How do you know when your child is ready for sleep? Do you watch the clock? Do you follow a routine?
Get to know your baby
The most important thing to do when you first come home from the hospital with your brand-new baby, is to get to know your baby. Take the time to sit and watch them. Watch how they move, how they stretch, how they squirm, grimace or smile and the different types of noises they make – who would’ve thought babies are NOISY!!! (Especially when they’re next to your bed sleeping in their bassinet and you hear every single snort and snuffle!!! Aarghhh!!!).
Co-ordinate that (your knowledge of your baby’s body language), with what has previously happened in your day - have they just been fed? Have they been up for a while? Or have they just woken up.
What is your baby’s behaviour trying to tell you?
All babies show tired signs and it’s our job to recognise them. Sometimes they’re so vague that we miss them. Sometimes they can be as vague as the baby frowning. Having jerky movements with their little arms and legs going (like they’re in a boxing match) is the most obvious one which is often accompanied with a whingy-type cry, or maybe they’re more fidgety than normal.
Some parents have reported a red waterline under the eyes - or red eyebrows? Averting the gaze is another one, especially if you have been having an indepth “conversation” with your baby gazing into your eyes and then all of a sudden they look away, or pulling at their ears? But I think one of the earliest signs can be when your baby appears bored -STOP!! Right there, this is your baby showing you that they’re tired – no , they don’t need to change position or have another toy shaken in their face – they are tired! So…bedtime!
Signs changing with age
As the baby gets older (around 7 months), their tired signs become more obvious – rubbing their eyes and yawning. Yawning by itself though is not a conclusive tired sign, and needs to be accompanied with another sign for you to know that your baby is tired. I always talk about babies being unique, that’s why I feel that when you try and follow a schedule, you’re only getting half the story, one that’s been generalised for the population of babies, and therefore sometimes it doesn’t work for you and your family.
That’s why I’m a BIG promoter of watching your baby and following what their body language is telling you. The baby’s body language is their way of communicating with you, as obviously they don’t have words, and can’t say “hey Mum, I’m tired!”
A changing schedule
Depending on their activities for the day, or how their previous night sleep went, you’ll find their day sleeps will change time. Nothing wrong with that! It just means you have to try and be spontaneous with your routine and when your baby tells you their tired (showing tired signs) then you put them to bed. It doesn’t matter if they’ve only been awake for 30mins and they start to show you tired signs, you put them to bed.
Or it’s been 2 hrs and they show tired signs, you ….. put them to bed! Remember the baby is trying to communicate with you, and they know when they’re tired! So…….my take home message here – watch your baby’s body language and tired signs rather than following a schedule.
Article supplied by Monique Christidis from Baa Baa Baby