Parenting is a really personal thing, and what works for one family might not suit another. There’s lots of advice out there, and sleep is perhaps one of the most debated areas in all of childcare – perhaps because sleep (or lack of it) becomes so central to your life once you have little ones! However, there are some tried and tested approaches that are worth considering to find one that feels right for you and your baby:
Babies thrive on predictability, so a simple bedtime routine can really help settle your little one for the night. That could be something as straightforward as ‘milk, cuddle, story’ – whatever works for you and your child.
The key is to keep the pattern the same every night so that your little one knows what to expect and comes to associate the familiar routine with bedtime.
It’s up to you how you decide to settle your baby into sleep – some experts suggest putting them down when they’re calm and relaxed but before they’re fully asleep so that they begin to learn how to settle themselves. Of course, not rocking or cuddling your baby to sleep is easier said than done, and others believe that such soothing is vital and that babies will thrive on it. Follow your instincts, and try to be as consistent as you can.
Similarly, some experts advise keeping interaction to a minimum when little ones wake up at night so that they don’t get the idea that night-time is play time. Whatever you choose to do, using low lighting and quiet voices when your baby wakes at night can be a great way to help your little one starts to recognise that night and day are different (and night is for sleeping!).
As your baby gets a bit older, some parents try and encourage increased night-time sleep by giving them more of their feeds during the day. This can take a bit of effort – in that you might be feeding your baby every 3-4 hours rather than leaving longer gaps between daytime feeds – but it could mean that they’re only waking once for a night-time feed. Of course, use your instincts to not over-feed a child.
It sounds strange, but overtired babies can struggle to get to sleep too – look out for signs of tiredness such as yawning, looking away and becoming grumpy.