New Year’s Resolution: Baby Sleep Training & Your Baby’s Internal Clock

Written by Cathy Hale on January 31st, 2017

You know you’re living the #MomLife if you rang in the New Year by changing a dirty diaper while wearing a shirt with spit-up on it and trying to soothe your cranky baby to sleep thanks to your neighbors who launched fireworks at midnight.

A new year means a fresh start and the chance to make improvements in 2017. If you’ve resolved to get more sleep this year, you need to find a sleep schedule that works for both you and your baby. This is when the topic of sleep training your baby is important: Is it possible to train your baby to go to sleep? Have you adopted the right approach? How in the world do you do it?

When it comes to babies and sleep, most parents have the same questions. “Why won’t my baby sleep?” “How do I get my baby to sleep?” “Why does my baby wake up crying?” This is especially true for new parents who are experiencing life with a newborn. One thing that may help you feel at ease is better understanding your newborn’s sleep patterns

Did you know?

From birth through the first four months, infants often get their days and nights mixed up, which can be exhausting for parents.  They sleep for long stretches during the day and take short naps at night.  If your baby is also eating more at night than during the day, this is probably what’s happening.

We all have internal clocks that exist in nerve cells in the brain just above the optic nerve. These cells are responsible for physical, mental and behavioral changes. For example, our bodies relax and get sleepy when it’s dark. The opposite occurs in bright light.

An infant is born with an internal biological clock, but it’s not mature until she’s about four months old. Think about how you feel when you are jet-lagged or if you’ve stayed up all night and then tried to function normally during the day. It’s exhausting! And chances are, if crying about how bad you feel was socially acceptable, you would do it! 

Your body naturally wants to sleep at appropriate times because that’s when you get the most restorative sleep. Let’s say you went to sleep at 5 p.m. and slept until 1 a.m. the next day. Woohoo! You got eight hours of sleep. But what if you were then awake from 1 a.m. until dinner time the next day? You would probably feel awful because it goes against your natural sleep rhythms.

Now let’s revisit the idea of sleep training. Can you sleep train your baby?

If your baby is under four months old, you might not see immediate results, but there are some steps you can take to help her sleep better at night. Make sure daytime is bright and cheery with plenty of noise stimulation. Nighttime should be quiet, dark and soothing. Start dimming lights in the early evening and use blackout shades if needed.

When your baby reaches two months old, do your best to establish both a feeding and a sleep routine. Try to start feeding her more during the day, so she has a full tummy at bedtime. If you can feed her dinner at the same time each night and try to put her down to sleep at the same time each night, that’s a step in the right direction. 

Remember, sometimes your routine works and sometimes it doesn’t. Give yourself and your baby the flexibility you need to adjust and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  Her cute little internal clock will be ticking correctly soon! 

If you crave more Zzz’s in 2017, check out these strategies to help your baby sleep at night.