Ritual, Routine and Consistency: How to Get Back on Track After a Summer of Fun
Guest article by Sarah Healy (Middelton), child sleep expert. Sarah teaches and works privately with families who are in need of help with various issues surrounding sleep and post-partum adjustment.
I hope your summer was filled with adventure and fun! Along with travel and adventure come regressions due to new time zones and sleeping arrangements. Often, what can happen is that babies regress during times like these when many of the sleep rules are bent. If your little one seems out of sort, fret not, it is possible to help them sleep well again.
The following are some suggestions for noting their sleepy cues and also helping them to re-establish good sleeping habits and get back on track. These can be used for both pre-bedtime as well as pre-nap time routines.
- Be sure to watch for signs that your baby is giving you that he/she is getting tired. If you time it right, you will put them down in the right window when their body is physiologically primed to fall asleep, making it much easier to go down. If you push them too far, they will often struggle to go down or pop up soon after falling asleep.
Early Signs of tiredness include:
- rubbing eyes or nose
- red eye brows
- stiffness or arching body
- fussing, whining, crying
- seeking comfort sucking or feeding
- gaze avert
Later signs of tiredness include:
- Lots of yawning
- Begin a consistent and regular sleep routine that involves low lights, quiet voices and simple play. This can be a bath, a massage, or simply reading quietly in his or her room. Some babies habituate to a certain song or lullaby, or the sound of the white noise machine coming on. While you are doing this, please be sure to take some slow deep breaths yourself as your ability to calm and get present will send signals to your little one that will help him or her to calm their central nervous system.
- If you have a little one who is at the age where he or she understands your words well, you can also begin to talk to them about the things that are coming up for the sleep routine ie: "First we are going to take a bath, and then we are going to read some books and then it is night-night time."
- Be sure to re-establish the sleep routine in a way that has your child going into his/her crib drowsy but awake so that they learn to put themselves to sleep using their own self soothing mechanisms.
Remember that bedtime is determined from when they wake from their last nap and this usually falls between 6:30–8:30 pm.
- Be consistent. More than anything this will be important.
Over the summertime, your little one got used to late nights, lots of visitors and festive events. With this often comes later bedtimes and falling asleep in the car seat or in someones arms. Once this happens, babies begin to reply on that method in order to fall asleep. Now that you are re-establishing a healthy sleep routine, it is important to be calm and consistent about helping your little one self soothe and put herself to sleep.
This new routine can take 3–5 nights before seeing results so stay with it and remember that your little one knows how to sleep and can do it again.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call or email with questions.
Sarah Healy (Middelton) is one of only a handful of sleep consultants in the US personally trained in the Millette Method—a research based, holistic, and compassionate approach to infant and toddler sleep. Sarah is a a mother of two girls who were challenging sleepers as babies and who are the reason for her commitment to this work. Sarah teaches and works privately with families who are in need of help with various issues surrounding sleep and post-partum adjustment. You can contact Sarah at www.sarahhealysleep.com.
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