Meg Faure, co-author of Baby Sense and Sleep Sense, summarises the top 10 ultimate baby sleep tips to help your baby sleep through the night.
Helping your baby to sleep through the night is a goal for most parents. Sleep disruption is so distressing for everyone that the sooner your baby sleeps through the night, the better. In this article, Meg Faure, highlights the top 10 tips to help your baby sleep through the night. These tips are in no particular order but by implementing them all, you should be in for a better night’s sleep within a week.
Put your baby on their side or back to sleep on a firm mattress without any pillows or duvets to limit the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome/ Cot death).
2. Sleep environment
For good sleep habits try having your baby in their own room (if possible) by three months, as you will both have more rested sleep in your own rooms. Make sure the room can be darkened for day sleeps and morning lie-ins by putting up block out curtains or blinds. Use soft linen in the cot and for cool nights, warm the room up a little, without over heating your baby. For a slightly older baby (after 4 months) use a sleeping bag to keep your baby warm and prevent the classic 4am night waking due to kicking all the blankets off.
3. Under three months
If your baby is very colicky in the evenings, delaying bedtime due to fussing and crying, you should try to limit stimulation after 4 pm. Swaddle your baby to help calm them and to limit night wakings due to uncontrolled body jerks.
4. Bedtime routine
Have a consistent time for bed with a predictable routine leading up to bedtime. Between six and seven in the evening is an appropriate time for babies and toddlers to be in bed for the night. Start the evening routine with a soothing warm bath followed by a calming massage (for babies not suffering from colic – colicky babies do better having the massage in the morning). After their bath, don’t leave your baby’s dimmed room and keep all interactions in the room calming with less handling and stimulation.
5. Evening feed
Feed your baby as much as they will take before bedtime. If your breast milk supply seems low in the evenings, offer your baby a supplementary or top-up feed of expressed breast milk or formula milk before bed.
6. Put your baby to bed awake
Rouse your baby after the last feed so that they have to fall asleep without the aid of props such as bottle or breast. The way in which your baby falls asleep in the evening will be what they expect in the middle of the night, i.e. bottle, breast, dummy/pacifier, rocking, etc.
7. Handling fussing at bedtime
After three months, expect a little fussing as your baby settles to sleep. To manage this, without developing habits, leave your baby in their cot but sit with them, with your hand on them and encourage them to fall asleep after a little fussing.
8. Night feeds
Never wake your baby at night for a feed, unless your pediatrician has instructed you to do so because your baby is ill or very under weight. Wait for your baby to signal that they are hungry at night.
9. Calm night feeds
Keep the middle of the night feeds strictly business affairs – with no stimulation: keep the room dark, using a passage light to see for feeds. Don’t change your baby’s nappy / diaper at night feeds unless it is soiled or your baby has wet through the nappy. Limit the time for burping, your baby will settle best after a night feed if they are resettled quickly.
10. Sleep coaching
Only sleep coach your baby after six months and then only after ruling out all other causes for night waking.
To sleep coach your baby –
- Give them the opportunity to self calm by not responding immediately when they cry at night
- Respond once your baby is really crying or within 5 minutes
- Do not lift your baby from the cot, rather sit with them and encourage them to self calm
- As hard as it is, sit with your baby for as long as it take for them to resettle. In this way, your baby does not feel abandoned but gets the message that you are there but they must go to sleep.
Remember to approach sleep challenges with a calm, patient demeanor. Sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone that your little one will reach with the right coaching and lots love. For more tips, read about my 20 Sleep Fixes that Actually Work.