If you have a newborn, here is my best piece of advice: teach him night from day.

Why is this important?

It is important because babies have no idea what the heck is going on…..ever.

They arrive here and completely freak out.  They don’t know who they are, where they are, or who you are.

They don’t understand the mumblings that come out of your mouth.

They don’t know about “hunger”, they just cry when they feel its discomfort.

They don’t know about “gas”, they just yelp when they feel the pain.

They don’t know what “sleep” is, they just drift off from exhaustion.

They don’t know how to move their limbs effectively….or even what “limbs” are.

They look at you (the parent) and think “Okay….okay….calm down….I recognize that smell…..that person looks like the person who was here yesterday to help me…..okay.  I have no idea where I am or what’s happening, so I have to just trust that this person will keep me safe.”

So when you put them down into a crib at what seem to be completely random times (to them), they won’t always sleep like you want them to.

Then you will get frustrated that they don’t “sleep through the night”.

The trouble is, they don’t know it is night.

They don’t know night from day.

They don’t know that “night” means “sleep”.  But you can teach them.

Create a simple routine that you can do every night with your baby.  Something with a few steps….but easy enough that you can repeat it every single night.

It has to be a routine that you won’t copy at any other time during the day.

If your baby naps during the day, make sure you keep the lights on, talk in normal voices, make noise, keep busy.  Don’t worry – if he is tired, he will be able to nap through it.  But don’t turn off the lights and make him think it is night time.  This is daytime sleep, which can happen at any time.

Decide what you want the routine to be for bed time.

It might be: warm bath, big yellow towel, massage, turn on a specific soothing music CD while you put on his pajamas, turn off the light, 5 minute snuggle, put him to bed, stay in the room for 10 minutes, then leave and let the music play to the end of the CD.

Make the routine something you (or a babysitter, family member, partner) can do every night, in the same order.  You can even write it down and post it.

Before long, your baby will begin to notice some order in the chaos of his life.

He will live ‘in the moment’ all day long (which may seem like forever to him), but as soon as you begin to put “the routine” in motion, he will think: “Hey!  I remember this!  I know what comes next!”

It will begin to kick-start something in him….because deep in his brain he will know that at the end of this routine comes time in the crib, in the dark.  Which means sleep.

As you go through the routine, he will start to relax in anticipation of bed time.  He will feel comfort in the predictability.

Can you see why this is important?

Your little baby needs to feel safe in this scary new world.  Predictability and routine feels very safe.

Another reason this is important:

I have heard of children being a year old before sleeping through the night.  A YEAR OLD.

Good Lord.

A year without a full night’s sleep?  I can’t even imagine….

So if you have a new baby (or are about to have one), please heed my advice.

Teach them night from day.

Soon they will be sleeping longer at night because they know it is “night”.

And if they are sleeping….then YOU are sleeping.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?