You want that hour—nay, you need that hour—for your babe to sleep, and a nap for yourself sounds pretty good too. So how do you make the magic happen? Here are four ways to help your little one snooze soundly.
1. Set a Routine
The key is to start young, but not too young, says Michael Dickinson, MD, chief of pediatrics for New Brunswick’s Miramichi Regional Hospital. “Usually between six to 12 months of age is when parents can start to develop good sleeping habits in their children,” he says.
2. Put Them Down Awake
Yup, you read that right. This way, children learn how to soothe themselves to sleep, which is handy if they wake up just 10 minutes into the much-needed nap thanks to your neighbour and his lawnmower. “Teaching kids to learn how to fall asleep by themselves is a critical skill for sleeping through the night later on,” adds Dr. Dickinson. That said, make sure you’ve seen some signs of sleepiness in them before you put them down—think eye rubs or the drowsy nod.
Read more: Busting the 5 Biggest Baby Sleep Myths
3. Set the Scene
Babies, like adults, sleep well in quiet, dark rooms. So use some sleep setting helpers such as blackout blinds or curtains, or white noise provided by fans or cool-mist humidifiers, to create a sleep-friendly environment.
4. Stick to That Schedule
Have a schedule that’s as predictable as possible, suggests Dr. Dickinson. “If you’re doing a two-nap schedule, keep the timing of the naps the same more or less each day. Avoid one nap today, two naps tomorrow, or ‘today we did it at 1 p.m. but tomorrow they nap at 3 p.m.’ The body learns to cycle and get into the rhythm, so being predictable is helpful.”
Tip: If your baby is in child care during the week, on weekends try to stick to the schedule your caregiver has set in the name of consistency.
This story is part of our New Baby Guide. Check it out for more info on bringing home, planning for and surviving having a new baby.