It's not easy, this having-a-baby thing. If only we could get proper sleep, then the daytime would be much easier to handle!
Although no plan is watertight, there are some strategies and good habits that could help you and your baby to sleep better. Here they are.
1. Start working on sleep from day one
Even though we expect newborns to wake at night, your baby should be sleeping for slightly longer stretches and waking more frequently for feeds in the day. Keep night feeds calm and muted. Don't even change your baby's nappy if it is not soiled. But wake your baby to feed at least every 4 hours during the day to ensure he gets his nutrition in the daylight hours.
2. Don't overfeed your baby
As soon as your milk supply is established, your baby is gaining weight well and having 6-7 wet nappies a day, you can start to guide him towards a flexible feed routine. This will ensure he is not overfed and uncomfortable. Babies who are fed consistently through the day, with no rest period for their tummies, can become overfull and uncomfortable, which seems to lead to more night wakings.
- Also read: Fat bottle-fed baby?
3. Four to six months is the golden age
Research has identified this age as the golden period for developing healthy sleep habits. Developmentally your baby can self-soothe if allowed to. If he fusses in his sleep during the day, give him time to resettle. This is not letting your baby cry it out, it is simply not jumping for every whimper. If your one-year-old is never left on the floor, he won't learn to walk. The principle is the same - give your baby the opportunity to achieve self-soothing.
4. Teething and sleep
Teething gets more credit for causing problems than it should. Babies only teethe from about 6 months. When your baby is teething, his sleep might be slightly unsettled for two to three nights - just when the tooth erupts through the gums. Teething shouldn't create long-term problems.
- Also read: The teething instruction manual
5. Day sleep is the key
Logic may dictate that a tired baby sleeps better, but this is not true. A baby who sleeps well during the day will sleep better at night. Establish a day sleep pattern by watching age appropriate awake times - these are the periods of time that your baby can be happily awake. An overtired baby will struggle with self-soothing and this is often how habits like rocking or feeding to sleep) arise.
6. Don't dummy too much
Dummies are great for calming babies but a hindrance if your baby wakes through the night for the dummy. This arises if you use the dummy when he actually needs a feed at night. Try to meet any real need before using the dummy to put your baby back to sleep.
7. Tools that make all the difference
Technology can aid sleep. There are a few things that can really help you:
- Sleeping bag
- A swaddle blanket
- White noise
- Cot vibrator
- Rescue Remedy
- Block-out curtain lining
- A comfort object
How did you get your baby to eventually fall asleep and sleep through? Share your tips and tricks by emailing email@example.com and we may publish them on the site.
- 5 sleep secrets for new moms and dads
- 5 reasons your baby may be struggling to sleep
- Step-by-step method to help your 1-year-old baby sleep through