Baby Steps: Helping Babies Sleep & Settle!

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In this weeks tips Baby Steps tips thanks to Registered Midwife Bianca we look at helping babies sleep and settle.

There are three things you can do to try and help with baby sleep and settling in the first six months:

Emphasise the difference between night and day.

Your newborn doesn’t understand the difference between day and night. It’s quite common for newborns to be wide awake during the night and then sleepy during the day.

In these first six months, here are some things you can do to help your baby get used to the idea that night is different from day, and that night is a good time to sleep:

  • During the night, keep the room dimly lit and quiet.
  • Use a dim light when you need to attend to your baby during the night. Try not to turn on a bright overhead light.
  • At night, respond to your baby’s cries quickly, and settle or feed baby as soon as you can.
  • Give night feeds in the bedroom. This will help keep these feeds brief and make them different from daytime feeds.
  • At night try to be soothing and quiet when you’re with your baby. Try to keep play for daytime.

Put your baby to bed drowsy but awake.

Try to put your baby to bed drowsy but awake. This gives your baby the chance to associate falling asleep with being in bed. If your baby has this sleep association, baby might be more likely to self-soothe when they wake in their bed in the night.

Self-soothing is when your baby can calm down, relax and go to sleep again in their bed. Babies who can self-soothe sleep for longer periods and have longer total sleep times at night.

If your baby associates falling asleep with rocking or feeding, baby might want rocking or feeding if they wake in the night. Of course, it’s completely fine to rock or feed your baby to sleep in the night if this suits your baby and you.

Here are some ways you can help your baby settle in bed, drowsy but awake:

  • Give your baby some time to settle. Avoid picking up your baby up as soon as they grizzle. It’s normal for babies to grizzle when you first put them into the cot.
  • As your baby gets older, give baby some time to settle if they grizzle when they wake during the night – baby might re-settle without your help. If you hear real crying, you need to help your baby settle.
  • Try the patting settling technique. With this technique, you pat your baby until they calm down, but you stop patting just before sleep comes. A benefit of patting is that your baby is still going to sleep in the cot.

Start a sleep routine – but keep it flexible.

When it feels right for your baby and you, it can help to start doing things in a similar order each day – for example, feed, play, sleep. A baby sleep routine like this will help your baby settle into a regular sleep pattern.

So when your baby wakes up during the day, a routine might be to:

  • offer baby a feed
  • change baby’s nappy
  • take time for talk and play
  • put baby back down for sleep when baby shows tired signs.

At night, you might choose not to play and instead focus on settling your baby straight back to sleep.

With a newborn, it’s good to be flexible about feeding and sleep times – but it can still help to start doing things in a similar order.

For more information check out:

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