Follow Our 5 Step Plan to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night
Newborns and good sleep generally don’t mix, but with the right advice you can challenge this assumption and be on your way to a great night’s rest.
1. Know their body language
Your baby might not be able to tell you they’re tired, but if you tune in, you’ll start to recognise the signs they’re sleepy. Signs like fist clenching, eye rubbing, frowning, jerking arms and legs, yawning or grizzling can tell you they are ready for bed.
2. Create a routine
By three months, babies are ready to start adapting to a ‘go to bed’ routine, which may take around 20 minutes. Find a way to help them recognise that it’s time to start winding down. Good ideas include a bath, a feed and some quiet time before popping them in their cot.
3. Become bedroom buddies
Babies who sleep in their parents’ bedroom tend to breastfeed more successfully, so set up their cot in your room for the first six to 12 months. Don’t let them sleep in your bed though because that has been linked with increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome and other accidents.
4. Schedule naps
Overtired babies are harder to get to sleep, so make sure your bub is well rested throughout the day.
5. Avoid cuddling them to sleep
Put your baby to bed when they are calm but still awake so they learn to fall asleep independently. If they always fall asleep in your arms, they’ll likely struggle to get back to sleep on their own. It can take up to 10 minutes for babies to fall asleep, so give them time to relax, and resist the urge to pick them up every time they cry. Instead, try rocking the crib or singing.
If you still can’t get your little one to sleep easily, you might want to consider trying ‘controlled comforting’ or ‘camping out’.
This technique involves staying in the room while your baby grizzles but not actively helping them. The idea is that your presence will make them feel safe and they’ll learn to self-soothe.
The idea is that your presence will them feel safe and they'll learn to self-soothe.
This strategy can be used for babies and toddlers aged six months to two years. It involves leaving the room as soon as your baby is quiet. If they grizzle and start to cry, set a time limit, such as two minutes, before going in. Calm them down, then leave them for a set of time intervals, such as five or 10 minutes, before briefly tending to them if they’re still crying. Talk or pat them until they’re calm before leaving the room again.
The key is giving your baby lots of affection during the day so they feel loved and understand that bedtime is quiet time. If you need more advice, speak to your maternal and child-health nurse about some additional baby sleep strategies.