As a nation obsessed with sleep and how much we can glean night on night, it is no surprise that everyone has an opinion on how to get a baby to ‘sleep through’.
Listen to any mums group chatting and the topic of sleep will come up regularly, and often involve mums boasting that their child has slept for a full twelve hours, worrying those who feel that their infant is lagging behind in quality sleep.
Although every baby will eventually sleep through the night, there are a number of things that you can do to help soothe your little one and keep them dozing that little bit longer.
- TEACH YOUR BABY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DAY AND NIGHT
Your newborn baby will spend on average 16 hours of every 24 asleep. The first step is to teach your baby the connection between dark and sleep, and light and awake.
Within 10 weeks, your baby is capable of understanding that night time is quiet time. Help this understanding grow by immersing your baby in the hustle and bustle of normal life but avoiding simulation at night.
- HAPPY NAPPING
Overtired babies are very difficult to settle so napping is essential and it’s very important to learn your baby’s sleep signals. These could be them going quiet and still, rubbing their eyes, yawning or crying. Respond to these sleep cues right away by putting them in their Moses basket or cot for a nap.
By the end of the first month, a napping pattern typically emerges with babies needing a nap every one and a half hours after their previous waking time. If it helps, keep a diary of your baby’s feed and sleep times so you can spot a pattern emerging.
- ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE
Routines rarely work very early on, but be persistent and there are elements of your baby’s day that you can start to introduce on a regular basis. This is critical to developing healthy sleep habits. A succession of events which every night ends in your baby drifting off teaches her the simple message that it’s now time to go to sleep.
Begin with a warm bath and pyjamas, and follow up with some soothing music or even a story – babies love to hear their parents’ voices from a very early age even though they may not understand a story.
Finally, dim the lights in the room and give the final feed of the day (not taking in to count the night feeds!). Enjoy this quiet time and make it a cosy ritual every day.
- CREATE A SLEEP INDUCING ENVIRONMENT FOR NAPS AND BEDTIME
The environment that you end the day in will communicate to your baby that it is time to sleep. Create a calming space for baby in a quiet room. Avoid television and noisy siblings if possible and dim the lights.Pay attention to the position you put baby down in, the temperature and the way they are swaddled. Safety is of utmost importance – follow advice on ‘back to sleep’, ‘feet to foot’ and a temperature of 16-19 degrees celsius.
- WORK IN TIME WITH INFANT SLEEP CYCLES
Different babies respond to different parenting methods, particularly at night. The key is to work with the facts, whatever method you choose to settle your baby. The night time sleep cycle of a very young baby lasts for around 60 minutes but from three months of age that increases to 90 minutes.Be prepared for some sleep disturbance 60 minutes after your baby has fallen asleep, and then 90-120 minutes following. Depending on your baby, and the conditions the baby is sleeping in, for example temperature or sleeping position, the disturbance may be fully waking or simply a grumble and a change in position.