Sleep training at 12 weeks
Your baby is 12 weeks old…Where did the time go? At this age, your little one is going through incredible transformations and rapid development (1). Just as you are getting used to sleeping a little more and for a longer period of time, heads up, your baby is now likely to go through a growth spurt.
When babies go through development milestones (2) or growth spurts, their little bodies are working extra hard. They might wake up more frequently to feed, or they may want to eat larger amounts and more often, or they might seem a bit more restless than usual. However, they will also need to sleep more. There is nothing you can do about it, as it is a natural milestone that every baby goes through. Some babies won’t show signs of going through this growth spurt, while others will definitely be affected by it. It is the beauty of life, and we have to roll with it!
By 12 weeks old, your baby is probably sleeping 12 hours at night, broken up by two or three feeds between their bedtime and when they wake up. They’ll also be taking about three to four naps a day, of varying lengths. You’ve probably begun to notice a sleep pattern, so it is recommended to start to introduce a routine. You can start to create a routine for your baby as early as a few weeks old! It’s worth doing while they are little, so they get used to the idea of going to bed at certain times during the day. Their circadian rhythm, our internal clock, is starting to be established, another reason to put them down roughly at the same time for naps and night time.
Babies and toddlers need regular daytime sleep (3) in order to sleep well at night. If they get over-tired, they actually have a harder time to settle at night. I know it sounds funny, doesn’t it? It will be harder for your baby to go down at bedtime and they might wake up more often at night.
It’s too early to start sleep training at 12 weeks old. BUT it is not too early to foster great sleeping habits and to create healthy sleep routines. Here are a few steps you can start to implement now:
Sleep training at 12 weeks old
1- Always put your baby on their back to sleep and make sure there are no fluffy blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the crib.
2- Try to put your baby down in their crib at least once a day. This is a great time to introduce the crib for naps and to stop using the swings, bouncers, etc. to put her to sleep.
3- Look at your baby’s sleepy signs, such as; rubbing eyes, pulling ears, zoned-out stare, fussiness, etc. Look at the clock. BUT don’t swear by it either. The clock is a tool to help you create a schedule. Being in sync with your baby’s sleepy cues is more important. They should be awake for an hour, more or less, between each nap. If you miss your baby’s sleepy signs, they will become over tired and will have a hard time to fall asleep.
4- Because they are more aware of their surroundings, they need more than ever, to start to use their self-soothing skills to fall asleep. It will become more difficult to fall asleep on their own and they might need your help. It is at that point that most families start to need sleep guidance because they don’t know how to support their baby’s need. It is often around 12-18 weeks of age that sleep starts to regress. Teaching self-soothing skills to your baby is the best thing you can do to create healthy sleeping habits. You will also benefit from it, because once they are sleeping through the night, you will sleep like a baby yourself!
5- Create a soothing, predictable and consistent bedtime routine, that is the same every time. Take a bath, play a song, read a book, sing a song, do a massage, use essential oils etc.…If you have a consistent routine, your baby will eventually know what’s going to happen next…bedtime!
6- Put her down when she is drowsy but awake. Refrain from the temptation to put her down completely asleep. The goal is for them to learn how to put themselves to sleep without your help.
7- Encourage your baby to practice self-soothing skills. Don’t rush into the room as soon as they squirm. Give them a chance to learn how to fall asleep unassisted and to find their own way to self-sooth. This is sooooo important!
8- At 12 weeks of age, more or less, your baby may start to go to bed earlier at bedtime. Nap times are still very erratic and inconsistent. It might be very frustrating, I know it! In a few weeks though, she will be able to sleep for longer periods of time, she will be able to self-soothe and they will be able to sleep for even longer periods of time! Hang in there moms and dads. You got this!
9- Remember…whatever you do to help your baby to fall asleep, don’t do too much to help them fall asleep. It takes a few nights for your baby to realize you can put them to sleep and that they don’t need to work for it. I know you may be tired and all you want is for them to fall asleep quickly and you want to help them. I totally understand that, I think every parent goes through that. But trust me… in the long run, it will be more difficult for you, and less sleep for everyone if you try to help them go to sleep. If you spend some time now to show your baby how they can fall asleep on their own, the better your life will get! You will get some rest, have more time for yourself and your baby will be learning a lifelong skill! It’s a win-win!
Sleep training at 12 weeks old may be too soon, but there are so many things you can implement in your routine to create a solid sleep foundation for your baby. It is not only healthy for your baby, but it is also fundamental for the parents to get some “ME” time. A well-balanced life is key to survival with or without kids!
As Always, Sleeping Babies=Happy Families
Much Love, Eve