Now that your little one is more alert and active throughout the day, settling to sleep might be more difficult than it was those first few weeks! Often times young babies who previously slept well (or even just “okay”) as newborns suddenly start taking teeny tiny catnaps or waking every couple of hours at night. What’s an exhausted parent to do!?
Let’s take a look at the 6 steps to help your 11, 12 or 13 week old baby sleep.
In those first few weeks when all your baby did was SLEEP you probably wondered, “When will my baby start staying awake longer during the day?” And, now, you may be asking yourself, “When will my baby begin sleeping longer at night?” Whether your baby suddenly cannot nap anywhere other than your arms or wakes up frequently at night, you are not alone! And, we have the keys to getting your 11, 12 or 13 week old (and YOU) the best sleep possible!
How To Get My 11, 12 or 13 Week Old To Sleep At-a-Glance
- Develop a consistent sleep routine
- Review your baby’s schedule
- Consider gentle sleep coaching/training
- Create a sleep plan for your family
- Gather support from your village
- Prepare for the next sleep speedbump
And, now for a few details…
1. Develop a sleep routine for your 11, 12 or 13 week old
Setting the environment for sleep is crucial and part of cuing your baby it’s time for sleep is to have a consistent set of steps you do each sleep period, at night and at nap times. For those parents who aren’t that thrilled about strict routines, have no fear, the sleep routine does NOT have to be long. For instance, you can dim the lights, close the curtains or blinds, change your baby’s diaper, sing your little one’s favorite lullaby, nurse or offer a bottle, cuddle the baby for a few minutes, and then lay your baby down for sleep while saying a key phrase (e.g. “I love you. Time for sleep. Night night.”).
2. Review your 11, 12 or 13 week old’s schedule
For some 11, 12 or 13 week old babies, their sleep schedule is fundamental to helping them sleep well. Some babies are more adaptable or less sensitive to disruptions to their normal routine. But, even if your baby is very adaptable, having a predictable schedule can be very helpful for you, the parent, since it helps you arrange playdates and have some sense of consistency in your day-to-day! Since you may not know (yet) if your baby is slow-to-adapt or more “go with the flow,” I strongly recommend developing a good schedule to see what type of impact it may or may not have on your baby’s sleep. For all you know, that’s all you have to do to get longer naps and better sleep at night! Some families, depending on their situation, can’t stick to a precise schedule as well as others, but just do your best. What type of schedule you ask? Check out our sample schedules here or make your own custom schedule!
3. Consider gentle sleep training (or coaching) for your 11, 12 or 13 week old
If the previous steps haven’t significantly improved your 11, 12 or 13 week old’s sleep and you’ve downloaded our free e-Book, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep through the Night, it’s likely your baby has sleep associations that need to be resolved with gentle sleep training. Ideally, you’d get a professional assessment of your baby’s sleep challenges, but if you feel certain a dependence on parental help is part of the issue, then you may want to consider gently sleep coaching your baby towards more independent sleep. This essentially involves helping your baby learn to fall asleep with less help from you. Given your baby’s age and our experience, however, we do feel strongly this should be done using a very hands-on, gentle sleep coaching method.
Not sure where to begin? Check out Gentle Sleep Training Explained + 5 Strategies
4. Create a plan for your 11, 12 or 13 week old
If you’re considering gentle sleep training, you need to figure out what to do next. Some of us are planners and others simply “wing it.” If you’re not a planner, you can certainly skip this step, but if you’ve been trying to help your 11, 12 or 13 week old sleep for awhile now, you’ve developed a routine, reviewed the schedule and plugging along without a set strategy isn’t working out so well, maybe a plan is just what you’re missing. After all, it’s hard to know how to get to where you’re going without a travel plan. Make the plan as detailed as you want it, but having a step-by-step plan helps you stay on track, committed, and consistent. Not sure where to begin or need help creating your baby’s sleep plan? Consider making your own sleep plan or letting us create a Personalized Sleep Plan™ for you and your baby.
5. Get support for your 11, 12 or 13 week old’s parents (you!)
We hear everywhere that “it takes a village” to raise a child, but gone seem to be the days where we have a lot of help nurturing our babies. I don’t know about you, but my mom came out for one week when my first baby was a newborn, but that was about it. My husband and I were largely on our own. No Aunts to regularly hold the baby while I took a nap or enjoyed a (hopefully hot) meal. So, getting through this 11, 12 or 13 week old trouble spot can be tough without support. We sometimes have to recruit our own village. Consider hiring a sleep consultant or asking your partner, friends, or family members to help you implement your sleep plan. Having a support system in place can make all the difference in the world in reaching your sleep goals!
6. Prepare for your 11, 12 or 13 week old’s next speedbump
Whether you’ve already made some progress getting your 11, 12 or 13 week old to sleep or you’re just beginning your research into helping your baby sleep, it’s important to never lose sight of “what’s next.” Why? Because babies are constantly changing! So be prepared and make sure you plan ahead, and have a game plan in place, before the next sleep regression or speedbump emerges. Around 4 months old your baby may experience their first sleep regression. What’s a “sleep regression” you ask? Now’s the time to begin thinking about how you’ll help your baby through any potential setbacks (teething, travel, and illness are BIG ones!) – sometimes the key to overcoming or even avoiding setbacks is understanding when they are likely to happen and having a plan in place for how you’ll get through them!