Establishing a bedtime routine
The good news is that by the end of the first year, most babies will sleep 10–12 hours a night. To encourage this to happen, it’s a good idea to get your baby into a good sleeping routine from about 6 to 8 weeks of age. There are plenty of tips here to help you get your baby into good habits.
It may feel like you’ve not got much chance of getting a good night’s sleep, but teaching your baby good sleeping habits now will make the months to come much easier. By six months your baby will be physically capable of sleeping through the night, so from as little as 6 to 8 weeks in you can begin a routine which will teach your baby how to do this.
Regular nap times
Sticking to set nap times throughout the day and a fixed bedtime at night lets everyone know where they’re up to. There might be a little bit of trial-and-error involved as you learn just how much sleep your baby needs, but don’t be afraid to wake them up if they’re sleeping for longer than you think they need to.
The difference between night and day
Night and day are much the same to most babies. To help your baby get into the habit of sleeping for short spells throughout the day and longer periods during the night, try teaching them the difference between the two. Make daytime light, bright, noisy and exciting – even when they’re napping, try not to block out the world and don’t worry about keeping things quiet. Come night-time make your home dark, quiet and calming; close curtains, keep voices low and turn the TV down. The change in atmosphere will soon help your baby tell the difference.
Settling your baby ready for bedtime
• Start by giving your baby a warm bath and enjoy gentle play as the start of the wind down before bed.
• Dress your baby in a soft sleep suit or pyjamas and sit together cosily in the calm of your baby’s bedroom, with the lights dimmed.
• Enjoy a quiet cuddle together
• Sing a soothing lullaby or read a bedtime story in a gentle, low voice, before laying your baby down in their cot with their favourite toy – giving the toy lots of hugs yourself, will make it smell like you and be even more comforting.
• Switch off the lights but switch on a night light to help your baby feel safe and reassured.
• And finally, give them a goodnight kiss
What to do when your baby cries
Some people believe you should just let your baby “cry it out”, so that they begin to learn to fall asleep on their own. But it does take a lot of will power to stop yourself from going to their room to give them a comforting cuddle.
You may prefer this gentler approach, which can be just as effective: if your baby starts whimpering when you leave, gently and quietly reassure them with a stroke of the head and a gentle “night night, I love you”…and then leave the room. If you have to go back in, wait 5 or 10 minutes and repeat the process until your baby drifts off.
Every mom and baby is different, so try not to get too stressed if a particular routine isn’t working. It can often take you both time to get used to things, so just try and be patient and go with whatever works best for you and your baby.
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