Finding ways to help your baby sleep is something that all parents think about.
Our nursery practitioners are asked about sleep daily, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed if you’re having a tricky time getting your baby off to sleep.
If you’re feeling the struggle of sleepless nights, you can take heart in knowing that this is completely normal.
Your baby is unique
The first thing to understand is that all babies like to be unique when it comes to sleeping patterns. It’s highly unlikely that your baby will have a similar routine to your friend’s or relative’s baby.
Your baby might sleep for long periods, or your baby might sleep in short bursts. If you’re lucky, your baby might sleep through the night, but most children won’t for a long time.
Whatever sleep pattern your baby has, it probably won’t align with your own. The best thing to do in this case would be to try and sleep when your baby sleeps.
“How much sleep does my baby need?”
A new-born baby will sleep for most of the day. It’s likely they will be asleep for up to 18 hours a day in the first few weeks.
They won’t stay asleep through the night however, as they will need feeding every 1-3 hours.
The Sleep Foundation recommends the following amount of sleep for different age groups:
|Age||Recommended||May be appropriate||Not recommended|
|New-born (0-3 months)||14 to 17 hours||11 to 13 hours OR|
18 to 19 hours
|Less than 11 hours OR
More than 19 hours
|Infant (4-11 months)||12 to 15 hours||10 to 11 hours OR|
16 to 18 hours
|Less than 10 hours OR
More than 18 hours
|Toddler (1-2 years)||11 to 14 hours||9 to 10 hours OR|
15 to 16 hours
|Less than 9 hours OR
More than 16 hours
|Pre-schooler (3-5 years)||10 to 13 hours||8 to 9 hours OR|
|Less than 8 hours OR
More than 14 hours
Source: Sleep Foundation
“How can I get my baby to settle?”
You can try any of these methods with babies as young as six weeks. The key with any method you try is to be consistent throughout the week, this includes weekends.
Give your baby the chance to fall asleep on their own
When your baby reaches six weeks their sleep/wake cycle will start to develop. Lay your baby on their back when they become sleepy.
When you rock your baby or feed them to sleep then you run the risk of your baby relying on you, which can be a difficult habit to break. This can also be a difficult transition when your child starts nursery. Many of the baby rooms in our nurseries operate on a 1:3 ratio, and can babies struggle if they don’t have 1:1 time when falling asleep.
Create a bedtime routine
A routine for your baby helps them to learn when it’s time to fall asleep. From around the age of 3 months you should start embedding your routine.
Introduce some quiet time beforehand by turning off the TV, and put away your electronic devices (e.g. phone, tablet etc.). This will create a calm atmosphere so that your baby can begin to relax.
You could then run a bath for your baby before putting their pyjamas on. A soothing massage or bedtime story may help as well.
Whatever you decide for your routine, it should always end in the room that your baby sleeps in. This should be the same room as you during their first 6 months. Your routine shouldn’t last any longer than half an hour.
Hint: It also helps to make your daytime feeds more lively and active, and your night-time feeds more quiet and relaxed. This will help your baby to learn the difference between day and night.
Wait to see if your baby settles by themselves
Once you’ve put your baby down, give them a few seconds to see if they will settle themselves. If not, feel free to comfort them briefly but explain ‘its bedtime’.
If you leave the room and they are still unsettled, wait a few moments before checking on them again. Keep repeating this until your baby settles. If you think they are very upset about something then you might want to pick them up.
Coping with disturbed nights
New-born babies will wake every 1 to 3 hours during the night in the first few months. This can be difficult for many parents to cope with.
If you have a partner, then you should ask them for help. If you’re using formula or bottled breast milk, then you could share the feeds. Or, if you’re only breastfeeding at this stage, then perhaps your partner could do the early morning change to give you a chance to get some sleep.
If you don’t have a partner, then you could always ask a close friend or relative to stay for a few days so that you can sleep more.
If you need more advice, please feel free to speak with one of our practitioners when you visit the nursery. They will be more than happy to help you.