our capability to sleep properly; an imbalance in either will unfortunately result in irregular sleeping patterns. Melatonin, which is produced in darkness, regulates sleep by telling the body it’s nighttime. Cortisol is a hormone that our body has to allow us to stay awake during the day.
Unfortunately, this hormone is created in higher amounts when the body is overtired and sleep deprived. So when your child is not getting enough naps and having a broken sleep at night, their body will produce a lot more cortisol, making it harder for them to fall asleep easily or stay asleep. You can try to keep your baby’s cortisol levels low by giving them ample amount of daytime naps, which will assist in reducing regular night waking and early rising.
It’s not our job to make baby sleep
Do not rely on any form of sleep props to help your child fall asleep. It’s not our job to help them fall asleep. Our job is to put them down in bed before they are overtired. If you have been letting your child fall asleep consistently without rocking, feeding, bouncing or patting, then I am quite certain you will not have any issues getting your baby to sleep well.
Babies love routine!
The best advice I was given is to establish a routine for my twins. Without routine, life would be a chaotic mess without any sense of direction. Babies thrive on structure and routine and they like know what to expect.
It’s easy to establish a routine. Just follow the EASY cycle during the day: Eat, Activity, Sleep, Your time. Make sure you don’t feed your baby to sleep; instead you should encourage full feeding once your baby is awake. Watch the clock as babies of different ages can only be awake for a certain time before they start getting overtired. If you are able to maintain a sleep and feed log, it will assist you in sustaining an effective routine. Routine helps bring order to your baby’s day.
A sleep plan will make all the difference.
Want to make baby sleep? Then you need a sleep plan. The first component of a sleep plan is getting your child to go to bed early. This ensures that your child is able to go to bed before becoming overtired and miserable, or too hyperactive. You can start by trying an earlier bedtime between 6.30-8.00pm or find a bedtime that works best for your child.
The second component is creating a fun and relaxing bedtime routine, helping your child naturally transition from day to night. As babies thrive on predictability, having a nightly consistent bedtime routine 20-30 minutes long that is soothing and pleasant will increase melatonin production, easily sending your baby off into slumber land.
I must admit, it was rough for the first few months with my twins being a clueless first time mum so I wished someone had told me the above. Once I figured out the perfect system for my twins, everything was smooth sailing from then on. A few years later, along came my third and fourth babies and by this time I had developed a sixth sense for what babies need to learn to sleep successfully.
Being consistent is key in contributing to fostering healthy sleep habits for my babies. Learning to sleep well is a wonderful skill and it is the best lifelong gift that you can give to your child, along with creating a loving home with a well-rested child, and well-rested parents.
“Sleep Supernanny” Zoe Chu is a renowned baby and child sleep expert, an author and a parenting speaker. She founded SG Supernanny to help transformed the lives of many tired and sleep deprived families around the world through her 5 steps baby sleep system. For more great sleep and parenting tips, follow Zoe in Instagram or Facebook and visit her blog https://sgsupernanny.com
Cover picture credit: Designed by Freepic.diller