7 Ways To Improve Your Baby's Sleep Habits
As a parent, particularly a new one, sleep will always be on your mind. Gently encouraging good sleeping habits with your baby will help you on your way to a better night's sleep.
These 7 steps are all easy to follow – start gradually, build up your routine and create habits that will help you and your baby sleep better (and longer). If you have an older baby or a toddler experiencing sleep regression, rejigging your routine and reminding yourself of these steps will also help.
1. Always put baby down awake
By doing so, your baby will learn to settle himself to sleep, making middle of the night wake-ups a little easier. Ensure younger babies are winded properly before sleep, and if your baby falls asleep while feeding, use this winding time to rouse them slightly. Watch your baby's eyes flicker so you know he's not fully asleep before putting him into the cot.
2. Ensure a good last feed for the day
A good feed will help your baby sleep for longer. Aim for around 7pm for young babies, with a dream feed later on to see them through, or alternatively, tea and 7pm feed for older children. Once baby is weaned onto solids (around 5/6 months), they should be able to start sleeping through the night without feeding. Breastfed babies may be an exception to this and may wake to feed during the night.
3. Let baby settle himself
Don’t worry if your baby grizzles (not screaming furiously) when you put him down. Some babies will be trying to cut out other sounds, others may be creating a wall of sound around them, that is familiar. Allow this 'crying' to diminish.
4. If using one, give soother at beginning of sleep
A soother is a sleep association for your baby – it tells him 'I am expected to go to sleep now'. It also allows the body to calm down and get into a natural rhythm. Where possible, in between feeding and sleeping, don't use the soother (although I understand there are times where it is a battle not to use it), and once baby is in bed, don’t put the soother back in again unless necessary to re-settle.
5. Maximise the difference between day and night
Young babies often have their days and nights topsy-turvy and you may find that in the early weeks baby is more inclined to be awake in the middle of the night. You will need to help your baby to develop their own internal body clock. Use lights and curtains to your advantage, making baby's room as dark as possible at night. For night feeds or if you need to go into your baby during the night, keep movements slow and quiet, don't stimulate your child and keep lights off or very low. [blockquote]Young babies often have their days and nights topsy-turvy and you may find that in the early weeks baby is more inclined to be awake in the middle of the night[/blockquote]
6. Have a regular bedtime routine
Create a bedtime routine which is the anchor of your day. Allow yourself an hour for this wind down time, and ensure your routine can be managed by one person. Bath-time, massage and a calm pre-bed activity like lullabies or stores (even with infants as they love the interaction) is an ideal peaceful routine. For baby massage, stroke away from the heart and massage down the body – your baby will love this gentle, relaxing contact.
7. Ensure the bedroom is a peaceful place
The bedroom should be just that – a bedroom. Keep all distractions, toys and other exciting things in another room or downstairs, and as much as possible keep the bedroom a calm environment. Check the temperature of baby's bedroom – a little too cold is better than too hot.
As always, we would love to hear your opinions. Please leave a comment below.