- If you've decided sleep training isn't for you,
that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do
to help your baby sleep better.
There are still quite a few really effective ways
to dramatically improve your baby's sleep
without sleep training.
One of the simplest things that you could do
is actually just start waking your baby
or toddler within the same 30-minute window each morning.
Now I know waking a sleeping baby might sound crazy
but here's why I recommend doing this.
After six months of age,
the main force guiding your little one's sleep patterns
is their circadian rhythm,
which is also known as their internal body clock.
And the circadian rhythm actually resets every morning
and this is what dictates what time we should wake up
and when we should be asleep.
Therefore, simply starting your child's day
within the same 30-minute window each morning
will reset their circadian rhythm
and help to establish a consistent sleep pattern
without the need to sleep train.
In addition to helping your child
naturally develop a predictable bedtime and wake up time,
starting your baby's day consistently
within the same 30-minute window will also ensure
that the time of their first nap becomes consistent.
And then with time, this will help your little one
develop a predictable nap schedule.
For example, if you consistently wake your six month old
at 7:00 AM in the morning and they typically stay awake
for two hours before needing a nap,
then their first nap will consistently occur at 9:00 AM.
And then, if they usually wake after an hour,
then they will start to consistently wake up at 10:00 AM,
and then have another wake period of two hours,
and go down for their second nap at 12:00 PM and so on.
So as you can see, having a consistent wake up time
will help your little one
fall into a predictable nap schedule.
Another way to instantly improve your baby's sleep
is to follow their lead.
And by that, I mean notice and respond to their tired signs
rather than the time on the physical clock or wake windows.
Although it is helpful to know age-specific wake windows,
which is the length of time a baby at a certain age
can typically stay awake for before needing a nap,
they are just a guide.
And this is because each baby is unique
and the length of time that they can actually stay awake for
is dependent on the length of their previous nap.
Therefore, noticing and responding to their tired signs
is a better indicator of when your baby
is truly tired and requiring sleep.
For example, the wake window of a six-month-old baby
is two to two and a half hours.
But if your baby who's six months of age
only had a 30-minute nap,
they may start yawning or rubbing their eyes
after only being awake for one and a half hours.
And at this point, indicate to you that they need a nap.
So it's more reliable to follow your baby's tired signs.
So tired signs are facial expressions
and body movements that all babies, including newborns,
used to communicate that they're ready for sleep.
And typically babies show early tired signs.
And then if you miss those signs,
they show late tired signs.
So the early tired signs
are when your baby becomes very still or quiet.
So you may notice that your baby actually loses interest
in people or toys.
They may start staring into the distance.
They may become physically very still or quiet.
And you may also notice that they have redness
around their eyes and their eyebrow,
or they may start to become a little bit fussy.
Now, late tired signs
are when they start to squirm vigorously,
they start crying, yawning,
sucking on their fingers,
rubbing their eyes and ears,
and you may also notice
that your baby starts to have hiccups.
Ideally, you want to start getting your baby ready for sleep
when you notice their subtle early tired signs
as babies and toddlers settle to sleep better
if they're not overtired.
Now, in addition to making it easy
for your baby to actually fall asleep
when you are aware of and responding
to your baby's unique, early tired signs,
you will actually notice when your baby starts
to stretch their wake times as they get older.
And therefore, you can make those adjustments.
Now to make it easier for you to identify
your baby's unique tired signs,
make sure you click on the link
in the description box below
to get the free new parents guides to naps
to find out what the general wake windows
are for your little one
as this will give you a rough time range
on when to start paying particular attention
to your little one to identify their true tired signs.
Another simple but extremely effective way
to quickly improve your little one sleep
is start having consistent routine for naps and bedtime.
Now, babies and toddlers love routine and predictability
and having a good bedtime routine
helps to soothe and calm a baby
while letting them know that it's time to go to sleep.
In fact, research shows that babies and toddlers
who follow a bedtime routine
take less time to fall asleep,
generally stay asleep for longer,
and wake up less often during the night
than those who didn't actually follow a bedtime routine.
And what's even better is that these improvements in sleep
can be seen as early as three nights
after you actually start implementing a bedtime routine.
Now, a good bedtime routine consists of a set of activities
that occur in the same order before every sleep.
It doesn't have to be long or elaborate
but it must be consistent.
So for example, your baby's bedtime routine
might consist of walking into their bedroom,
closing the blinds, turning on the white noise machine,
putting on their sleeping bag,
reading them a short book,
and then laying them down to bed.
We also know that everyone, including babies,
find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep
in an environment which is conducive to sleep.
Simply making some small tweaks to the physical environment
has the power to drastically improve your little one's sleep
and potentially eliminate the need to sleep train.
Now, in the first six weeks of life,
the sleeping environment is not going to have a huge impact
on your baby's ability to fall asleep
as they will simply fall asleep
when their sleep pressure is high
and they are tired.
However, after six to eight weeks of age,
the pineal gland starts to produce
more of the sleepy hormone, melatonin,
in very small amounts,
and they also start to become more aware
of the world around them.
And it's at this point
that their sleeping environment starts to have an impact
on how easy it is for them to fall asleep
and then stay asleep.
If the environment is not conducive to sleep,
then your baby is more likely to have shorter naps
and take longer to fall asleep.
An environment which is conducive to sleep for any baby
has three key features.
The first one is darkness.
Darkness at night is really non-negotiable
as you want your baby to be in the dark
when they go to bed until your desired morning wake up time.
Because as we have discussed, bedtime and wake up time
is actually dictated by the circadian rhythm,
which is reset each morning by light
entering the baby's eyes.
When you actually limit the light entering their room
until that desired wake up time,
you are helping to ensure that your baby's circadian rhythm
does not start to creep forward
and lead to early morning wakes.
Keeping the room dark for daytime naps is also vital
and this is for two reasons.
Firstly, the driving force for your baby to have a nap
is actually sleep pressure.
And sleep pressure tends to be lower during the day,
which means that it's going to be more difficult
for your baby to fall asleep.
And the second reason is that daytime sleep for babies
primarily consists of REM or light sleep
which can be easily disrupted
by environmental factors like noise.
So based on these two factors, it isn't surprising
that letting your baby sleep in a dark room
will help to minimize those distractions
and make it easier for them to fall asleep.
Now the second environmental feature you want
is a cool room.
Generally, babies sleep best in room temperatures
which are mid-60's to low 70 degrees Fahrenheit
or 18 to 21 degrees Celsius.
Now, if you're unable to achieve this room temperature,
then it's important that you actually dress your baby
appropriately for the temperature of the room,
because if the room is too hot or too cold,
your little one is going to wake up easier from a nap
and they will also wake up more frequently
throughout the night.
And the third feature is a quiet room.
Now, everyone sleeps best in a quiet room.
Of course, your baby will eventually fall asleep
in a noisy environment.
However, they're going to fall asleep a lot quicker
and stay asleep for longer if the bedroom is quiet.
Now, obviously, we all live in extremely busy households,
and achieving the ideal sleep environment
can be challenging.
So make sure you check out this video next
to find out my favorite baby sleep products
which will make it possible for you
to create the environment which is conducive to sleep
and drastically improve your baby's ability to fall asleep
and stay asleep for longer.
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