Quick tips to sleep shaping (2-4 months)
Last week we focused on sleep shaping for newborns, once that initial foundation is set, here is what you can do when your baby is 2-4 months old to really get them ready for sleep training.
Now that you have introduced the crib into your child’s sleeping routine, it’s time to start using it more and more. The idea is by the time they are 4 months old, they are using the crib for all of their night sleep and most of their naps. Be sure to research safe sleeping tips for cribs, the best information can be found on The American Academy of Pediatrics website.
Starting as early as you can, create the optimal sleep setting for your baby. This should include keeping the nursery at a cool 68-70 degrees, using white noise and installing black out curtains. Melatonin is they key regulator of your child’s sleep cycle, the cool temperature and total darkness help to facilitate the release of melatonin making it easier for them to hit their naturally occurring nap sleep waves.
Now that you have established a soothing routine and a bedtime routine, begin practicing these as often as you can. Day sleep will start to become more organized and at around 3 months, your baby should be napping 4-5 times per day. They will also be able to tolerate longer wakeful periods of up to 1.5 hours. While there schedule will vary, the closer they get to 4 months, the more organized everything will become. During the 2-4 month period, depend on their sleepy cues to set their nap times. Since you have already identified those using the newborn-8 week tips :), it should become relatively easy to tell when they need to go down and have them in their crib before they become overtired. You will know when you have missed their sleepy cues and sleep window, their cortisol levels will escalate and the dreaded “meltdown” will begin. We want to avoid that. Once they hit 4 months, you can begin using the clock to dictate their schedule.
Start to experiment with different nap times and note that there are certain times of day when they nap better than others. When they hit 4 months, their first nap will be at 9am and it is the most important nap of the day for them, it’s mentally restorative and will be their first nap to lengthen past the time of their average sleep cycle.
Bedtime will start to become earlier and earlier, inching it’s way from around 10pm at 2 months to around 7-8 for the 3-4 month range. When they are on the younger end of this spectrum, use their sleepy cues and awake time windows to put them to bed, when they hit 4 months, just like with naps, you can begin to use the clock to put them down.
This is a great age range to start to implement healthy sleep shaping habits. If you instill these habits early, you will have paved your way to having an excellent sleeper! There is no reason why your child can’t be sleeping through the night every night, by the age of 4-5 months. And when I say through the night, I’m talking 7pm-7am.
Stay tuned for next week’s free tips on sleep waves, melatonin production, circadian rhythms and why certain sleep times are more biologically beneficial than others!