Perhaps the biggest and most worry-rich conundrum that comes up time and again among parents of babies is how to get baby to sleep. Everyone warned you that sleep may be elusive before you became a parent, but no one could convey just how much this seemingly simple process would consume you. When your own tired delirium is making it hard for you to see what to do, it can be difficult to know how to sleep train your baby. Knowing how to put your baby to sleep will ensure a greater chance of a decent chunk of sleep for both of you. As always, Bloss are coming to the rescue with a valuable selection of baby sleep tips so that you can be pros at heading into the Land of Nod soon.
7 Baby sleep tips
- Be swift to act
Babies have a body clock governed by circadian rhythms just like we adults do. In the same way that if you power through your regular 10pm bedtime, you then fail to drop off at midnight and kick about awake for hours, babies are the same. You need to catch your little one during the naturally drowsy window. This is when their hormones are making it easier for them to drift off because melatonin is at its highest.
So, whilst you’re learning the ropes of sleep, spend some time being more watchful of baby’s cues. When they’re quiet, zoned out, or rubbing their eyes, it’s time to whisk them off to their sleep spot and make it easy for them not to miss that sleepy window.
- Use sound wisely
If you’ve turned into the green eyed monster who can’t bear to listen to fellow parent friends telling you their baby sleeps through anything, you aren’t alone. If your baby has succeeded in educating you on the exact layout of every squeaky floorboard and hinge, then one of the best tips to get your baby to sleep, and work through their light sleep phase without noise disturbance, is to use white noise.
When your baby was in the womb, the sounds they experienced were very like white noise. It helps to muffle wakening sounds. It’ll mean that you can pop your baby down in their cot and go about a normal life without trying to be silent.
- Keep it cool
Keeping the room in which baby sleeps cool is important to reduce SIDS risk. 16-20°C is recommended by The Lullaby Trust, the UK’s leading SIDS charity. This is actually quite cool, and probably cooler than you’re used to. However, it will also help lull baby off to sleep. When we sleep, our body temperature drops naturally. By artificially keeping their temperature higher, our little ones can struggle to drop off. It’s actually quite normal and ok for baby to have slightly chilly fingers. If you’re in doubt as to whether your baby is warm enough, slip your hand over their chest. If it’s warm, then they’re doing ok!
- Use sleep cues
Babies are creatures of habit; they just may need a little help creating the good habits of sleep. The good news is that you have lots of tools that you can use to create sleep cues, which ultimately form the bedtime routine.
With some practice, following the bedtime routine can be a lovely part of the day, important for bonding, and create some of the best memories. Make the routine consistent, and you’ll both benefit.
The best elements to include are: bath, book and a cuddle, milk and then into bed. You can create a bedtime routine that works for you. Indeed, following a routine is perhaps one of the best tips on getting a baby to sleep all night. After this, the room should be dark and interaction kept minimal and low key, continuing to reinforce the night time sleep cues.
- Be subdued in the night
Night waking is normal. Babies circle through different phases of sleep. Also, younger ones will need feeds during the night. The trick is to approach these feeds and wakeful moments differently to how you approach them during the day.
Keep chatting to a minimum and keep it quiet. Keep the room as dark as possible, using a dim light if necessary. Make nappy changes as smooth and warm as possible. A good tip for speedy middle of the night crib changes is to have sheets layered up, so you just need to peel off the dirty layer if there’s been leakage. If possible, change baby before the feed so that the feed serves to help them nod off again.
Feed baby either swaddled or all snug in their sleepsuit and bag, so that you can then pop them back down again with ease.
- Take a nap about naps
If disturbed sleep dominates your nights, chances are it dominates your thoughts about daytime naps. You may have heard conflicting advice and end up feeling like you don’t know if you should or shouldn’t be doing things differently with naps.
In our experience, tying yourself up in knots about naps when baby is under six months old is futile. Things change so quickly at this stage, and there’s no set way to get naps to work. It’s best to go with the flow, letting baby sleep where they sleep best (yes, in the stroller or on the breast if that is what works for you!). Use awake windows to help guide you, but we promise that haphazard naps in the first six months won’t affect creating a good night time routine.
When baby is a little older, and naps last a little longer but are fewer, you’ll discover that a more concrete routine emerges.
Naps are often blamed for early morning waking. Follow our advice on how to tackle this frustrating part of sleep by Sophia Farman, our resident Norland Nanny and Parent Consultant.
- Get rest where you can
It’s probably the most oft-cited piece of parenting advice given to new parents, and with good reason. If you can sleep when baby sleeps then you’ll have more energy and be better able to manage sleep disruption. We know it’s not always possible, especially if you’ve got older ones to care for, but if you can, try to make sure you get your shut-eye hours up.
If this means doing shifts with a partner or making your new bedtime 8pm, then so be it! It’s temporary and will make everything so much better.
Remember that everything seems worse when you’re tired, and frankly you’ve probably never known tiredness like this before. It will pass and you will get on top of your baby’s sleep. But in the meantime, be kind to yourself and follow the tips on how to get baby to sleep that we’ve outlined above.
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