10 point plan for a good night’s sleep
- Introduce a lovely consistent bedtime routine for your baby. This familiar series of steps leading up to bed time will help them to feel both sleepy and safe. Include a nice warm bath, a familiar book or song and lots of loving contact with you. It is a wonderful investment of your time and energy to help them go to sleep feeling happy and content.
- Try to avoid allowing your baby to fall asleep over their bedtime milk feed. Introduce a little song, goodnight phrase or picture book to look at together after the feed and before putting them into the cot. This will break the milk/sleep association, so common in sleepless babies. Babies who are over 6 months old and are gaining weight nicely rarely require a feed during the night.
- Aim to always place your baby into the cot whilst they are awake. It is alarming for them to wake in the night to find that they are no longer in your arms. If they cry when you put them into the cot, spend a few nights beside them, patting and reassuring them there. Once they feel safe in the cot you can begin to withdraw your presence until they are able to settle to sleep all by themselves.
- Remember that it is normal and healthy for babies to wake several times during the night, due to the sleep cycles. Babies who are able to re settle themselves are generally those who go to sleep independently at the beginning of the night.
- Get the daytime naps right. Your baby needs to be tired at bedtime but not overtired. Encourage naps during the morning and early afternoon, but if your baby is over 6 months old, avoid very late afternoon sleeps if they have difficulty settling to sleep night.
- Teach your baby that the cot is a safe and permanent sleeping place. Settle them in the cot at the start of the night, and avoid bringing them into bed with you during the night. This way, they will not wake in anticipation of the ritual of moving in with you!
- Learn to take advantage of the times when they are resting to have a rest yourself. This way you will be better prepared to rise to the challenge of the demands of parenting.
- Spend some time outdoors together. Experiencing the contrast between daylight and darkness will encourage the production of their natural sleep hormones. It will also provide vital clues to help establish a day/night sleep schedule, and help them to expend their energy reserves.
- Make bed time a happy time of day! Even though you might be worn out and ready for a break, turn off the TV, put your phone away and and give them your undivided attention for half an hour or so. Give lots of cuddles and smiles and this will help them to fall asleep feeling secure and happy.
- Once your baby is settled, take a few moments to care for yourself. Even though you might be beyond tired, reward yourself with a nice warm bath, a good film or book and an early night!
Copyright Andrea Grace