Using a musical cue for sleep with your baby and young child can be a wonderful way to help your child know when it is time to sleep. It also serves as a way for them to enter sleep more easily and is a wonderful tool to build a bedtime routine around. I am often asked the best way to set up a musical sleep cue, so here is my best advice:
- Choose music that you love that is calming, of good quality, and that has lyrics that support sweet dreams. Have you ever watched a movie before bed and then found that the characters and plots showed up in your dreams? What you listen to before bed will stay with you in your nighttime thoughts, so it is very important that you are listening to something comforting. Traditional lullabies are a great choice as they have affirming themes like those of parental love or angels guarding over your child as they sleep.
- Consistency is key! If your parents had a song or a prayer that they said to you each night you know how powerful and comforting it is. My grandmother always said the prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep …" in the evenings when I stayed with her. To this day, there are times that I will hear her voice in my head as I drift off to sleep.
It takes adults up to 21 days to create a habit, younger children it takes less time, and babies even less. Babies easily take up musical cues because they are looking for anything that is consistent that will tell them about the world they are discovering. Choose a song or a series of songs to use when you would like your child to sleep to and play them only and always when it is sleeptime. Ways To Encourage Free Play With Your Baby & Toddler
It is never to early to begin. In fact, starting in the womb is ideal. Don't worry if your child is older or if you yourself are looking for a way to get better sleep with a sleep cue! It is possible at all ages. Here is how:
In an ideal world you read this article while you were pregnant. Choosing music to relax to during the third trimester of pregnancy is good for both you and your baby. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that listening to lullabies for 30 minutes a day significantly reduced a mother's stress, anxiety, and depression. How Your Baby Bonds With You
Choose something that calms you and something that you like to listen to. Lullabies are ideal because you can learn them as you listen and then sing them to your baby once they are born. It is important to relax when you are listening to the music so that the baby associates a slower hearbeat and slower breathing (relaxation!) with the music.
Once your baby is born, they will recognize the music they heard consistently in the womb and it will relax them. It becomes a bridge from the womb to the real world. Put the music on quietly when they start to get sleepy so they will build the association of sleep with the music. As they grow, you will be able to use the music to indicate that it is sleep time. The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night