It’s crucial for babies to sleep earlier and get more sleep for their rapid cognitive and physical development. To accomplish this, the key is to establish a clear routine so that when it’s bedtime, your baby will fall asleep easily and make it likely that he/she will sleep through the night.
However, babies don’t have a clue yet if it’s bedtime already. They might still don’t know the difference between daytime and night-time (and if night-time is indeed the time for more sleep). As parents, it’s our job to teach them the difference and “condition” them that bedtime is approaching already.
To make that happen, it’s good to do a few things to emphasise the difference between daytime and night-time. For example, at daytime it’s good to open most of the curtains (let more of the natural light to come in) and pack all the playtime during those hours. Then, at night-time, the lights should be dim (or some should be turned off). Also, there should be no playtime in these hours and that your home should be quiet already (e.g. keep your voice low and quiet).
The goal is to teach your baby that night-time is the time for rest and sleep (and that daytime is for play). Gradually, your baby will learn that and get into a more predictable sleeping pattern (e.g. around 9pm your child will fall asleep). This predictability will make his/her energy levels match the hours of the day or night (high energy levels at daytime and gradually becoming low when night-time approaches).
Aside from emphasising the difference between night and day, it’s also good to establish a bedtime routine. This includes reading a bedtime story, singing a lullaby and giving a goodnight kiss. The goal here is to wind down and get calm (no to stimulating activities). It’s important here to stay consistent so that for your baby everything’s smooth and predictable.
This routine will also help you get more rest and sleep. At night-time, you’ll also get to slow down and get calm (this means not much stimulating activities for you too). Aside from getting more sleep, this will also help you gain a more consistent or predictable energy level (e.g. your energy levels will also get low as night-time approaches and you get to stay active in the daytime).
Even with a good routine, there will still be nights when your child will wake up repeatedly. His/her sleep (as well as your own) will be interrupted which can make it hard for both of you (and as a result you and your baby will always feel tired for days). In these situations, it’s good to have someone to assist you especially when the cause of your baby’s interrupted sleep is hunger or a dirty nappy. Your partner, friend or relative can instead do the nappy changing while you’re catching up on sleep.
It’s important here that both you and your baby get enough sleep. Still expect some or several disturbed nights especially if your baby is 0 to 3 months old. But as much as possible, it’s good to get enough rest for you and your child’s health. This way, you’ll always be in the best condition to care for your child and attend to his/her needs. In addition, your child will benefit because a longer sleep each night will help with his/her proper physical and brain development.