Baby sleep

Nine tips to help your baby sleep

Lack of sleep can be the most challenging part when becoming a new parent. If your little one is keeping you up at night, here are some tips that'll hopefully get your baby to sleep – and stay asleep.

How much sleep?

How much sleep a baby needs varies by age and the individual needs of a child. According the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended hours of sleep are:

  • 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
  • 4-11 months: 12-15 hours
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours

The younger your baby, the more restless and odd the sleeping patterns will be. By encouraging good sleeping patterns early on, you're more likely to get some rest as your baby grows.

Getting baby to sleep

1. Condition sleep

Get your baby used to different sleep associations. Gently rock your baby while playing white noise. After a few weeks, your baby may begin to fall asleep with the white noise alone.
The key is to move from sleep associations that don't require your presence, so you can both rest soundly.

2. Set bed rituals

Try to get your baby to bed at a set time, every day. Babies with consistent bedtimes will go to sleep more easily and stay asleep for longer. Get into a night pattern before bed, such as a bath, nursing, followed by rocking. This regular pattern will help remind your baby that bedtime is coming.

3. Make the most of the day

Teach your baby that daytimes are for eating. Try cluster feeding during the waking hours so they don't get in the habit of waking up in the night with the need to feed. Encourage activity during the day by singing, talking and playing. Keeping your baby calm and active during the day can help promote better sleep at night.

4. Set a nap routine

From the age of 3-4 months, get your baby used to a predictable daytime nap routine. Look out for sleep signals and structure naps so they occur roughly at the same time every day. They're more likely to sleep longer stretches at night this way. Better still, coincide day naps with when you're most tired so you can get some rest too.

5. Consider a pacifier

Some babies find comfort in pacifiers and fall asleep more quickly with them. The downside to this is that if your baby loses the pacifier in the middle of the night, you might have to get up regularly and find it.

6. Rethink allergies

Some babies won't settle in synthetic sleepwear, so try pure cotton instead. Your baby might also have allergies to detergents, softeners or airborne irritants, so consider using a HEPA filter (which has the added benefit of white noise).

7. Wear your baby out

If your baby has trouble winding down after an energetic day, carry him or her around in a baby sling half an hour before the designated bedtime. When your baby falls asleep in the sling, ease them into the bed. Both mums and dads can do this – meaning there's no pressure on one parent only.

8. Reconsider bed-sharing

This won't help your baby to learn how to fall asleep on his or her own, and can also increase your baby's risk of SIDS. If you do want to keep your baby nearby, place your baby's cot in your bedroom.

9. Stay flexible

All babies are different, and even the same baby can change his or her sleep patterns as they grow. If your current daytime and night-time routine isn't working, be open to mixing it up. If your baby is happy and healthy – then you're doing fine. Remember, things will get better with time. You might worry about getting your baby to bed now, but soon enough, you'll be worrying about how to get them out of bed in the mornings!

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