Editor's Note: Always follow the guidance of your pediatrician first, especially when birth weight and feeding regimen are concerned. An infant is anywhere from 6 to 14 weeks.
Our two-month-old baby Leela, sleeps every night from 8PM to 6AM. Yes. that's right — EVERY night, seven nights a week.
And while my wife Kerry and I have learned a great deal from excellent parenting books like The Happiest Kid on the Block and The Baby Sleep Solution, we believe that The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is actually the greatest baby book out there.
Here are five tips that yoga can teach you about parenting, that will allow an infant to sleep uninterrupted:
1. Have an extraordinary sense of routine — for the baby and for yourself.
Yoga teaches us that routine conserves prana or vital energy. Without routine the energy of both the parent and the baby is frittered away, making them tired and irritable.
Here is the bedtime routine that works for us — it's important that it is followed seven days a week with no exceptions.
Baby's Bedtime Routine
- 7PM Sleep preparation starts.
- 7-7:15PM Give baby a quick bath and change her into comfortable night clothes.
- 7:15PM-7:45PM Feed and change baby.
- 7:45PM Put your baby to sleep in the crib. She'll typically fuss for a few minutes. You can rock the crib a little and pat her gently, but for the most part let her sleep by herself (ours always does!) by 8PM
- Midnight The “Dream feed" (feed your baby with a bottle while she is still half-asleep) before heading off to sleep yourself. Our baby rarely opens her eyes for this one.
- 6AM Baby wakes up.
Mom & Dad's Bedtime Routine
Once you are a parent, there's nothing more exciting than getting a full night's sleep. Here's how we get ours:
- 5 days a week, we follow the routine above.
- Between 8PM and midnight, we do our own thing (dinner, reading, meditating, etc.)
- On Wednesday and Saturday, we have date night from 5-9PM. The babysitter follows the exact routine above.
Helpful Tip: If you are breastfeeding, start to pump early so your partner can help you and do the night feed and/or the dream feed with a bottle.
2. Be fully present in every interaction with your baby.
Babies are extremely receptive to the signals you send to your baby. If you are rushing while changing her because your mind is racing into future planning and emails, the baby will pick up on that agitation. Meditation stills the fluctuations of your thought waves, so you don't live in the past or the future, but remain present. Give your baby your complete attention in the moment, and watch her reciprocate with calmness as she drifts into the night.
3. Practice Pratyahara — a withdrawal of the senses from external stimulation.
Pratyahara is the fifth limb of Patanjali's Yoga, and is crucial for new parents. Too often, I see parents rushing from a Mom's Meetup group, to a music class, and then a visit with the grandparents. As a result, the baby gets overstimulated during the day and misses her naps, making her cranky at night. Slow down. Go within. Rest more in the day.
4. Get outside in nature.
Yoga philosophy teaches us that all of prakriti (the physical world) — from nature, to human body and thought, is made of the same three attributes — sattva (the quality of purity and harmony), rajas (the quality of activity and restlessness), and tamas (the quality of inertia and ignorance). Sattva predominates in nature, so if you breathe pure air and eat pure food, your temperament will be harmonious as well.
We like to ensure that our baby is out of the house for at least a couple of hours in the morning and evening.
5. Mom needs to remember to invest in her own emotional health.
Finally, only a happy parent makes for a happy baby. Particularly for mothers, who have the majority of infant care responsibility during maternity leave. It's incredibly important that mom remembers to make space for her own well-being.
Since this is easier said than done, we have a solid routine for my wife so she can take a break from the baby, and spend time exercising and meditating in the routine below:
- After 7PM, the baby's responsibilities are predominantly mine.
- Wednesday and Saturday Again, mandatory date night from 5-9PM. We enlist the help of a grandparent or babysitter.
- Saturday and Sunday mornings from 9AM to 1PM, baby goes for a walk with me.
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