Family sleep patterns can be disturbed by broken nights and lack of sleep can affect everyone, but many parents have problems with their child’s sleep that last well beyond the first year. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, here are some strategies for sweet dreams:
A bedtime routine is important and not only signals the end of the day for your baby but can help prevent sleep problems later on. Here’s a simple routine for you to try with your baby.
• Give your baby her evening bath and put on her night clothes
• Make sure you have turned the TV off or right down so that evenings are quiet and calm
• Read her a story and kiss her and say goodnight
If you stick to this routine in the same order at the same time every evening your baby will recognise the cues.
leep training will help your baby settle to sleep in her cot, or when she wakes at night. Do the same things every night, or when your baby wakes, and remind yourself that the training is for everyone’s benefit.
Falling asleep alone
Although you’ll learn to take sleep deprivation in your stride, it can sometimes leave you a little tetchy and tired. Getting your baby to fall asleep alone will help you both feel fresher in the morning. Once she can fall asleep alone, she can settle herself if she wakes.
The moving game
This is a good way of teaching your baby to fall asleep alone.
- Sit by your baby’s cot and hold her hand until she learns how to fall asleep this way. It may take a few nights, but then let your baby fall asleep in this way for a few nights.
- Move your chair a little further away from the cot, and stay there until your baby falls asleep.
- Gradually keep moving your chair a little further away each night. You will find yourself sitting outside the door eventually, but in a place where your baby can still see you.
- Stay outside the door, but in a place where you can still talk to your baby and give her reassurance for a few nights.
- You will a reach a point where your baby will fall asleep without you being nearby. It will work, even though it may take a few weeks!
Tips to cope with broken nights
Some hints to help save your sanity with a newborn:
- Looking after a baby can be exhausting, so it’s vital to look after yourself, too: rest as much as you can, eat well, and drink plenty of water.
- Remember that babies are individuals and each needs a different amount of sleep. So don’t compare your baby to others or blame yourself or your baby if he seems to be awake more than other children his age.
- In the early days when you’re breastfeeding on demand, it’s hard to get a night of unbroken sleep, but when your baby gets older and you’re sure she’s not hungry, get your partner to get up in the night.
- If it’s your partner’s turn, try to get a full night’s sleep by using earplugs or try sleeping out of earshot of your baby’s crying.
- Recharge your batteries by having a nap during the day when your baby does.
- If you’re trying to lose some pregnancy weight, don’t overdo it as it’ll affect your energy.
- It’s easy to forget simple things when you’re tired. So make notes and lists to stop yourself feeling stressed.