Easy steps to bedtime bliss.
- Stick to a regular bedtime. Aim for 7:30 to 8:30 p.m., not later. "There's a window of opportunity for sleep," says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., a sleep specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "Once you pass it, you have an overtired baby, and it's more difficult for him to fall asleep."
- Create a soothing routine. Even a child who is only a few months old will take comfort in such routines as a warm bath, a story, or a lullaby.
- Use room-darkening shades. These can help sensitive babies sleep longer, especially during the summer months.
- Look for your infant's sleepy signals: crankiness, rubbing her eyes, a slight drop in consciousness. Often babies who are ready to drift off will suddenly widen their eyes and then close them hard, a cue that parents sometimes miss.
- Make bedtime a pleasant experience. Your infant will pick up on your tension if you approach the evening with dread. Try to stay relaxed, says Rafael Pelayo, M.D., a sleep specialist at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic, in Palo Alto, California. An alternative: Put your baby in his crib, sit in his room, and listen to soft music or have a quiet conversation with your spouse. Your child can still drift off, and you won't be so focused on his falling asleep.