Our Love To Dream expert Katie Hilton shares her top tips for getting your baby in to a good sleep routine from day one, to help you and your baby get a restful nights sleep, tonight and every night.
1. Swaddle – From birth to about age four to five months, babies possess a startle reflex, in which they feel as if they are falling. The sensation of falling causes jerking movements, and the baby will wake up. Keeping a tight swaddle prevents babies from startling themselves awake, helping the newborn baby sleep both better and longer.
2. Dreamfeed – The dreamfeed is the feed given to baby right before you go to bed, and it helps prevent your baby from waking up just after parents finally drift off to sleep. The dreamfeed can help your newborn baby sleep for longer while you sleep. Even if your baby is in a deep sleep just gently rouse them and offer a feed before your go to sleep.
3. Safe Sleep – Always follow the safe sleep guidance recommended by The Lullaby Trust. This includes putting baby in the feet to foot position and on their back to sleep, keeping the room temperature between 16-20c, never smoking around your baby, removing things such as cot bumpers and cuddly toys from the sleeping environment.
4. White Noise – White noise can help create a calming, soothing environment for your baby and reminds them of the noises they heard from the placenta and your heart beat when they were in your womb. You can purchase a white noise machine or alternatively use things such as an app on a phone or a fan placed in another room.
5. • Follow the Eat-Wake-Sleep Cycle – Your baby wakes from sleep and immediately eats. Then your baby is awake for a while to play. Then your baby goes back to sleep. This cycle has several purposes. First, it encourages full feeds by allowing your baby to eat immediately after waking. Your baby will have the most energy immediately after waking, making him more inclined to take a full feed and go longer between feeds. Also, by feeding your baby after sleep rather than before sleep, the cycle prevents your baby from associating food with sleep or using food as a sleep prop.
6. Nap Routine – It is well known that babies thrive on routine. Creating consistent routines for your baby will help develop healthy sleep patterns. Choose a nap routine that works for you. A nap routine may include taking the baby to his room, closing the blinds or curtains, placing your baby in his sleeping bag or swaddle, turning on the white noise, singing a quick song (e.g. Twinkle, twinkle), giving a few cuddles, and say your sleepy words. A bedtime routine would typically be a little longer and may include a bath, a massage, reading a story, offering a feed, placing the baby in a swaddle, turning on the white noise, a few cuddles. Following the same exact routine as consistently as possible cues your baby for sleep, and over time your baby will learn that sleep immediately follows the nap and bedtime routines.
7. Strategic Nappy Change – Changing the nappy before a middle of the night feed prevents your baby from waking up too much after a feed is finished. When your baby wakes up change the nappy and re-swaddle to prepare him for sleep immediately following a night feed. If you change the nappy after the night feed, your baby may become too awake, making it more challenging for him to fall asleep.
8. Don’t rush in – We may inadvertently encourage the start of a bad sleep habit by rushing in when a baby cries or rustles during the night. Often times, babies wake up babble and go back to sleep. Your baby may even cry briefly or babble and still be asleep. Give your baby some time and see if he will resettle himself. Avoid rushing in and disturbing this process in order to help your newborn baby sleep better.
9. Awake but not drowsy – The most important way to encourage your baby to sleep well in the long run is to teach him to fall asleep independently, which is essentially the beginnings of teaching independent sleep. Babies, like adults, will naturally wake up during the night. Without knowing how to get back to sleep, a baby will cry out after waking regardless of actual need, resulting in night waking for much longer than is actually necessary. To help this process always put your baby down in his cot awake, but slightly drowsy.
We hope you find these sleep tips helpful, let us know how you get on or share some sleep tips of your own at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media.