How to get your baby to sleep
Getting a baby to sleep, isn't just a case of putting them into a bed and waiting for them to drift off. They might be hungry, they might need some comfort from you or they might need to develop a consistent bedtime routine.
Keep a diary of your baby’s sleeping habits
A newborn typically sleeps for around 16-17 hours a day and this gradually reduces to 15 hours once they’ve passed the 3-month mark. However, you won’t know how much or when your baby sleeps unless you keep track of it.
Filling in diary entries about your baby’s sleeping habits can help you understand them better. Perhaps one night you stumble upon a revelation such as when they prefer to sleep, or any activities that you do which help them settle down more easily.
Every baby is different and you can’t apply what your friends and family say to your own baby and expect it to work immediately. This is also helpful in the event that a babysitter has to take care of your baby for a night.
Establishing a bedtime routine
Just like you as an adult, babies like to have a predictable and consistent bedtime routine. It should be short, it should be to the point and it should encourage them to fall asleep quickly. You generally want to try and establish a bedtime routine once your baby reaches 3 months.
This can involve turning off the lights 15 minutes before bedtime or turning off any sources of sound (such as television) roughly 30 minutes before they plan to sleep. You could also get used to changing them into their pyjamas at night so that they associate those softer clothes with sleep. There are many small things you can do to establish a repeatable bedtime routine and it’s important to do this as early as possible.
We would obviously suggest a gentle bedtime story, but whilst they are probably a little young at the moment, even a short picture book, may help form another stage in a routine.
Slowly let your baby fall asleep on their own
A lot of parents find that rocking their baby helps them fall asleep. While this is a completely acceptable method of getting your baby to fall asleep, you don’t want them to develop a dependency on it. To avoid this, try and help your baby settle to sleep by establishing a bedtime routine, but let your baby fall asleep in their cot at 1 or 2 months.
This is when your baby starts to develop their own natural circadian rhythm, meaning that you want to encourage them to fall asleep on their own. While it might be tempting to rock your baby back and forth when they seem tired, simply laying your baby on their back and letting them fall asleep can help to establish better bedtime routines for the future.
A positive bedtime routine
The main thing is to remember that your baby is still coming to terms with the outside world and each child is completely different.
As parents our role is to support and guide our children as they grow, which starts with helping them feel safe, secure and loved, especially at bedtime when they are likely to feel the most vulnerable.