Babies are born with a blank slate in regards to a sleep schedule. They don't know when it is time to take a nap or go to bed for the night. They don't know that their parents want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. This can be the most difficult part of being a parent, as we need sleep to retain our sanity. Putting your baby on a sleep schedule will help ease you through these difficult times.
The most important part of establishing a sleep schedule is having a bedtime routine. Unlike adults, babies can't tell time by a clock. The only way they know what time of the day it is is by cues from you. The bedtime routine should be started at the same time every day. It should be non-stimulating and relaxing for you, too, as a baby can pick up on your vibes.
An ideal sleep schedule begins with a relaxing bath. Make sure the water isn't too warm, but warm enough to prevent your baby from getting chills. You can either take a bath with your baby, which is a great bonding moment, or perform a sink bath. Many baby bath products are made with calming scents, such as lavender and vanilla, and are a great addition to a bath time routine.
Follow up the bath with an infant massage. This is a wonderful way to help your baby relax and establish a sleep schedule. It can also assist with building trust and establishing a bond between you and your baby. Use a calming lotion and make sure the room is warm,
Dress your baby in his pajamas to let him know it is bedtime. Eventually he will learn to recognize that pajamas mean it is time to sleep through the night. This won't happen right away but eventually, with consistency, he will be on a sleep schedule and will sleep soundly all night.
Feed your baby before putting her to bed. Make sure she isn't overstuffed, to prevent an upset stomach, but she should be satisfied. Hunger is the number one reason that babies wake up at night. In the beginning, most newborn babies will wake up to eat as their stomach is still very small.
Lay your baby in his bed, still awake, but drowsy. This will teach him to put himself to sleep should he awaken in the middle of the night. If she cries, let her know you are still there by rubbing her back, then leave the room again. She may cry a couple of minutes the first few nights but when she learns you are always there, she will go right to sleep. Patience and consistency are important in establishing a sleep schedule.