One very effective method for getting your baby to sleep can be keeping him awake after meals.
As any Thanksgiving will show, people generally get sleepy after eating. This happens because your blood sugar levels change and because your body pushes blood to your stomach, thus taking it away from your brain. Babies are no different.
However, letting babies fall asleep after eating creates a bad habit – it unconsciously forms a routine of only being able to fall asleep after eating. In the beginning this might not be an issue, but think about a few months from now. Do you want to have to feed baby every time she wakes up?
So what do you do instead? The secret to resetting baby’s clock and keeping her from needing you to fall back asleep is to keep her active after meals. Keep activity gentle, as you don’t want to cause her any discomfort, but be active.
Here are some great example activities to get you started:
o Play with building blocks or other simple educational toys
o Dance together, with parent holding baby and some upbeat music in the background
o Read a story together
o Do tactile games, where you are touching baby or helping her touch something
Avoid activities like these:
o Putting baby in a stroller and taking her around with you
o Watching TV together
o Putting baby in a crib or playpen to entertain herself
Use these activities to reverse a baby’s order from Eat, Sleep, Play to Eat, Play, Sleep. Doing so helps make baby independent from you and empowers her to fall asleep again on her own when she wakes in the middle of the night.
Why should you avoid the activities listed above? These aren’t really activities at all; they aren’t physical with baby, and may allow her to fall asleep even if you don’t want her to. Stick to activities that require baby to engage. The more senses you can incorporate, the better.
What if baby is already used to eating before sleep? Breaking the cycle is a process, not a one-day solution, so be patient. We will talk about this later in the guide, but a good way to transition baby from the routine of falling asleep while feeding or just after feeding is to ensure that she is awake in her crib.
If she falls asleep, lay her down, then wake her up. Don’t get her fully awake, but make sure she is awake, so that she can feel the sensation of falling asleep again on her own, already lying down. The purpose of this is so that she knows she can fall asleep without you. Again, more on this later.
o Brainstorm activities for post-feeding times
o Plan your day so that there is time for activity after eating
o If baby is already accustomed to sleeping after eating, set a schedule for yourself to wean her away from it within 2 weeks. Be strong and stick to the schedule!