How to Get Your Baby to Bed Earlier
I speak at a newborn mommy and me class a few times a month and a common question that is ALWAYS asked, is “how do I move bedtime earlier?” Most newborns (ages 0-3 months) are going to bed relatively late, anywhere from 9-11pm at night. We put them to bed this late because we want to take advantage of their longest stretch of sleep by going to bed when they do. Most moms don’t really want to crawl in bed at 7pm, so we naturally put them to bed when we do. This usually works out fine until about 3 months of age when we grow tired of the late bedtime and want some time to ourselves before we go to bed. The question becomes…but how?
Commonly I see parents putting their infant to bed at 7 and hoping for the best, even though the baby has a history of going to bed at 10:30pm. This leads to baby waking up 45-90 minutes later, wide awake, because they thought they were taking a nap.
What most babies need is a gradual shift of their bedtime. So if they were going to bed at 10:30pm, aim for a 10:15pm bedtime, then 10pm, then 9:45pm, and so forth. This will inevitably also shift everything that’s happening during the day, but most importantly what time the infant is waking for the day. If they are normally waking up at 10am for the day, then as soon as you start shifting the bedtime earlier, shift the wake up time earlier. In this example you would wake the baby at 9:45am if they are still sleeping. Alternatively if your baby was waking around 6-7am, you don’t have to do any shifting. They will naturally continue to sleep until their normal time.
Some things you’ll want in place before you start any shifting, will be a solid bedtime routine, blackout curtains, and watching awake windows. It is a MYTH to never wake a sleeping baby. Many situations call for waking a baby so they can have enough sleep pressure built up before bedtime.
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