Encouraging a good night’s sleep for your baby
Parents’ guide to establishing good baby sleep habits
It’s what every new and most probably exhausted parent desires - a baby that will settle to sleep easily at night, and learn to sleep through the night. It doesn’t happen straight away obviously, nor should it pushed.
Newborns are programmed to nod off two or three hours between feeds and they don’t care if it’s night or day. But as they grow, there are some tips you can follow to ensure a peaceful and relaxing end to the day. These sleep habits can also stand you and your baby in good stead as they grow:
1. Wind down: Every baby or child needs to wind down before bed, so that they don’t go to bed excitable or upset. Toddlers and older children will still need about 20 minutes before bed where you move to quieter, more relaxing activities. Turn off TVs and other screens and have a cuddle, a chat or a read. For smaller babies, a cuddle, a feed in a quiet, and a gently sung lullaby in darkened room is a perfect wind down.
2. Consistency is key: You might not always be able to stick to exactly the same bedtime every night, but you should try not to deviate too much from it. Putting your baby to bed later in hope of a lie-in the following day rarely works out! If you are away, it’s advisable to follow the same pattern as home as far as you can.
3. Bath-time: A bath can be a great way to get a baby or toddler to have a bit of fun and yet know that the end of the day is near. Just make sure they don’t get too excitable.
4. Bedtime story: You can never underestimate the staying power of a bedtime story. There is no reason why you can’t read to a newborn - they will know your voice and as they get older, they will look forward to a nightly story with mum or dad and learn to associate it with bedtime.
5. Self-soothing: Babies will wake and cry and need your attention but as they grow, it can help everyone’s quality of sleep if they’ve experienced the opportunity to self-soothe. But remember that this is a skill that babies learn progressively as they grow older and being left to cry too long will cause unnecessary upset - so do return to them, pick them up and put them gently back to bed when calm and sleepy.