Parents of all ages find it really difficult getting their baby into a sleep routine. We asked health visitor Krissie to give us her top ten tips*:
1. Create a routine – plan around what works for you.
It is never too soon to start (and never too late either). Choose a bed time that fits in with your life style. If you are realistic you are more likely to keep to it.
2. Stick to it!
Children need clear boundaries and night time is no exception. A familiar routine makes babies and children feel more secure.
Give him a firm ‘goodnight’ and don’t be tempted to keep popping back in.
3. The night time routine should only take about 30-40 mins.
Include a bath, a massage, getting in to night clothes, a story (even the youngest babies will benefit from this) a cuddle and goodnight kiss. Avoid noisy games, sugary drinks or exciting play.
Make the bedtime routine enjoyable so that your child looks forward to it but keep it calm and relaxing so that you prepare your child for sleep.
4. A regular daytime sleep routine will make a night time routine easier.
On average babies under 6 months will need three naps a day, babies 6-12 months will need two and babies over 1 year will need only one.
Don’t let your child have a nap after 3.30pm once they are over 9 months of age.
5. Take him out for plenty of fresh air in the day.
That will be good for you, too!
6. Place your baby in his cot when he is drowsy, not when he is fully asleep.
This is so that baby can get used to falling asleep without your presence. Remember that for the first six months your baby should sleep in the same room as you for all sleeps day and night.
7. Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature (around 18ºC).
This temperature will also help prevent your baby from overheating.
8. Don’t rush to him if he cries or calls out.
All children wake at night, however briefly! As long as you know baby is well, allow him time to settle himself. Constantly providing your presence can create more problems.
9. Look after yourself!
If you feel good you will have more energy to look after your baby. Try taking an afternoon nap at the same time as your baby.
Avoid too much caffeine (from tea, coffee or coke) and sweet, sugary foods. Accept all offers of help from friends and family so that you can have a bit of ‘me’ time. Share experiences with other mums and contact your health visitor if you need extra help.
Read young mum Ellie’s tips on looking after yourself after you’ve had a baby.
When you put your baby down to sleep, make sure to also follow the recommended safer sleep practices.
* as recommended by the Millpond Sleep Clinic